Of Patience and Bottle Conditioning.

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If you have been directed to this post then you probably started a "my beer is undercarbed" or "my tastes funny" thread and you indicated that you opened the beer after a few days or 2 weeks expecting your beer to be ready. Beermaking has a lot of similarities to food and cooking. Ever notice that some foods, like spaghetti sauces, soups or chili's taste better as leftovers then they do when you take them first off the stove? The ingredients have to "marry" and co-mingle and some things mellow out with time. It's the same with beer....That is one of the things that bottle conditioning does. Lets the flavors "marry" because the new co2 that builds up, and lets some of the "green" flavors fade away... Carbonation isn't instantaneous to begin with, it takes a couple weeks for the Co2 to build up, and once the co2 has saturated the beer, EvilToj says it best...

Originally Posted by EvilTOJ
"Volatile chemicals break down into more benign ones, and longer protein chains settle out."
There's no real fixed time that this process occurs, it is dependent on several factors; the style of the beer (bigger, high gravity beers take longer-For example Barleywines may take upwards of a year to condition, carb and mellow out.) Temperature also plays a role. The recommendation is to store/age your bottles in a dark place at around 70 degrees F. For most simple ales, the rule of thumb is 3 weeks at 70 deg. But I have had Stouts and Porters take 6 to 8 weeks before they are ready. Before that beers may have all manner of off tastes, including a green apple flavor, strong yeastiness (yeast bite) and they may not show any carbonation, or they may gush when they open them (or one from the batch may be carbed, while another is flat, while a third may gush, but most of the time, they all will even out with time. After 3 weeks at 70 is recommended (though most of us fail at this one-Me included) that you put your beer in the fridge for a full two weeks before drinking; this will help to make you beer crystal clear and tasty. At least new brewer, let them chill in the fridge for 48 hours before you knock them back. Although many books refer to gushers as a sign of infection, DON'T PANIC; a gushing bottle anytime within the first 3-4 weeks of bottle conditioning is not uncommon, and not NECESSARILY an indication of infection. It is AFTER the period of bottle conditioning has occurred, and especially when the rest of the bottled beer is carbed and conditioned fine, that a gusher is a cause of concern and USUALLY the infection is limited to only a single, or to very few bottles (It could be, for example, that a bottle has somehow slipped through your sanitizing process- maybe it wasn't cleaned thoroughly if it was a recycled bottle.) Believe it or not, it is really hard to ruin/infect your beer, especially if it is your first batch, and you took even the most rudimentary sanitary precautions. It is actually more likely for an experienced brewer to get an infection- Perhaps they let something slide in their cleaning/sanitation process and something from their previous batch got nasty between brewing sessions, and infected their latest batch. It sometimes happens that small matter gets lodged in a hose connection and doesn't get cleaned out or zapped with the sanitizer, or perhaps over many uses a fermenter or bottling bucket develops a scratch in it, which becomes a breeding ground for contamination, but with brand new, cleaned and sanitized equipment is highly unlikely. (That's why it is a good idea NEVER to use any abrasive cleanser or cleaning tools like scrubbies, on your plastic gear. Nor is it a good idea to clean/sanitize your bottles or equipment in your fermenter or bottling bucket. I use a dedicated 5 gallon soysauce bucket for that purpose.) Just remember, in brewing, we're not making instant lemonade here, we're not mixing a bunch of flavoring with water and consuming it the same day. Homebrew is alive (even more than the highly processed, pasteurized, and filtered, tasteless swill that passes for commercial beer- i.e. Bud, Miller, Coors.) what we're making is the result of the life cycle of living yeasts, that eat, breed, and process (read- Pee ) proteins and sugars into wonderful tasty alcohol, and since it is living, like us, it has it's own timetable and agenda, so Relax, Don't Worry, (and if this your first batch) Have a Micro Brew Later when you have a few batches in the pipeline we'll switch that to RDWHAHB! A good experiment, for any brewer to do, is to pull a beer out on the 7th day in the bottle and chill it for 2, then taste it, make notes on the tastes and the level of carb. Do it again on the 14th day, the 21st and the 28th...you'll really see the difference. Then leave a bottle stashed away for 6 months, chill that and taste it, and go back and read your notes.You'll learn a heck of a lot about beer doing that. Poindexter shows in this video exactly what happens to your beer over the 3 weeks. He shows carbonation from 5 days in the bottle on.
SO STEP AWAY FROM YOUR BOTTLES, the yeasties know what they're doing, so let them do their jobs!!! Since your beer's already in the bottles, that means your primary is free, so quit sampling your beer before it's ready (or you won't have any to drink when they ACTUALLY reach their peak.) AND GET BREWING ANOTHER BATCH!


You say 3 weeks @ 70* and you also say +/- 2* can mean a lot to the yeasties, so...
Is it bad to store beer in a dark closest at say 70* to 80*? I understand cooler temps cause conditioning/carbing to take longer because the yeast is less active, but can higher temps like these be detrimental to bottle conditioning?
You've got some good, and very helpful posts here. I am an inexperienced, all-grain brewer. I began with all grain because I didn't know any better. I have produced some drinkable (barely) beers, but I think I am perfecting my process. I have what I call a dark, maple ale in the fermenter right now that I have high hopes for.
I was just wondering... does a longer boil break down the "floaters" better so they settle to the bottom. This appears to be the case after about an 75 minute boil on my latest brew.
Thanks again,
Nice blog! I will be bottling my first beer in about 2-3 weeks depending upon my yeast telling me its done...
Nice, I have my first batch of brown in the bottle now for one week, and I must say it will be hard to wate 30 + days to try it. But I will try to be strong LOL..
This article is very true but not 100%..You can bottle condition a bad beer for extended periods of time and end up with liquid dog feces..patience does not heal all wounds..it helps most of the time but does not heal every batch..I have a bunch of bottles 6 weeks in that are just as bad as it was on bottling day..nothing changed..Extended conditioning is a good practice but sometimes you have to cut your loses and accept that a particular batch is bad and no ammount of time will heal the batch..it will forever be horrible and undrinkable...it happens