Bottle Conditioned beers need a little more care than filtered beers. Here we tell you all you need to know. The traditional method of bottling beer involves retaining a small amount of yeast and sugars in the beer as it is capped. The yeast then consume the sugars and this carbonates the beer i.e. makes it a little bit fizzy so it doesn’t taste flat. The result of bottle conditioning is that you will get a very thin film of yeast at the bottom of the bottle called the sediment. This is just the sleeping yeast cells than fall out of the liquid when there is nothing left for them to eat. If you don’t mind a bit of haze then you don’t have to worry as much, the haze is perfectly safe and does not affect the flavour. However If you prefer beer to be clear, then you will need to take a few simple steps to avoid disturbing the sediment as you pour.
- Store your beer bottle upright – This ensures that the sediment sinks to the bottom. If you can’t do this all of the time then move to an upright position at least a day before opening.
- Get the temperature right – Lagers and American style beers should be cold served so store in the fridge. Ales are ideally served at a temperature between 10°C and 14°C, so either store in a cellar/garage or keep in the fridge but remove 30 mins before opening. Never let bottle conditioned beers get too hot i.e. leave in a hot car as you will wake the yeast and the bottle may blow its top. Storing any beer warm can also introduce some unpleasant flavours so keep as cool as you can. N.B. Some ales will develop a “chill haze” if served too cold – this just makes the beer look hazy but is just protein in the beer and it will disappear once the beer returns to the correct temperature.
- Use a glass and get it ready – As it is a living product it is possible that the yeast produce more CO2 than normal. In this scenario you will only have a few seconds between opening and all the gas wanting to escape. If you have a glass on hand then there is no problem as you can just pour as normal but if you haven’t prepared then the bottle can “gush” which is where a significant amount of foam comes out of the top. N.B. Use a glass that can take the full bottle i.e. a pint glass for a 500ml bottle.
- Avoid the “Glug” – You want to keep the sediment at the bottom of the bottle so pour slowly and smoothly. Air going back in to the bottle can disturb this sediment, try to avoid the bottle “glugging”. A few ‘glugs’ when you first start pouring can’t be helped but once you’ve emptied the neck then try to pour as quietly as possible.
- Pour it all in one go – If you pour half then upright the bottle, the beer returning to the bottom will disturb the sediment so your second half will be cloudy. If you are pouring a number of glasses then try to keep the bottle close to the pouring angle between pours to stop beer moving back down the bottle.
- Leave a little bit in the bottom – The last 20ml or so in the bottle will contain some sediment. Therefore leave it in the bottle to avoid a hazy beer.
This guide will help you to serve beer for maximum enjoyment, any questions then please get in touch.