Author Topic: Question for experienced homebrewers who still bottle condition  (Read 1715 times)

Offline mpietropaoli

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Question for experienced homebrewers who still bottle condition
« on: November 01, 2012, 08:04:54 AM »
Ok I have been brewing for almost 3 years and have had MAJOR improvements in my process and my beer, and have won a few comps.  Added temp control, adequate/healthy yeast pitches from starters, and nice long primary ferments.  I recently started kegging occasionally (only occasionally because I live in the city and don’t have room for a dedicated serving fridge) and noticed something.
 
I kegged my first lager, an Oktoberfest fermented @ 50 degrees (~3 weeks), lagered at 35 degrees for 4 weeks, but also bottled/primed about a gallon of it and allowed for natural carbonation in the bottle (still doing this with the majority of my brews, again given the absence of a serving fridge and using my spare fridge for a ferment chamber)
 
The O fest tasted GREAT out of the keg.  A touch caramelly (maybe too much Vienna), but otherwise, great aroma, rich malt character, and clean/dry finish.  I grabbed a 22oz  bottle of the bottle-conditioned O-fest to take to my brothers house, which we had with a steak last night.  The bottle conditioned version had a slight cidery/astringent/sherry ‘edge’ in the aroma (not so much in the taste).  My brother couldn’t pick it up, but perhaps because I was expecting the beer I had out of the keg, I definitely caught something weird an unpleasant that I have noticed in other beers I’ve made, particularly those that are bottle-conditioned.
 
There is an off-chance I poured some yeast in the glass.  There is also an off chance my bottles were not GLEAMINGLY clean (typically, I triple/quad rinse HEAVILY after emptying a bottle and store them uncapped prior to sanitizing only before re-use…I know it’s a bit of a dice roll, but I feel like I am dislodging any gunk, then rinsing away anything else with my ‘after-use’ cleaning of bottles).
 
My question is, has anyone ever experienced off-flavors from the priming sugar itself (I use corn sugar dissolved in boiling water), or conducted a side-by-side to taste a kegged beer vs. a bottle-conditioned beer?  Usually, I will add the cooled simple syrup ON TOP of the racked beer prior to filling bottles, trying to minimize splashing.  I do this because I want to know my exact volume to properly measure priming sugar weight (sans trub).  Also, I am somewhat lax in CLEANING bottling wands, racking canes, hosing, etc., but typically soak in sanitizer for 30 minutes or so prior to use.  I know, I know, you can’t sanitize a turd and all that.
 
So it is likely there is an issue for me at packaging, and I need to discipline myself to clean AND sanitize everything.
 
Sorry for the long post, but just trying to pinpoint this and see if anyone else has had bottle-conditioning issues.
Primary: Common Cider; Xmas FauxCAP
Kegged: Pliny Clone; Rodney's Weizenbock; RIS
Bottled: Putain Biere de Garde; 51 RIS; Glutang Clan Roggenbier
Cellaring: Biere de Mars; Flanders
Planned: Schwarz

Offline erockrph

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Re: Question for experienced homebrewers who still bottle condition
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2012, 08:17:26 AM »
I can't really speak from experience, but to me a sherry-like note would point to oxidation. Is there any way your bottled beers could be picking up some oxidation?
Eric B.

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Online morticaixavier

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Re: Question for experienced homebrewers who still bottle condition
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2012, 08:19:12 AM »
sounds like it might be an oxidation issue (sherry), which is kind of strange because you bottle conditioned and the yeast should have cleaned alot of that up. But if you are adding your priming sugar to the top of the beer I assume you mix gently afterwards to ensure good distribution of the sugar. This might have introduced a bit of o2 that was not introduced to the kegged version (assuming you purge the keg with c02 prior to filling).

I suppose it is also possible that there is some yeast derived acetaldehyde (green apple, cider) being produced by the yeast in the bottle with no where to escape to. While in the keg it either was not produced or boiled off and is sitting in the headspace of the keg instead of in the beer. (acetaldehyde boils around 72*f).

It could be infection but I don't know what kind it might be. What timeframes are we talking about here? how old was the bottled beer when you tasted it? most infections take a little while to take hold.
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Offline mpietropaoli

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Question for experienced homebrewers who still bottle condition
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2012, 08:47:13 AM »
Bottles about 2.5 weeks ago
Primary: Common Cider; Xmas FauxCAP
Kegged: Pliny Clone; Rodney's Weizenbock; RIS
Bottled: Putain Biere de Garde; 51 RIS; Glutang Clan Roggenbier
Cellaring: Biere de Mars; Flanders
Planned: Schwarz

Online morticaixavier

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Re: Question for experienced homebrewers who still bottle condition
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2012, 08:51:33 AM »
Bottles about 2.5 weeks ago

well, you could keep sampling every couple weeks and see if it gets worse. If it gets dull and papery as it ages it's probably oxidation. If it gets otherwise foul and vinegary, well you can take it from there.

for what it's worth. the difference in priming amounts between 5 and 5.25 gallons isn't really enough to worry about in my opionion and racking on top of the priming sugar will reduce your chances of oxidation over stirring the sugar in afterwards. You could even purge the bottling bucket with co2 if you want to really reduce that o2 exposure.
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Jonathan I Fuller

Online AmandaK

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Re: Question for experienced homebrewers who still bottle condition
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2012, 09:26:00 AM »
To me, cidery points to a slight infection. I used to have the same off-flavors in a couple of my bottled batches until I looked at the inside of my bottling wand - there was a definite film in there. Tiny and barely visible, yes, but once I switched out that wand and got a new bottling bucket for safe measure, my problems vanished.

To be clear, my bottled beers were becoming slightly overcarbed. Not bottle bombs, but I would approximate about an extra 0.5 volume of CO2. They also had a ever so slight phenolic to them. I could taste it, and comp judges could taste it, but my friends could not. None of the batches ever really got 'that bad' though. Just the small overcarb and slight phenolic, even after 7 weeks. Sad thing is, I bottled 5 batches with the bad wand before I knew to replace it.  :(
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Offline weithman5

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Re: Question for experienced homebrewers who still bottle condition
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2012, 09:38:51 AM »
when i bottle, i put the priming mixture in the bottling bucket first. then i rack the beer on to it.  i think it helps get it mixed up a bit.  i also think 2.5 weeks is short time for this.  i let them bottle condition for two weeks and all my lagers then go in to the back of the fridge for at least 45-60 days.  usually longer cuz i brew more than i drink.  this also helps give more time for the yeast to settle out, and if you disturbed the yeast while you were transporting you may be picking this up a bit.
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Offline dannyjed

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Re: Question for experienced homebrewers who still bottle condition
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2012, 04:03:13 PM »
I had this problem in the summer when I entered a competition.  The beer tasted great out of the keg, but the bottles had that off flavor.  I think I didn't clean the bottles well enough since I was so out of practice.
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Offline malzig

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Re: Question for experienced homebrewers who still bottle condition
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2012, 05:25:35 AM »
Your process certainly points toward infection.  You have to wash bottles.

On the other hand, it could be that you have blown off some of the off aromas when pouring from the keg or are tasting "green" beer flavors introduced during the carbonation which might age out after a couple more weeks.  I have to say, I've never bottle conditioned a lager then tasted it at only 2.5 weeks, so this might be typical of some yeasts.

Offline gymrat

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Re: Question for experienced homebrewers who still bottle condition
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2012, 07:09:42 AM »
Your process certainly points toward infection.  You have to wash bottles.

On the other hand, it could be that you have blown off some of the off aromas when pouring from the keg or are tasting "green" beer flavors introduced during the carbonation which might age out after a couple more weeks.  I have to say, I've never bottle conditioned a lager then tasted it at only 2.5 weeks, so this might be typical of some yeasts.

What is your procedure for washing bottles? I rinse mine twice, fill half way up and shake vigorously, rinse two more times, then put in the dishwasher without soap on short wash. I have been doing this for about a year with no problems. But is it enough?
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Offline weithman5

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Re: Question for experienced homebrewers who still bottle condition
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2012, 07:30:12 AM »
i usually rinse my bottles after use, then run them on sanitize in the dishwasher with no soap.  i have had flavors from the soaps before that did not get completely rinsed
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Offline malzig

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Re: Question for experienced homebrewers who still bottle condition
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2012, 07:42:56 AM »
Your process certainly points toward infection.  You have to wash bottles.

On the other hand, it could be that you have blown off some of the off aromas when pouring from the keg or are tasting "green" beer flavors introduced during the carbonation which might age out after a couple more weeks.  I have to say, I've never bottle conditioned a lager then tasted it at only 2.5 weeks, so this might be typical of some yeasts.

What is your procedure for washing bottles? I rinse mine twice, fill half way up and shake vigorously, rinse two more times, then put in the dishwasher without soap on short wash. I have been doing this for about a year with no problems. But is it enough?
Do you think that the dishwasher actually gets up into the bottle?  At work we have a special dishwasher for bottles where the bottles slide over spouts that shoot water up into the bottle, but I don't know that a typical home dishwasher will wash them much.  I'd also worry that it would be enough to splash some soap up into the bottle but not enough to rinse them clean, reliably.

I wash bottles by filling a dish pan with hot water and Oxyclean, B-Brite, coffee pot cleaner or PBW, submerge about 10 bottles, scrub them briefly with a bottle brush, then rinse them 3-5 times.  Add 10 more bottles and repeat.  The brush is probably not necessary after otherwise clean bottles sit in the cleaner for a while.  The bottles always seem noticeably cleaner after a wash.

The problem with just rinsing bottles is that, even if you do it right away, you leave a film of protein on the glass that can build up over time, support bacteria growth and protect it from sanitizer.  Like not cleaning racking tubing properly, it's the kind of thing you can get away with for a while or it will fly beneath the radar as a background problem, then you don't get away with it anymore.

Offline gymrat

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Re: Question for experienced homebrewers who still bottle condition
« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2012, 07:54:40 AM »
I would think the heat from the dishwasher would kill any bacteria that tries to grow. Also the night before I bottle I bake my bottles at 250F for an hour. But I may start hitting them with the bottle brush on rinse day just as an added precaution.
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