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Conditioning

Thinking about kegging and was wondering about how to condition the beer. When my bottles age they seem to get better. Do you carbonate and leave in the keg for a period or do you age in a secondary.

Really depends on the beer. Some beers are just fine with very little aging.

Some (Lagers for instance) see a lot of improvement by extended periods of cold storage.

I started kegging right around Christmas this year and have kegged 6 batches since then. The first one I didn’t get the carbonation figured out until about the last third of the keg. I have since gotten that figured out to where I can adjust it to where I like it. I have found that once it is carbonated (average about a week) and I drop pressure back to serving pressure that more time in kegerator allows flavors to blend/mature. I have found that the samples I pulled the first week to the third week to increase in quality. I sometimes have a hard time reminding myself to wait that 2-3 weeks after it’s hooked up in kegerator but that’s when mine have really hit their stride.

If I can get my timing right, I’d have my beers staggered enough that I could let a new batch ride for 3 weeks to gradually carb at serving temp before I am ready to drink it and still have a good beer ready to go in the mean time on the second tap. My problem is I enjoy variety in my beers so I tend to drink both kegs down within a week of each other and have to wait to carb and age two new ones. :lol:

The one I’ll be really curious about is the Bourbon Barrel Porter I currently have kegged for my Christmas beer this year. I wonder if it will still need to sit in fridge for 2-3 weeks after 8 months in keg at cellar temps.

:cheers:
Rad

In my experience talking to different brew masters, they tend to be very fussy about conditioning.

At Beau’s Brewery in Ontario, we tried some beer out of one of the brights which had been conditioning for 3 weeks. Even the owner thought it was almost there, but the head brewer was not yet impressed with the fine details of the cabonnation.

I have also heard the brew master from Big Rock (Alberta) comment on aging times for beers. He follows a rule of 1 week of aging/conditioning for every degree plato of the beer. Meaning most beers are looking at a good 2-3 months before bottling.

If I’m going to age a beer for 8-12 months I will do it in secondary. A lot of sediment will settle out in that time and I would prefer it to remain there rather than a keg. Plus it doesn’t tie up a keg for that long.
When I age in a keg I will put CO2 on it for a couple reasons. One is to keep the lid sealed and the other is so its carbed when put into rotation.

[quote=“Loopie Beer”]If I’m going to age a beer for 8-12 months I will do it in secondary. A lot of sediment will settle out in that time and I would prefer it to remain there rather than a keg. Plus it doesn’t tie up a keg for that long.
When I age in a keg I will put CO2 on it for a couple reasons. One is to keep the lid sealed and the other is so its carbed when put into rotation.[/quote]
If you age a beer that long in a secondary how do you carbonate it ? Or doesn’t it need carbonation for aging ?

The only advantage to aging in something other than a keg is that it won’t tie up a keg. Yes, kegs cost more than carboys, but they are safer, protect the beer better and allow you to carbonate while you are aging.

To get rid of the sediment, rack the beer from one keg to a clean one after conditioning. It is amazingly easy to make a transfer hose with keg beer ports on both ends and use your CO2 tank to push the beer to the new keg while you slowly vent it with the pressure port on the lid. Just remember to let the keg sit for a day or so without movement before emptying it, and to pull some beer before the transfer to suck out the sediment right around the dip tube.

Maybe I’m just a cheap bastard but that seems like a waste of CO2. In my limited experience, I can only carb + dispense +/- 4 kegs with a 5 lb tank and I run out. Not to mention I don’t have enough kegs to use any for aging.
:cheers:

I would look into that a little bit. A 5lbs tank should be able to carb and serve 15-20 kegs in my experience.

And keep in mind, most of that CO2 use would be for the conditioning. Serving (or pushing liquid from one keg to another) would not make a serious impact on your CO2 use.

I tend to condition in my kegs for 3 weeks minimum before I put them on tap. This rounds out the beers and helps marry the flavors together.

So the idea of carbinating the beer within a couple of days of ending fermentation and start drinking is not recommended ?

[quote=“Brew Cat”]So the idea of carbinating the beer within a couple of days of ending fermentation and start drinking is not recommended ?[/quote]Definitely not.

I thought it sounded to good to be true.

Depends what you like. I’m like MullerBrau on this one - it is a rare beer that I find is ready to drink less than a month after fermentation is done, but it can happen.

You can do it, but the CO2 will not have dissolved and hydrated propperly in that time.

You would notice the bubbles being a little larger than in a well conditioned beer. And the beer will go flat quicker. There would also be less consistancy in the carbonnation from day to day - could seem flat one day / overcarbed the next.

As far as flavor goes, a little cold conditining time can really round off the beer, as well as clean up any remaining off-flavors.

[quote=“Brew Cat”][quote=“Loopie Beer”]If I’m going to age a beer for 8-12 months I will do it in secondary. A lot of sediment will settle out in that time and I would prefer it to remain there rather than a keg. Plus it doesn’t tie up a keg for that long.
When I age in a keg I will put CO2 on it for a couple reasons. One is to keep the lid sealed and the other is so its carbed when put into rotation.[/quote]
If you age a beer that long in a secondary how do you carbonate it ? Or doesn’t it need carbonation for aging ?[/quote]
Well you are force carbing with the CO2 so yeast health/count doesn’t matter. As far as aging under pressure the beer will only absorb the set volumes of CO2. It doesn’t continuously absorb CO2.

So for my Bourbon Barrel porter, I hit it with 30 PSI originally to seal it up and plan to let it sit until December. Should I hit it with any more CO2 over that period of time as I change out other kegs or just let it be until I’m ready to carb it?

:cheers:
Rad

There is no advantage that I am aware of to conditioning beer uncarbonated. If it is in a keg, go ahead and carbonate now rather than waiting. As others have said, it does that some time before the carbonation “sets” well.

I assumed there was no advantage to not carbing it, my limitation is my equipment. I just have one 5 lb CO2 bottle atm with a single line regulator and a 2 hose manifold to split it out inside my kegerator. Typically to seal up a keg, I have been disconnecting a gas line from a keg in kegerator, shutting off manifold to second keg and hitting the new keg with 30 PSI to seal it up and then letting it sit in my basement (65 year round) until there’s space in the kegerator. I am getting a second 5 lb CO2 tank from my my uncle who doesn’t use it anymore, guess I’ll just have to go pick up a spare regulator. :stuck_out_tongue: Then I can carb staged kegs outside of the kegerator while they wait to go in.

:cheers:
Rad

Simplifying from the above posts this is my goal. Rack from fermenter to conditioning keg at cellar temperature , carbonate and let age. Push with co2 into serving keg after conditioning , let chill for 24 hrs and serve. It appears that I would need a minimum of two kegs.

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