Author Topic: Quality of beer in keg vs bottle  (Read 1213 times)

Offline Kolin Mcintire

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Quality of beer in keg vs bottle
« on: April 27, 2020, 11:45:38 AM »
I've been brewing for a very long time and have had my ups and downs.  But since I retired a few years ago I have refined my processes and am making some very fine beer.  I keg everything and force carbonate with carbonation stone.  When I serve my beer out of the keg the vast majority of it is comparable to many commercially available craft beer.  I will serve from the keg until I need it for my next beer, then I will bottle it using my Blichmann Beer Gun v2.  I purge the bottle for about 4 seconds with CO2, fill it till all the foam is also purged and I have liquid beer spilling over, then I will withdraw the wand and purge the bottle neck with CO2 for a couple seconds.  I immediately put a cap on it, but don't seal it with the capper until I have filled four bottles.  Now, here is my question...  Although the beer is SO good out of the keg, and I think I am following all procedures religiously, after a couple or three weeks in the bottle, the beer quality has diminished greatly.  Although I have been brewing for over 20 years, I still cannot describe beer flavors.  To me, beer is good or not good.  It tastes like "homebrew" or it doesn't...  At any rate, after a few weeks in the bottle, my beer tastes like "homebrew"...  I am very consistent with my sanitation, etc...

Does anyone have any idea what might be causing this?  An additional note.  It seems to affect my lighter beers more than my darker ones.  I have some browns and ambers that seem to maintain that great keg taste more than my Hefs and Cream Ales.

Please help...

Old Goat....

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Re: Quality of beer in keg vs bottle
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2020, 11:54:15 AM »
I've been brewing for a very long time and have had my ups and downs.  But since I retired a few years ago I have refined my processes and am making some very fine beer.  I keg everything and force carbonate with carbonation stone.  When I serve my beer out of the keg the vast majority of it is comparable to many commercially available craft beer.  I will serve from the keg until I need it for my next beer, then I will bottle it using my Blichmann Beer Gun v2.  I purge the bottle for about 4 seconds with CO2, fill it till all the foam is also purged and I have liquid beer spilling over, then I will withdraw the wand and purge the bottle neck with CO2 for a couple seconds.  I immediately put a cap on it, but don't seal it with the capper until I have filled four bottles.  Now, here is my question...  Although the beer is SO good out of the keg, and I think I am following all procedures religiously, after a couple or three weeks in the bottle, the beer quality has diminished greatly.  Although I have been brewing for over 20 years, I still cannot describe beer flavors.  To me, beer is good or not good.  It tastes like "homebrew" or it doesn't...  At any rate, after a few weeks in the bottle, my beer tastes like "homebrew"...  I am very consistent with my sanitation, etc...

Does anyone have any idea what might be causing this?  An additional note.  It seems to affect my lighter beers more than my darker ones.  I have some browns and ambers that seem to maintain that great keg taste more than my Hefs and Cream Ales.

Please help...

Old Goat....

When you say "diminished greatly", do you mean hop flavor/aroma? Malt flavor?

What you are describing sounds like oxygen pickup at bottling leading to muted flavors downstream. The process you are describing is not sufficient to totally eliminate oxygen from the bottles. Normally, on say a production line, you'd purge, then pull a vacuum, then purge, then pull a vacuum, etc. for 3 cycles before the bottle could be said to be completely purged of O2.

Offline Kevin

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Re: Quality of beer in keg vs bottle
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2020, 12:35:51 PM »
Try capping each bottle immediately after the last purge. Consume the remaining bottled beer sooner than "a few weeks". If that is not practical don't brew your next batches until the keg is empty or very near so.
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Offline tommymorris

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Quality of beer in keg vs bottle
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2020, 01:51:33 PM »
Sherry, cardboard, buttery are all flavors associated with oxidation. If the beer was good in the keg but the bottles picked up these flavors it is almost definitely due to oxidation from your bottling process.

I am guessing what you are describing as the “homebrew” flavor is a combination of those flavors above.

PS. I have had this happen also. I am no expert with the beer gun. Your procedure sounds fine.

Offline BrewBama

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Re: Quality of beer in keg vs bottle
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2020, 02:30:07 PM »
Could you add a pinch of yeast to each bottle as you fill them in an effort to consume the inadvertent O2 pickup?


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Offline Die Beerery

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Re: Quality of beer in keg vs bottle
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2020, 02:49:06 PM »
Could you add a pinch of yeast to each bottle as you fill them in an effort to consume the inadvertent O2 pickup?


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That would only work if there was some extract there, for the yeast to wake up. Only active yeast can consume.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Quality of beer in keg vs bottle
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2020, 03:13:58 PM »
Some have said they have the Beergun CO2 Set to 1 or 2 PSI the introduce the CO2 with less mixing. I have one bottle and regulator for the beer gun, and another on keg, so that is what I do. I go for a 10 count on the CO2.

It also helps to have enough foam, so that you cap on foam.
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Offline BrewBama

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Re: Quality of beer in keg vs bottle
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2020, 04:13:05 PM »
Could you add a pinch of yeast to each bottle as you fill them in an effort to consume the inadvertent O2 pickup?


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That would only work if there was some extract there, for the yeast to wake up. Only active yeast can consume.
I dunno. I recall in one of the many interviews I’ve heard featuring Charlie Bamforth, he said if your beer exhibits the cardboard off flavors from oxidation to run it across yeast. He said the yeast will clean up the off flavors. I remember the interviewer was as surprised as I was to hear that.

Not sure if it would work as an ounce of prevention or not. ...but since the beer is already oxidized, I’d try it.


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Offline Die Beerery

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Re: Quality of beer in keg vs bottle
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2020, 04:17:18 PM »
Could you add a pinch of yeast to each bottle as you fill them in an effort to consume the inadvertent O2 pickup?


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That would only work if there was some extract there, for the yeast to wake up. Only active yeast can consume.
I dunno. I recall in one of the many interviews I’ve heard featuring Charlie Bamforth, he said if your beer exhibits the cardboard off flavors from oxidation to run it across yeast. He said the yeast will clean up the off flavors. I remember the interviewer was as surprised as I was to hear that.

Not sure if it would work as an ounce of prevention or not. ...but since the beer is already oxidized, I’d try it.


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Lets think about this logically for a minute. IF that was the case, then, since little to no homebrew (and smaller commercial for that point) is sterile filtered and contains yeast it would never oxidized because of the amount of yeast it contains. We all know this is not true.
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Offline BrewBama

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Re: Quality of beer in keg vs bottle
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2020, 04:59:14 PM »
Well, you’ll need to take that up with Charlie. I am simply repeating what I heard him say.

My point is: what can it hurt?  The beer already tastes like cardboard.  If it doesn’t work you have beer that tastes like cardboard. If it does... cool!


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Offline Die Beerery

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Re: Quality of beer in keg vs bottle
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2020, 05:39:52 PM »
Well, you’ll need to take that up with Charlie. I am simply repeating what I heard him say.

My point is: what can it hurt?  The beer already tastes like cardboard.  If it doesn’t work you have beer that tastes like cardboard. If it does... cool!


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Well a lot of people say a lot of things, and things change, get revised, are taken out of context, etc etc.
Bamforth is also oft quoted saying boil vigorously  ~10 years ago, but then you read his most current book "Freshness" and says the exact opposite. Just because you have some credentials doesn't mean everything you say is true, malicious or well intended. I think our current state of the world is a prime example of that.

Certainly one can add some yeast and see if it works, sure.

But to step back and discount logically thinking about possible reasons why it probably won't work seems odd. If yeast was the cure all, then breweries would not try and mitigate oxidation on the hot side, worry about thermal and sheer stress, or go though tremendous lengths to control post fermentation oxygen. Yeast consuming oxygen, is one thing, sure, but to reverse oxygen degradation is entirely another. We could just eat yeast and live forever. ;D

 Which we all can agree, is not the case.

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Offline BrewBama

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Quality of beer in keg vs bottle
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2020, 05:44:23 PM »
https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=33105.0

I was just reading through Chapter 6 of Freshness by Bamforth, and I noticed the following passage:

"I think the answer lies with yeast.  Yeast loves to reduce carbonyl substances.  If you take a beer with pronounced cardboard/wet paper character and treat it with a good virile yeast, the stale notes will be removed."

Edit:   Freshness was published in 2017.

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« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 05:53:40 PM by BrewBama »
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Big Monk

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Re: Quality of beer in keg vs bottle
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2020, 06:00:15 PM »
https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=33105.0

I was just reading through Chapter 6 of Freshness by Bamforth, and I noticed the following passage:

"I think the answer lies with yeast.  Yeast loves to reduce carbonyl substances.  If you take a beer with pronounced cardboard/wet paper character and treat it with a good virile yeast, the stale notes will be removed."

Edit:   Freshness was published in 2017.

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What Bamforth is saying, if you read that section of Chapter 6, is that before and during fermentation, so long as they are not bound up in other compounds and therefore not "free to roam", active yeast will consume those carbonyl substances. If they are already roaming free and oxidized in a finished beer, the deal is done.

No amount of virile yeast at that point can reverse oxidative damage.

EDIT: What's strange is how strong a statement this is

"I think the answer lies with yeast.  Yeast loves to reduce carbonyl substances.  If you take a beer with pronounced cardboard/wet paper character and treat it with a good virile yeast, the stale notes will be removed."

and how it seems to be contradicted in the very next few paragraphs by Bamforth.

« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 06:07:23 PM by Big Monk »

Offline BrewBama

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Quality of beer in keg vs bottle
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2020, 06:29:43 PM »
Well, I didn’t get that impression from the interview. (I’ve determined it was with Brad Smith)

I didn’t know fermenting beer tastes like cardboard.  I always thought the oxidized cardboard flavor was a result of mishandling post fermentation.  He clearly states “cardboard off flavor” in the interview and in the book which led me to believe he was discussing a post fermentation, finished product.

But, you could very well be right.  He could be wrong and what’s done is done. ...or he could be right.

In either case, I’m not going to attempt to explain what Dr Bamforth intended. It doesn’t collapse my world one way or the other. I’ll let him speak for himself.

I guess if I had bottles of oxidized beer that tasted of cardboard I could test his statement. But I don’t so I guess I’ll never know for myself.


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« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 07:32:09 PM by BrewBama »
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Re: Quality of beer in keg vs bottle
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2020, 06:32:45 PM »
I guess if I had bottles of oxidized beer that tasted of cardboard I could test his statement. But I don’t so I guess I’ll never know for myself.

At this point, we aren't even sure the OP would describe the "homebrew" flavor he's getting as the classic oxidation qualities. We may have put the cart before the horse.

He could be talking about the "muting" or degradation of hop aroma/flavor and malt flavor. Still, oxygen would be the likely culprit but it changes the discussion a little bit away from staleness.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 06:35:13 PM by Big Monk »