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Bottle or keg conditioning and aging in general

New kegger here. As most say, you’ll never turn back after the switch to kegging. And I certainly never will, but I do still have my reservations. So the big thing I liked about bottling was that my beers stay at room temp in a closet and over time just get better and better. I put a sixer in the fridge when I want one, but the rest continue to condition and improve. In the keg, I feel as though once I put it in the kegerator it is done improving. I’m not a fermentation scientist, so I’m looking for advice here. But once it drops to 38 degrees is there really any conditioning or aging that is occuring (with an ale yeast)?

So what can a kegger do to have that same benefit of conditioning time that a bottler has? I’ve started going a few extra weeks in the secondary and then cold crashing and racking to the keg. But then the whole batch is cold, and I go back to my original question: what improvements can I see in the beer once its cold? The great thing with a bottle is that I can try just one, and if its still green, I let the rest sit a couple more weeks. With the keg, I cold crash then carb then try it… if its still green am I just outta luck? Thanks for the thoughts.

I believe that beer improves with cold conditioning and bulk storage to a much greater degree than storing individual bottles at room temperature. There is also a greatly reduced risk of oxidation with cold bulk storage. I have heard that oxidation reactions occur 2 to 3 time faster at room temperature compared to 40 degree refrigeration. It might be a good experiment for you to split a batch half into a keg kept cold and half into bottles stored at room temperature. Then anytime you are going to have a “couple of beers” you could drink one of each over the course of several months and see for yourself which storage method gives you better results.

Just keg the beer and then store the keg at room temp or a little cooler if you want to age similar to a bottle.

beers still age in the keg. I’ve got a keg of RyePA and I had a friend stop over the other day who had a glass 2 weeks ago. He took a sip, stopped, took another sip and said “damn, flavors really came together”

With that said, I still bottle all my bigger beers.

I both bottle and keg now, depending on the beer and my mood at the moment…I’ve found kegged beer ages nicely after kegging and while refrigerated (the last pint is ALWAYS the best)…and of course the same applies to bottled beer…this is a great thread and I’m looking forward to reading other’s replies…

It’s good to hear from long-time keggers that the beer really does improve with age while cold. The one and only batch I’ve kegged didn’t last long, which is a good thing. But that didn’t give much time to really see how well it aged. Bottling just surprised me early on as I made a bavarian hef which most say to drink young. I pulled some out of the closet around 6 months and it changed the way I see the world. It was awesome. Once I put a keg on tap I just want to drink it. I must learn beer restraint (or get more taps…).

My kegerator only holds 3 cornies. If I carbed and tapped a keg and didn’t feel it was ready, I’m guessing that pulling it out and letting it come back up to room temp probably wouldn’t be a good thing. Is there any validity to that statement?

In my experience, no, if you’ve sanitized properly and not aerated the beer when filling the pre-purged keg.
But it likely depends to some degree on the type of beer.

I store some of my stronger beers (and ALL of my porters) for 8 months or more at ambient basement temperature (in my house, that’s a nominal 60°F year 'round). Never a problem there.

If the beer is of a more normal gravity or a lower “session style” gravity, I’m guessing that you probably wouldn’t want to leave it unrefrigerated for more than a month or so.
I’m sure you’ll get some alternate opinions, so add 'em up and take an average. :cheers:

Thanks for all the great advice on this. It all led me to cold crash the latest Farmhouse Biere de Table and I’m looking forward to seeing how this one ages. The sample tasted great already! :cheers:

I recently kegged a BDT after bottling one about a year ago. The bottled version sat at room temp for about a month then all went into fridge (about 2 months to glass). I did notice somewhat of a degradation. The flavors were less pronounced by the last bottle. Fruity flavors had subsided which led the beer to be just a tad too sweet for me. The kegged version got kegged and cooled immediately after fermentation (1 month to glass). Although too green within the first 2 weeks, the keg finished superbly!

My thoughts are since the conditioning process was cold, it was slowed down enough to keep the beer at it’s prime for longer.

Don’t forget that cold conditioning makes the beer really clear over time as well

[quote=“Creepy”]IOnce I put a keg on tap I just want to drink it. I must learn beer restraint (or get more taps…).

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my kegerator holds three, but I Only have two taps. Two are for drinking and one is for aging. I put the new on on the gas for a week or two and then disconnect it and let it sit while I drink off the other two.

Welcome to the wonderful world of kegging. Everyone has already addressed how beers condition in kegs vs. bottles, so now I will suggest your next purchase be a bottle filler like the Blichmann beer gun. Wonderful. I will often bottle big beers off the keg to 1) let them condition at the warmer temperature for longer periods of time, 2) save space in the kegerator as it takes me forever to finish 4.5 gallons of barleywine, 3) share bottled beer with friends, and 4) it is so easy.

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