Bottling the solution(?)
As I mentioned in an earlier post – my Belgian Gold beer was fermented by an incredibly low flocculating yeast. This means that the yeast stays suspended in solution for a very long time. My use of kegs with this beer has been giving me some issues with my end product – namely, every pint has much more yeast in it that I would like. This hasn’t totally stopped me from drinking it, but admittedly every time I pull a pint I pray to the beer gods that it will be clear. And that has yet to happen.
Kegging is great. I use it for fermentation and serving. It means less time cleaning bottles and more time brewing and drinking beer. Kegs always draw liquid from the bottle of the vessel. This has always faired well for me since I typically use high flocculating yeast – yeast that drops out of solution after it has finished fermentation, and forms a dense layer at the bottom of the keg. This layer is strong enough that drawing liquid from the bottom of the keg doesn’t disturb it substantially, and I able to serve clear pints. For Belgian Gold there is also a layer of yeast at the bottom of the keg, but in this case, it is very easily disturbed. In addition, there is still lots of yeast suspended in the beer. The result is a very cloudy beer, sometimes with ‘chunks’ of the yeast cake (the layer of yeast at the bottom of the keg). The effect of these yeast characteristics on the finished product (beer in the glass) is two fold since I keg twice. I usually transfer clear beer from my fermentation keg. I couldn’t do that with this beer. The beer I transfer from my serving kegs is even clearer – that is definitely not the case here.
I haven’t bottled in a long time. It’s tedious. One benefit of bottling over kegging is that pouring from a bottle draws liquid from the top of the vessel, not the bottom. Bottles also have less vertical height in comparison to a keg, which means the yeast has a shorter distance to ‘fall’ out of suspension. This low flocculating yeast either requires filtration equipment, or bottling to achieve clarity. I opted for bottling. I had some swing-tops around which I thankfully stored clean, so it wasn’t much work to sanitize and fill them. I also had use of a new growler filler attachment for my kegerator. It works well.
It is possible this beer is currently under attenuated as well. Allowing these bottles to warm up may make the beer a bit drier – which would be nice. If there still is fermentable sugar left in this beer (and I’m sure there is), this will also bottle condition the beer a bit. The beer is already carbonated from kegging, but this would help with storage by reducing oxidation risk. I just hope there isn’t too much sugar left that the bottles become dangerously carbonated.
The last purpose that bottling has served is to empty my keg… because I have a lot of beer to keg and I need them! I may also bring these bottle beers around for xmas gifts or enter one in a competition if it turns out how I wanted.
Finally, please note how the lights being burnt out in the kitchen makes it look like there is a spot light on my kegerator… Awesome. Maybe the beer gods are watching over after all.