Shelf Stability

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thetick

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Hello all!

New brewer here. I’m coming to the end of primary fermentation on my second brew (a saison!). I‘d like to get another batch started after I bottle, but have somewhat limited space to store the bottles. What does it take to make a beer shelf stable — or is that even possible with home brews?

Thanks for any advice in advance! Also, you all have a great community here. I’ve been lurking for a while and have managed to find answers to most of my newbie questions just searching. Thanks for all the advice you give us neophytes!
 

IslandLizard

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Welcome to our forums!

Preventing oxidation during fermentation and packaging is probably the best way to keep your beer as fresh as possible for longer times.

Avoid doing "secondaries" is probably the first step toward that goal, unless you brew sours, and even with those, oxygen is their nemesis.

Some beer styles aren't well suited for longer storage (e.g., NEIPAs and other very hoppy beers), as even small amounts of oxygen that unavoidably enter our homebrew processes will make them lose their original luster quickly. So consume those ASAP.

Some beers benefit from extended bottle storage/conditioning, getting better with age, while most beers are probably good for consumption, anywhere between a minimum of 3 weeks of bottle conditioning and 6-12 months of storage.

Cooler temps and dark environments are best for longer term storage (e.g. "cellars"). Putting your bottles in a closed box in a somewhat cool area (say below 68F) is probably all it needs, no need to get fancy.
 
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thetick

thetick

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Welcome to our forums!

Preventing oxidation during fermentation and packaging is probably the best way to keep your beer as fresh as possible for longer times.

Avoid doing "secondaries" is probably the first step toward that goal, unless you brew sours, and even with those, oxygen is their nemesis.

Thanks for the advice on the secondary fermentation. My local home brew shop owner likes using them to reduce waste, so I was considering them for the future. Guess I’ll steer clear for the time being.

So far (well, for my one and only complete brew), I’ve been adding priming sugar by making simple syrup in a stock pot, racking over to it, and then racking into bottles from the pot. Would you recommend I use priming tablets and rack directly to the bottle if I plan to store a batch at room temp for a while?

Also, what about leaving as little air in the bottle as possible upon filling? Will that reduce oxygen or just produce an “unfortunate” result?

Some beer styles aren't well suited for longer storage (e.g., NEIPAs and other very hoppy beers), as even small amounts of oxygen that unavoidably enter our homebrew processes will make them lose their original luster quickly. So consume those ASAP.

Some beers benefit from extended bottle storage/conditioning, getting better with age, while most beers are probably good for consumption, anywhere between a minimum of 3 weeks of bottle conditioning and 6-12 months of storage.

Cooler temps and dark environments are best for longer term storage (e.g. "cellars"). Putting your bottles in a closed box in a somewhat cool area (say below 68F) is probably all it needs, no need to get fancy.

As luck would have it, IPA’s are among my favorites. Living in the desert, room temp can be up to 80F at times. Guess I’ll just stick with smaller batches in the summer until I can get more fridge space — or just drink faster!

Thanks again!
 

ike8228

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Thanks for the advice on the secondary fermentation. My local home brew shop owner likes using them to reduce waste, so I was considering them for the future. Guess I’ll steer clear for the time being.

So far (well, for my one and only complete brew), I’ve been adding priming sugar by making simple syrup in a stock pot, racking over to it, and then racking into bottles from the pot. Would you recommend I use priming tablets and rack directly to the bottle if I plan to store a batch at room temp for a while?

Also, what about leaving as little air in the bottle as possible upon filling? Will that reduce oxygen or just produce an “unfortunate” result?



As luck would have it, IPA’s are among my favorites. Living in the desert, room temp can be up to 80F at times. Guess I’ll just stick with smaller batches in the summer until I can get more fridge space — or just drink faster!

Thanks again!
Shops may tell you that because they want to sell you another carboy or vessel of some kind. There are times that is necessary, but not required.

Little to no air in the bottle is best. After filling (assuming you are using a wand) tilt the bottle and it the little black plunger on the end with the mouth of the bottle. This will allow you to get more in the bottle.
 
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thetick

thetick

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Little to no air in the bottle is best. After filling (assuming you are using a wand) tilt the bottle and it the little black plunger on the end with the mouth of the bottle. This will allow you to get more in the bottle.

Thanks for the tip. Appreciate it!
 

IslandLizard

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So far (well, for my one and only complete brew), I’ve been adding priming sugar by making simple syrup in a stock pot, racking over to it, and then racking into bottles from the pot.
That's the correct way. Avoid splashing the beer. Just curl your siphon/racking hose on the bottom of your bottling vessel and let the beer run out that way, so very little air gets mixed in. A little oxygen that gets picked up during the process will be used by the yeast to help carbonate your beer.

Give the bottling vessel a gentle stir to make sure the sugar solution is completely mixed in, or you may get some bottles being over-carbonated and others under. Don't make your "simple syrup" too thick, it prevents quick and thorough mixing into the beer.

You need to leave a little headspace in the bottle for expansion and to help with carbonation, an inch is enough, possibly a little less. As long as you don't cap a bottle fully filled to the rim, leaving no room for expansion.

"Capping on foam" is another way to reduce oxygen left in the bottle. Best to have a second person cap it while the foam is still there, right after you fill.

Many of us start kegging after a while for daily consumption, gatherings, and parties. But some beers are still better bottled and bottle conditioned.
 

hotbeer

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I've only tried moving beer to a secondary once. It was one of, if not the worst beer I ever made. Though I did this for my third brew, IIRC and I also did some other things that might also contributed to my less than happy results.

I don't get in a hurry to bottle. I'll leave beer in the primary FV well beyond the time it finished fermenting and achieved it's FG. This gives it a chance to clean up on it's own, both for strange off flavors and for it's clarity to get a clean beer that's not murky looking.

I use a priming solution too. And for me, simply letting the beer swirl into the priming solution doesn't mix it well enough. So I'll gently stir it till all the wavy patterns of light reflecting though it disappear. The wavy patterns are simply the different densities of the priming solution and the beer. Using my own priming solution gives me a choice of priming sugars to use.

I don't quite agree with many others about head space in bottles. I've left about 1/8" of head space for entire batches carb'd to 3 vols and other batches I left over an inch and other batches somewhere between. The only difference it seems to make is how much "pffft" you hear when you open the bottle. You have to have a good amount of headspace to get that satisfying sound if that is important to you. However carbonation is the same.

Expansion of liquid inside might be an issue if you leave no headspace at all. But you don't need much headspace and I'd venture that 1/8" is more than enough.

I like bottling. It seems much easier with a bench capper than the other two handed cappers. So far have had no urge to try kegging. But I don't do 5 or 10 gallon brews at a time. 1½ - 2½ gallons is about right for me at the moment.
 
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thetick

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Give the bottling vessel a gentle stir to make sure the sugar solution is completely mixed in, or you may get some bottles being over-carbonated and others under. Don't make your "simple syrup" too thick, it prevents quick and thorough mixing into the beer.

:confused: I just bottled a 2.5 gallon batch yesterday and did not stir the beer into the priming sugar solution. Just used the natural flow of the siphon to swirl it together. I did the same on my first batch -- only one one gallon -- and had one beer that was under-carbonated. I thought that maybe I hadn't gotten a tight enough seal on the swing-top bottle, but I probably should have stirred both before and yesterday. Now I know for next time. Thanks!

Many of us start kegging after a while for daily consumption, gatherings, and parties. But some beers are still better bottled and bottle conditioned.

LOL. I'm just meeting people both local and online and *everyone* tells me they moved to kegging relatively quickly. I really like bottle conditioned beer, but will probably try kegging at some point once I get a few more brews under my belt.

Thanks again for the advice!
 
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thetick

thetick

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I've only tried moving beer to a secondary once. It was one of, if not the worst beer I ever made. Though I did this for my third brew, IIRC and I also did some other things that might also contributed to my less than happy results.

I'm not in any hurry to try it. At my current level of brewing skills, the less chances I have to screw up the beer the better off I'll be!

I don't get in a hurry to bottle. I'll leave beer in the primary FV well beyond the time it finished fermenting and achieved it's FG. This gives it a chance to clean up on it's own, both for strange off flavors and for it's clarity to get a clean beer that's not murky looking.

I'm going to try to get a bit more scientific about it with my next batch. I've been going strictly the time stated in the recipe at this point. The first batch, I didn't own a hydrometer so I just "rolled the dice." My second batch, the FG was 1.010 after the time time recipe stated so I figured that seemed reasonable and went ahead and bottled.

I use a priming solution too. And for me, simply letting the beer swirl into the priming solution doesn't mix it well enough. So I'll gently stir it till all the wavy patterns of light reflecting though it disappear. The wavy patterns are simply the different densities of the priming solution and the beer. Using my own priming solution gives me a choice of priming sugars to use.

Yeah, as stated in my post above... I need to stir next time.

I don't quite agree with many others about head space in bottles. I've left about 1/8" of head space for entire batches carb'd to 3 vols and other batches I left over an inch and other batches somewhere between. The only difference it seems to make is how much "pffft" you hear when you open the bottle. You have to have a good amount of headspace to get that satisfying sound if that is important to you. However carbonation is the same.

I don't understand what you mean by "carb'd to 3 vols." Are you force-carbonating?

Thanks!
 

hottpeper13

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My very first upgrade was a 1/2" siphon. It will swirl 5 gal in a bottling bucket to mix without a spoon. All my bottles were carbed the same after the upgrade.
 
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thetick

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My very first upgrade was a 1/2" siphon. It will swirl 5 gal in a bottling bucket to mix without a spoon. All my bottles were carbed the same after the upgrade.

Ironically, I have one but used my 3/8“ siphon because it’s what my bottling wand fits on. I’ll have to try doing the first rack with the 1/2“ next time. Thanks!
 

IslandLizard

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Ironically, I have one but used my 3/8“ siphon because it’s what my bottling wand fits on. I’ll have to try doing the first rack with the 1/2“ next time. Thanks!
3/8" ID should be plenty wide for a decent size stream that will mix in your sugar solution. I doubt a 1/2" ID siphon will make all that much difference.
I'd stick to what you're doing, and give it that ever so gentle, but good solid stir at the end. Again gentle, to avoid whipping air into it.

And make sure your sugar solution is not too thick. If it's a bit thicker, you could predilute it with some of the beer, then gently pour into your bottling vessel, once you've transferred some beer into it already.

Everything it takes to prevent high gravity syrup lying on the bottom, refusing to mix. ;)
 

hotbeer

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I don't understand what you mean by "carb'd to 3 vols." Are you force-carbonating?
Vols are how much CO2 is in the beer. I think it's short for Volume, but might be wrong.

How much sugar you add determines how much CO2 will be produced by the beer during it's fermentation. When you put that cap on the bottle, the CO2 has no choice but to stay in solution or the little bit of headspace.

Priming sugar calculators like this one will let you figure out about what you'll get for a given amount of sugar and beer.


3 vols I prefer do seem a little high compared to what others do. However I like to let my beer warm up in the glass from the 42° or less my refregerator is set to. And I take a while to finish it, so maybe by the time I'm drinking often of it, it is no longer 3 vols.
 
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thetick

thetick

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Vols are how much CO2 is in the beer. I think it's short for Volume, but might be wrong.

How much sugar you add determines how much CO2 will be produced by the beer during it's fermentation. When you put that cap on the bottle, the CO2 has no choice but to stay in solution or the little bit of headspace.

Priming sugar calculators like this one will let you figure out about what you'll get for a given amount of sugar and beer.


3 vols I prefer do seem a little high compared to what others do. However I like to let my beer warm up in the glass from the 42° or less my refregerator is set to. And I take a while to finish it, so maybe by the time I'm drinking often of it, it is no longer 3 vols.

Ah! Got it. Thanks for the link. I didn’t realize the CO2 amount was something that could be adjusted. I just followed the directions on the beer kit or priming sugar!
 
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