Author Topic: Bulk or bottle aging?  (Read 944 times)

Offline cgg

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Bulk or bottle aging?
« on: April 27, 2015, 12:07:38 PM »
Imperial stout has been in primary for one month and I am ready to take it off the cake.

Better to let it age in a secondary for a month or so, or bottle now to start  aging?

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Bulk or bottle aging?
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2015, 12:44:43 PM »
Ahh the great debate. there may or may not be differences in how a beer ages in bulk vs. in a bottle. For me, unless I have a good reason for extended bulk ageing it's not something I bother with. I will age for a few months in a barrel sometimes but that's about the barrel. Sours will bulk age because I will likely want to blend them before bottling and I want to see where they are going to end up before doing that.

I personally would go straight to bottle in the situation you describe but it's fine to bulk age it as well. You will probably get more microoxidation in a bunged carboy than in a capped bottle so that's a possible differnce. This will produce the dark fruit type flavors slightly more quickly... possibly.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Bulk or bottle aging?
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2015, 03:29:20 PM »
I don't think another month is enough time to develop noticeable aged character in the beer so it probably doesn't matter one way or another which approach you take. That may be more or less true depending upon the condition of the aging beer. That stout may need some time before it becomes drinkable because the alcohol is too prominent, the flavors haven't integrated well yet, etc. and if that is why you plan on aging another month then the method for aging isn't going to make much of a difference either way.

If you want to age the beer to develop an aged character then you need to look at a longer time frame and how you age it can make a difference. If you want to develop more of the oxygen-derived flavors then bulk aging would be better but some of the aged character will occur regardless of container.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Bulk or bottle aging?
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2015, 12:10:22 AM »
Either is a valid option. Bottle aging will probably oxidize earlier than bulk aging since the caps are not impervious to oxygen. Kegs and carboys are much more impervious. If you want the oxidation flavors, then bottles are your best bet. If not, bulk aging.

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Bulk or bottle aging?
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2015, 02:31:40 AM »
What about oxygen scavenging caps and waxed bottles?  ;)
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Offline Stevie

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Re: Bulk or bottle aging?
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2015, 02:36:54 AM »
Every time I get the idea to wax some bottles, I open one from a commercial brewery. That cures me of that nonsense real quick.

Offline majorvices

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Re: Bulk or bottle aging?
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2015, 05:56:38 AM »
What about oxygen scavenging caps and waxed bottles?  ;)

O2 scavenging caps help remove some of o2 present in head space, but nat conditioning should take care of that any way. It still doesn't prevent storage oxidation. I'm not aware that waxing bottles does anything to slow down o2 ingress.

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Bulk or bottle aging?
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2015, 11:35:10 AM »
I waxed a batch of Dubbel about five years ago - it was Tomme Arthur's recipe using raisins.  It has held up remarkably well FWIW.  I should think that the wax helps inhibit oxidative effects...they were bottled from the keg using a beer gun and purged each bottle well with CO2 as I went.  Then again a little sherry note has developed over time and thankfully so....YMMV of course.  Most of my beers are kegged anymore so I bulk age for the bulk of my beers and transfer from primary under a blanket of CO2 at that.
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Offline Philbrew

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Re: Bulk or bottle aging?
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2015, 04:36:58 PM »
Either is a valid option. Bottle aging will probably oxidize earlier than bulk aging since the caps are not impervious to oxygen. Kegs and carboys are much more impervious. If you want the oxidation flavors, then bottles are your best bet. If not, bulk aging.
My noob ignorance is on display here, but asking questions is how ya learn.  I'm having trouble understanding the mechanics of bottle storage oxidation.  CO2 is a smaller molecule than O2.  If there is positive CO2 pressure in the bottle and the co2 can't get out, how does the O2 get in?  Or does the cap age to the point where it looses seal and the CO2 pressure is lost?
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Bulk or bottle aging?
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2015, 04:43:39 PM »
  Or does the cap age to the point where it looses seal and the CO2 pressure is lost?

Yeah, I assume that is what happens sometimes. I buy bottles of barleywine ( and others) to put down for cellaring every year.  After a few years bottles begin to slowly lose carbonation as they start to pick up oxidative changes to the beer.


EDIT -  I'm sure there is O2 ingress incrementally over time, but it takes a certain amount of time until it becomes noticeable.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2015, 04:55:45 PM by HoosierBrew »
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Bulk or bottle aging?
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2015, 05:25:22 PM »
Either is a valid option. Bottle aging will probably oxidize earlier than bulk aging since the caps are not impervious to oxygen. Kegs and carboys are much more impervious. If you want the oxidation flavors, then bottles are your best bet. If not, bulk aging.
My noob ignorance is on display here, but asking questions is how ya learn.  I'm having trouble understanding the mechanics of bottle storage oxidation.  CO2 is a smaller molecule than O2.  If there is positive CO2 pressure in the bottle and the co2 can't get out, how does the O2 get in?  Or does the cap age to the point where it looses seal and the CO2 pressure is lost?

There is an exchange. I don';t exactly understand it but it is well documented that it happens.

Offline Philbrew

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Re: Bulk or bottle aging?
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2015, 06:41:41 PM »
Either is a valid option. Bottle aging will probably oxidize earlier than bulk aging since the caps are not impervious to oxygen. Kegs and carboys are much more impervious. If you want the oxidation flavors, then bottles are your best bet. If not, bulk aging.
My noob ignorance is on display here, but asking questions is how ya learn.  I'm having trouble understanding the mechanics of bottle storage oxidation.  CO2 is a smaller molecule than O2.  If there is positive CO2 pressure in the bottle and the co2 can't get out, how does the O2 get in?  Or does the cap age to the point where it looses seal and the CO2 pressure is lost?

There is an exchange. I don';t exactly understand it but it is well documented that it happens.
Oh, I have no doubt that it's real.  I am just curious.  And, hopefully one day, I'll have reason to explore it further.  Right now my long-term storage problem ain't oxidation.  It's thirsty friends.   :)
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Offline Phil_M

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Re: Bulk or bottle aging?
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2015, 06:56:02 PM »
I can't remember the exact name of the process, it may fall under osmosis or not, I don't remember...

But isn't there a process where gas #1 will diffuse into a space where pure gas #2 is under pressure? Since both are trying to reach equilibrium with respect to each other?

Maybe I've got something confused, but it sounds really familiar.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Bulk or bottle aging?
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2015, 07:20:04 PM »
I can't remember the exact name of the process, it may fall under osmosis or not, I don't remember...

But isn't there a process where gas #1 will diffuse into a space where pure gas #2 is under pressure? Since both are trying to reach equilibrium with respect to each other?

Maybe I've got something confused, but it sounds really familiar.
I think that's Le Châtlier's Principle. Since a crown cap is not completely impermeable to oxygen and CO2, they two gases will seek to reach partial pressures inside the bottle in equilibrium to the external storage space. This is why the bottles both lose carbonation and become oxidized over time.

Now, if there was some way to store your bottles in a sealed container that has been purged of oxygen and pressurized to about 2 volumes or so of CO2, then you'd be in good shape.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Bulk or bottle aging?
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2015, 08:42:20 PM »
Disclaimer: not a scientist, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn.

Don't forget that there are oxydized compounds in the beer and those compounds break down over time. There's more to oxydation than just O2 creating cardboard flavors/aromas.