Author Topic: Belgian Strong Ale Bottles  (Read 1547 times)

Offline Brewtopalonian

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Belgian Strong Ale Bottles
« on: November 26, 2017, 07:49:09 PM »
Hi All!

I'm a keg brewer for the most part.  I haven't bottled since I got my kegerator and switched to all grain batches.  However, I am going to be making a Duvel Clone next week (I know, bottling is a ways off).  From everything I've read, it seems as though bottling is really the only way to go for a Belgian Golden Strong Ale as the carbonation is different (I'm not here to debate this, it's simply the overwhelming majority of brewers believe this makes a difference in this ale).  I was wondering if you had any suggestions for the type of bottles to use for this?  I will be carbonating to 3-4 vols, which is a lot more than most beers I've brewed.  I'm guessing this is what gives Duvel its champagne like mouth feel.  Will standard beer bottles and caps be able to withstand this pressure?  My LHBS has "Belgian Beer Bottles w/corks", is this a gimmick or is it designed for exactly this purpose?  Is the glass stronger than typical beer bottles?  If I go this route, should I get champagne wire caps for the corks? 

Thanks for any suggestions!  I'm really excited to brew this beer!
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Belgian Strong Ale Bottles
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2017, 08:57:32 PM »
You don't need to bottle this.  I doubt that the "overwhelming majority of brewers believe this makes a difference in this ale".

I've been bottling exclusively for ~150 batches since 1999.  I never use more than 3/4 cup priming sugar for 5 gallons.  It's not worth the gushers you'll get if you do.
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Offline Brewtopalonian

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Re: Belgian Strong Ale Bottles
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2017, 09:12:17 PM »
Thanks Dave.  I think you've just given me my next experiment.  I'll try a double blind study with some overly enthusiastic participants to see if they can tell the difference between a beer I've force carbonated in a keg vs. a bottle carbonated beer.   :D

I say "the overwhelming majority of brewers believe this makes a difference in this ale" because for the dozens of recipes I've read for Duvel, there tends to be an agreement in regards to bottling vs kegging.  However, for the life of me I can't find any info on whether or not they used special bottles for this.
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Offline denny

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Re: Belgian Strong Ale Bottles
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2017, 09:36:09 PM »
I once did an experiment where I force carbed beer and also bottled it with table sugar, brown sugar, honey and a few other things I don't recall.  It was really difficult to try to get the all carbed to the same level, but I think I got pretty close.  I gave them 2 months for the CO2 to absorb.  When people tried them, no one could tell one from another nor had a preference for any of them.
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Offline denny

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Re: Belgian Strong Ale Bottles
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2017, 09:36:42 PM »
Thanks Dave.  I think you've just given me my next experiment.  I'll try a double blind study with some overly enthusiastic participants to see if they can tell the difference between a beer I've force carbonated in a keg vs. a bottle carbonated beer.   :D

I say "the overwhelming majority of brewers believe this makes a difference in this ale" because for the dozens of recipes I've read for Duvel, there tends to be an agreement in regards to bottling vs kegging.  However, for the life of me I can't find any info on whether or not they used special bottles for this.

You need to use bottles with a punt in the bottom, like champagne bottles.
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Offline Brewtopalonian

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Re: Belgian Strong Ale Bottles
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2017, 09:45:43 PM »
Awesome, thanks for the input!  Champagne bottles sounds like fun.  It also sounds expensive.  Either way it's going to be a fun brew, can't wait to try it.  I'll be trying some new techniques that I haven't done before such as step mashing and cold conditioning and letting the yeast raise the temp of the beer to 81... Things that don't normally make sense. 
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Offline Nathan

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Re: Belgian Strong Ale Bottles
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2017, 01:25:20 AM »
I’ve had good luck with 1 l and . 5 l swing tops bottling this style of ale   I’d say that the yeast and warm temps have a lot to do with the carbonation level I would be hesitant to put more than a cup of priming sugar in 5 gallons batch


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Offline Brewtopalonian

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Re: Belgian Strong Ale Bottles
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2017, 04:57:52 AM »
I’ve had good luck with 1 l and . 5 l swing tops bottling this style of ale   I’d say that the yeast and warm temps have a lot to do with the carbonation level I would be hesitant to put more than a cup of priming sugar in 5 gallons batch


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The recipe calls for a little over 5 ounces by weight of corn sugar... Does that sound right?
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Offline Nathan

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Re: Belgian Strong Ale Bottles
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2017, 06:46:36 AM »
I’ve had good luck with 1 l and . 5 l swing tops bottling this style of ale   I’d say that the yeast and warm temps have a lot to do with the carbonation level I would be hesitant to put more than a cup of priming sugar in 5 gallons batch


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The recipe calls for a little over 5 ounces by weight of corn sugar... Does that sound right?
Cup weighs about 7 ounces so 5 would be fine just over 3/4 cup


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Offline ethinson

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Re: Belgian Strong Ale Bottles
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2017, 02:50:54 PM »
Is there a reason to do the carb up that high? Just "to style"? 4 volumes is close to soda/champagne levels and that seems a little excessive. 

In my experience I haven't had any issues with standard 12 and 22oz beer bottles and crown caps, for my Belgian Dark Strong, even with bottle conditioning for over a year.  But I also set my carbonation level at 2.7 or so volumes.  I've never gotten feedback that it was undercarbed, but to each their own.

If you do the corks you absolutely need the cage to hold it (unless you put the cork all the way in and cap over top of it, but with the style bottle you describe I don't think you can do that).
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Belgian Strong Ale Bottles
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2017, 04:03:01 PM »
In my experience I haven't had any issues with standard 12 and 22oz beer bottles and crown caps, for my Belgian Dark Strong, even with bottle conditioning for over a year.  But I also set my carbonation level at 2.7 or so volumes.  I've never gotten feedback that it was undercarbed, but to each their own.

+1, ditto, bingo.  Fully carbonated at a reasonable 2.3-2.7 volumes CO2 has NEVER been considered "undercarbonated" in my experience either.
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Offline Stevie

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Re: Belgian Strong Ale Bottles
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2017, 04:10:36 PM »
I’ve been dinged for under carb in a saison. That was 3 volumes. The “effervescent” descriptor was cited and the judge said it should have been champagne like.

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Re: Belgian Strong Ale Bottles
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2017, 06:35:10 PM »
I’ve been dinged for under carb in a saison. That was 3 volumes. The “effervescent” descriptor was cited and the judge said it should have been champagne like.

Was it a gusher?  No?  Then I doubt it was truly 3 volumes.  Something odd happened in the bottling or bottle-priming process.  Maybe the yeast was really tired, or temperature effects, or.... I'd have to be there to know for sure.

Also keep in mind.... individual judges are human.  Was this beer entered into at least 2 or 3 competitions?  Or was this just one judge's opinion?  Did you agree with his opinion, or not?
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Offline Stevie

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Re: Belgian Strong Ale Bottles
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2017, 06:59:53 PM »
No it wasn’t a gusher, both of the judges noted it, and all other bottles were fine to my memory and I bottled primed off of a keg so the sugar was well dissolved. Beer scored well enough otherwise. Actually the judges notes were near identical which leads me to think one judge influenced the other too much.

You said it doesn’t matter in your experience and I mentioned a case in mine where it did.

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Re: Belgian Strong Ale Bottles
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2017, 09:16:48 PM »
You said it doesn’t matter in your experience and I mentioned a case in mine where it did.

Fair enough.

the judges notes were near identical which leads me to think one judge influenced the other too much.

...And that is typical and unfortunate, and why I rarely enter competitions anymore... besides the fact that half my beers suck pretty bad.  ;)
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