NEIPA bottling experiment using Daraform Oxygen Scavenging caps

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neale

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I have just bottled my first NEIPA, (6th Feb 2021). I have read a lot about people trying to purge headspace with CO2 and seen all the 'discussion' that occurs as a result. I don't have a keg setup or any smaller means of getting CO2 into my bottle. So I was aiming to try bottling with a very small headspace remaining, (as many people have suggested), in the hope that that would be enough to reduce the Oxygen levels to a point where it has little effect on the beer. Then I figured that since NEIPA is so susceptible to oxidisation, (hadn't realised this when I planned to do my first NEIPA), I might as well try some Oxygen Scavenging caps.

So to the experiment part. All but three of my bottles have been filled pretty much to the top and capped using the Oxygen Scavenging caps, but in three clear bottles I have filled as follows.

Bottle 1 - Filled using filling stick and left the usual headspace - capped using a standard cap
Bottle 2 - Filled using filling stick and left the usual headspace - capped using a Oxygen Scavenging cap
Bottle 3 - Filled using filling stick and then topped up to a few mm from the top - capped using a Oxygen Scavenging cap

They will be stored in my temperature controlled fridge at room temperature for a week then chilled to fridge temperature. So they will be stored in darkness and chilled. I'll post pictures every few weeks to see if there are any changes.

----- Please can we try not get into any debates about the usefulness or not of purging CO2 into the headspace, thanks ------

Oxy-cap-comparison-Day-1.jpg


Just in case anyone is interested.

I have tried to reduce oxygen to a minimum through out the whole process. I had a dry hop addition after 4 days and didn't want to open the top if possible. So to reduce the oxygen to a minimum I rigged up a way of adding the hops without removing the lid. I use a Big Bubbler fermenter with a wide opening at the top. Using a t-piece, some string, a tube clamp, an ear plug and a hop bag I was able to lower the hops in without removing the lid and keep out pretty much any air, I think. I could even lift the bag up and down to allow it to drain then soak again and then once done with the dry hop I could lift them out so that they hung above the wort. If anyone's interested I can go into more detail in a separate post.
 

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I have just bottled my first NEIPA, (6th Feb 2021). I have read a lot about people trying to purge headspace with CO2 and seen all the 'discussion' that occurs as a result. I don't have a keg setup or any smaller means of getting CO2 into my bottle. So I was aiming to try bottling with a very small headspace remaining, (as many people have suggested), in the hope that that would be enough to reduce the Oxygen levels to a point where it has little effect on the beer. Then I figured that since NEIPA is so susceptible to oxidisation, (hadn't realised this when I planned to do my first NEIPA), I might as well try some Oxygen Scavenging caps.

So to the experiment part. All but three of my bottles have been filled pretty much to the top and capped using the Oxygen Scavenging caps, but in three clear bottles I have filled as follows.

Bottle 1 - Filled using filling stick and left the usual headspace - capped using a standard cap
Bottle 2 - Filled using filling stick and left the usual headspace - capped using a Oxygen Scavenging cap
Bottle 3 - Filled using filling stick and then topped up to a few mm from the top - capped using a Oxygen Scavenging cap

They will be stored in my temperature controlled fridge at room temperature for a week then chilled to fridge temperature. So they will be stored in darkness and chilled. I'll post pictures every few weeks to see if there are any changes.

----- Please can we try not get into any debates about the usefulness or not of purging CO2 into the headspace, thanks ------

View attachment 717470

Just in case anyone is interested.

I have tried to reduce oxygen to a minimum through out the whole process. I had a dry hop addition after 4 days and didn't want to open the top if possible. So to reduce the oxygen to a minimum I rigged up a way of adding the hops without removing the lid. I use a Big Bubbler fermenter with a wide opening at the top. Using a t-piece, some string, a tube clamp, an ear plug and a hop bag I was able to lower the hops in without removing the lid and keep out pretty much any air, I think. I could even lift the bag up and down to allow it to drain then soak again and then once done with the dry hop I could lift them out so that they hung above the wort. If anyone's interested I can go into more detail in a separate post.
Nice! Thanks for sharing!
 

Birrofilo

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I read somewhere that oxygen scavenging taps need to be wet in order to begin their scavenging action.
That also means that you must not wet them with sanitizing agent, because that would start the oxygen scavenging action too early.

Did you wet the oxygen scavenging tap?
 

Immocles

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FWIW, I've both sanitized ( and obviously wetting the bottle cap) oxygen scavenging caps and I have capped them dry. I didn't notice a difference, but I also wasn't testing the shelf life. So can't comment on the comparison over an extended time (+2-3 months)

I have tried to reduce oxygen to a minimum through out the whole process. I had a dry hop addition after 4 days and didn't want to open the top if possible. So to reduce the oxygen to a minimum I rigged up a way of adding the hops without removing the lid. I use a Big Bubbler fermenter with a wide opening at the top. Using a t-piece, some string, a tube clamp, an ear plug and a hop bag I was able to lower the hops in without removing the lid and keep out pretty much any air, I think. I could even lift the bag up and down to allow it to drain then soak again and then once done with the dry hop I could lift them out so that they hung above the wort. If anyone's interested I can go into more detail in a separate post.
I'm a little curious on that. Do you have a picture by chance?
 

Roxhambrewshed

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I too have been experimenting with bottling my neipas. This one is 2 weeks old using a traditional method of carefully racking out of carboy with a cane and filler, no flushing and leaving 3/4" headspace. Also used 02 absorbing caps (wet 30 sec. Before capping) and dextrose was placed in bottom of each 700ml bottle. Taste fresh and aroma is there.
20210207_153702.jpg
 
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neale

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Did you wet the oxygen scavenging tap?
I did wet them with sanitiser but they where only in sanitiser for a minute or so before capping, not sure how quick the scavenging happens. I guess if there is any difference it should be seen in the three bottles over time. It would have been nice if the caps came with some instructions but they just came in a clear ziplok bag.
 
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neale

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I'm a little curious on that. Do you have a picture by chance?

Its basically a T-piece pushed into the bung, the right hand leg does off to a blow off tube and the vertical part has a piece of string through it with the hop bag tied so it dangles above the wort until ready to drop in. To stop the bag from dropping in until I am ready I pushed a small piece of tube onto the top leg of the t-piece and used a tube clamp to squash the tube onto the string to lock it in place. When it was time drop the hops in I just released the clamp and let the bag down into the wort. I put a few stainless washers in the bag to weigh it down a bit. It also meant I could lift the hop bag out, let it drain for a few minutes then drop it back in.

When I first did this I noticed I wasn't getting any bubbling from the blow off tube so I guessed that I was getting CO2 leaking through the t-piece past the string so I got an 'in the ear' ear plug, the type you roll up and push in your ear. Pushed a wooden skewer through it, (not easy), then threaded the string through it, (also not easy), so I could roll it and push it into the tube on the T-piece and make an air tight seal. Which worked but....

After doing this it occurred to me that I could probably do the same thing by simply running the string through either the existing bung, or through a second smaller bung. I figure I can drill a small hole in the top of my fermenters lid and push a small bung in with the string going through the bung. Then I'll use a clamp on the string to hold it up. I think this will be air tight enough as long as the string is pretty tight through the bung, and it is probably much easier than messing around with t-pieces and ear plugs. I've got some small bungs on order.....

hopbagdropper.jpg
 
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neale

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2 weeks in the bottles and still looking pretty similar, if anything bottle no 2 with the oxy cap is maybe slightly darker but that could just be the light.

Oxy-cap-comparison-2weeks.jpg
 
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neale

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Updated picture after 6 weeks.

The large headspace bottles now look darker than the small headspace bottle. But they also look the same as each other, so I'm not sure that the Daraform cap has made much difference to bottle no2.

The small headspace bottle definitely looks lighter and the pint to the left is poured from a brown bottle filled virtually to the top with a Daraform cap and looks very similar to the bottle on the right.

All the bottles have been kept out of the light completely.

I think we can conclude that the small headspace is the way to go when filling the bottles. As for the Oxygen scavenging headcaps, not sure. I think I would need to repeat with two bottles filled up to the top, one with a standard cap and one with the Daraform cap.

I wont drink these until I drink the rest of this batch. But when I do I will do a taste test to see if I can tell any difference. That will be a few weeks away though......

Oxy-cap-comparison-6weeks.jpg
 

Birrofilo

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If you window is, at it appears, to the right, the right bottle might receive more light and the other two bottles might be in the shadow of the first bottle. That might make the difference appear greater than in reality.
 
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neale

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The window is actually behind me, theres no window to the sides. There is a strip light under the kitchen units and directly above the bottles so the light should be similar.

They did look different to my eye in 'real life' as well but there positions might affect how they look on the photo a bit. I'll take another picture a bit later on with them in a different order and see if it makes any difference.
 

Erik the Anglophile

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As I understand it, the oxygen scavenging in those caps is a process that takes a couple of hours to complete, so putting as many caps as the number of bottles in each "flight" of the bottling and leaving them in there while filling the bottles should not be an issue.
 
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neale

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This will be the final picture on this thread. We are now 3 and a bit months since bottling and there is still a definite difference between the bottle filled to the top and the two 'normally filled' bottles. I don't think the colour has changed since I last checked back in March.

I opened bottle 1 and bottle 3 this weekend and there was definitely a difference although not a huge one. Bottle 3 had more aroma and maybe tasted a bit more hoppy but other than that no off flavours or anything, I do think they are a bit past their best now though.

I hope this has helped someone to maybe extend the shelf life of their bottled beers a bit. If I do this again I will try filling to the top and use oxygen scavenging caps on one bottle and standard tops on the other to see if the oxy caps really make a difference. I think from these results with the larger head space bottles the oxy cap hasn't made any difference compared to the bottle with the standard cap.

From the point of view of whether to leave a large head space or not I think its quite clear that leaving a minimal head space makes a difference so I will doing that from now on on all my brews. I literally filled each bottle to around 3mm from the brim of the bottle and capped, they all carbonated as you'd expect and there where no explosions, so thats a bonus.....

IMAG1352.jpg


IMAG1351.jpg
 

Miraculix

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This will be the final picture on this thread. We are now 3 and a bit months since bottling and there is still a definite difference between the bottle filled to the top and the two 'normally filled' bottles. I don't think the colour has changed since I last checked back in March.

I opened bottle 1 and bottle 3 this weekend and there was definitely a difference although not a huge one. Bottle 3 had more aroma and maybe tasted a bit more hoppy but other than that no off flavours or anything, I do think they are a bit past their best now though.

I hope this has helped someone to maybe extend the shelf life of their bottled beers a bit. If I do this again I will try filling to the top and use oxygen scavenging caps on one bottle and standard tops on the other to see if the oxy caps really make a difference. I think from these results with the larger head space bottles the oxy cap hasn't made any difference compared to the bottle with the standard cap.

From the point of view of whether to leave a large head space or not I think its quite clear that leaving a minimal head space makes a difference so I will doing that from now on on all my brews. I literally filled each bottle to around 3mm from the brim of the bottle and capped, they all carbonated as you'd expect and there where no explosions, so thats a bonus.....

View attachment 730139

View attachment 730138
Thank you!

Thanks to you, I also fill my bottles now to about 3-5mm below the rim.

I bought some oxygen scavenger caps, but now that I see these results, I'll probably stick to the normal ones in the future. You also don't know what type of chemicals they put into the inner coating so that it gets the oxygen out.
 

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@Miraculix @neale and @Others

You who fill the bottle up to 3-5 mm under the brim, do you use the typical automatic wand by pushing it to the side of the bottle or do you fill the bottle without the wand, by just letting the beer flowing along the side of the bottle, in order not to oxygenate the beer during the filling operation?

I will bottle tomorrow morning and, although I would certainly like to try this trick, I wonder how to do it properly and without mistakes that make the patch worse than the hole.
 

Miraculix

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@Miraculix @neale and @Others

You who fill the bottle up to 3-5 mm under the brim, do you use the typical automatic wand by pushing it to the side of the bottle or do you fill the bottle without the wand, by just letting the beer flowing along the side of the bottle, in order not to oxygenate the beer during the filling operation?

I will bottle tomorrow morning and, although I would certainly like to try this trick, I wonder how to do it properly and without mistakes that make the patch worse than the hole.
I use a normal bottling stick and at the end I push the end of the stick on the inside of the bottle neck, to release a bit more liquid. That way, I can fill it to the top.
 
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neale

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@Miraculix @neale and @Others

You who fill the bottle up to 3-5 mm under the brim, do you use the typical automatic wand by pushing it to the side of the bottle or do you fill the bottle without the wand, by just letting the beer flowing along the side of the bottle, in order not to oxygenate the beer during the filling operation?

I will bottle tomorrow morning and, although I would certainly like to try this trick, I wonder how to do it properly and without mistakes that make the patch worse than the hole.
I'm probably a bit late replying for your last bottling but for future reference I fill a measuring cylinder with beer using the bottling wand, then fill each bottle using the bottling wand and just top up from the measuring cylinder. I do it as carefully as possible so as not to splash or introduce oxygen.
 

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The same bottles would have been nice. I wonder if volume has any bearing on the way light passes thru the contents.
Probably not... the shorter bottle would have a larger diameter which you would think would be darker if that was the case. Never mind.
 
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neale

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The volume could have an effect on the light but there is most definitely a difference in the beers colours regardless of bottle size. When I drank these I poured bottle 1 and 3 into the same type of glass and the difference was the same as it appears in the bottles. If you look right at the top of this thread you will also see that when first bottled the bottles looked the same regardless of the thickness of the bottle.

In an ideal world I would have used the same bottles for each but this is all I had available. I would also have filled a bottle to the top and put a standard cap on to get a comparison, but I only had 3 clear bottles. I might try this on my next NEIPA batch though to see if there is any difference.
 

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Be careful bottling like this if you crash chill before bottling - thermal expansion in the bottle could create bombs. The difference between chilled and room temperature volume (for water, assuming beer is similar) is about 0.2 to 0.25%, which is about 1.5 to 2mL in a 750mL bottle. Not much, but if your headspace is less than that, you'll lose bottles.
 

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Be careful bottling like this if you crash chill before bottling - thermal expansion in the bottle could create bombs.

:off:
I'm actually starting to question this. In theory, it's an issue. In practice, does the expansion/contraction of glass (which will chill/contract as cold beer is added) offset the expansion/contraction of the liquid? For the sake of science and beer, I'm going to fill a few bottles right to the brim with cold water, then cap them and see what happens. I'm not willing to waste beer, but happy to potentially donate a few glass bottles to a good cause. I'll do it tomorrow. It's time for another Friday night beer.
 

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:off:
I'm actually starting to question this. In theory, it's an issue. In practice, does the expansion/contraction of glass (which will chill/contract as cold beer is added) offset the expansion/contraction of the liquid? For the sake of science and beer, I'm going to fill a few bottles right to the brim with cold water, then cap them and see what happens. I'm not willing to waste beer, but happy to potentially donate a few glass bottles to a good cause. I'll do it tomorrow. It's time for another Friday night beer.
Also, the cap itself can deform a bit, before actually cracking the bottle.

Keep them somewhere safe! Plastic boxes would be best I guess.
 

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This is a really interesting experiment. A couple points - it does appear that limiting headspace does reduce oxidation to some degree. Next step would be a safety test as bottlers for years have used headspace as a cushion against exploding bottles which have to travel long distances under varying ambient temperatures and they do get agitated, which also causes problems. What happens if the bottles accidentally get warm for example. Bottle bombs are very dangerous.

Second - maybe this is a real case for using PET plastic bottles for IPA’s like this. I’m a traditionalist, I like glass with beer, but I also am open minded enough on issues like this. Maybe some brown plastic soda bottles would be the way to go with NEIPAs - you could fill those with absolute zero headspace as they do expand a bit. The resulting space they would produce would be bottle generated CO2 without a hint of air.

Would be interested in the taste test!
 

Miraculix

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This is a really interesting experiment. A couple points - it does appear that limiting headspace does reduce oxidation to some degree. Next step would be a safety test as bottlers for years have used headspace as a cushion against exploding bottles which have to travel long distances under varying ambient temperatures and they do get agitated, which also causes problems. What happens if the bottles accidentally get warm for example. Bottle bombs are very dangerous.

Second - maybe this is a real case for using PET plastic bottles for IPA’s like this. I’m a traditionalist, I like glass with beer, but I also am open minded enough on issues like this. Maybe some brown plastic soda bottles would be the way to go with NEIPAs - you could fill those with absolute zero headspace as they do expand a bit. The resulting space they would produce would be bottle generated CO2 without a hint of air.

Would be interested in the taste test!
I did exactly that for years. The trick is to leave head space as usual and then slightly squeeze the bottle before tightening the cap so much that the beer is standing up until the rim of the opening. That way no air is trapped in the bottle, while still having some space for everything to expand. From personal experience, after 3 months oxidation slowly kicks in, because of the permeability of the Plastic. But before that, all good!
 
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neale

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I've done three brews topping up to maybe 2mm from the brim and so far no bottle bombs. The first was bottled and conditioned at fermenting temp, the second was cold crashed to 3°C, (38F), bottled, then allowed to condition at room temperature. The last was brewed with Kveik at 35°C, (95F) and bottled and conditioned at 35°C then chilled.

So far no bottle bombs. I guess the most likely for a bottle bomb would be the one I cold crashed and bottled cold then conditioned at room temperature. Its a couple of month old now, I've still got a few bottles left and they have been out of the fridge for a couple of weeks while I used the fridge to brew the Kveik beer so they experienced temperature fluctuations in my shed.

I'm not suggesting bottle bombs wont happen but its not been as issue for me with just a very small head space left before capping.
 

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The results of my little test are in.....
About 24 hours ago, I filled three 750mL glass bottles to the brim with 2C water. Bottles were at 13C before bottling and were capped with a normal bench/lever capper. Bottles went into a chamber at 21C. I just checked on them and things look rather inconclusive. One broken bottle, two survivors. The broken bottle may have been weak to start with. The survivors might have slightly leaky caps. Maybe it's right on the threshold of breaking. It's enough for me to say I'd be wary of over filling after crash chilling.
 

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The results of my little test are in.....
About 24 hours ago, I filled three 750mL glass bottles to the brim with 2C water. Bottles were at 13C before bottling and were capped with a normal bench/lever capper. Bottles went into a chamber at 21C. I just checked on them and things look rather inconclusive. One broken bottle, two survivors. The broken bottle may have been weak to start with. The survivors might have slightly leaky caps. Maybe it's right on the threshold of breaking. It's enough for me to say I'd be wary of over filling after crash chilling.
Thanks! Good to know!
 

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As always, you have two intersecting slopes - one having to do with flavor and color improvements of minimizing headspace by reducing oxidation. The other with diminishing safety based on minimizing that headspace. Where the two slopes intersect is your sweet spot. Might be 1/4" for example - enough to minimize oxidation "enough" balanced against producing safe bottles "enough".
 

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As always, you have two intersecting slopes - one having to do with flavor and color improvements of minimizing headspace by reducing oxidation. The other with diminishing safety based on minimizing that headspace. Where the two slopes intersect is your sweet spot. Might be 1/4" for example - enough to minimize oxidation "enough" balanced against producing safe bottles "enough".

I personally wouldn't worry about the 'safety' aspect - wear gloves and glasses if you're worried about the breaking whilst being handled (once chilled the risk is all but eliminated anyway) - but I wouldn't want to lose a batch of beer to broken bottles! Bottle necks are approximately 17mm (diameter) so 1/4" is approximately 1.4mL (less than thermal expansion). Maybe go with 1/2". Or bottle at room temp.
 
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