Monday 16 May 2022

Bottling 1880 - 1914 (part 3)

The original method of bottle-conditioning fell out of favour on account of drinkers’ preference for clear beer. Several new methods of bottling were developed in the final decades of the 19th century which resulted in sediment-free beer.

Five different methods of bottling were employed:

1.    Natural conditioning.
2.    Forced bottling.
3.    Simple carbonation.
4.    Quick chilling and filtering.
5.    Prolonged chilling and filtering.

Natural conditioning
This was the oldest form of bottling. And, because it relied on natural processes, also the trickiest to perform consistently. It only worked well with beers specifically brewed for the purpose.

Before bottling, beer was allowed to condition for a month in cask. There then followed a period of conditioning in the bottle of between 2 and 6 weeks, the average being about 4 weeks. The store where the conditioning took place was ideally between 55º and 60º F, as this was the temperature range which produced the best flavour.

The procedure for Strong ales was different. Such beers were aged between 6 and 12 months in cask after racking and then allowed to condition a further 6 months after bottling. Though it appears many brewers were too impatient to follow this procedure and often beers were given too little time to properly develop flavour and condition.

Casks were moved to the bottling store 1 to 2 weeks before bottling and soft spiled to allow most of the carbonation to dissipate. Some brewers primed with sugar to provide fermentable material for conditioning in the bottle, but others relied on the trickier method of using residual sugars in the beer itself.

Brewers were moving over to quicker and more reliable methods of bottling, even while accepting that they couldn’t match natural conditioning for flavour. Which is why some brewers of top-class Pale Ales and Stouts, such as Bass, Guinness and Whitbread, insisted on their beers being bottle-conditioned.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"others relied on the trickier method of using residual sugars in the beer itself."

If you have any details on how they consistently mamaged that it would be interesting to read, whether they had Brett still working or somehow managed to get regular yeast to quit early before fully attenuating and then get roused at bottling time.I'd think the risk of bottle bombs, gushers or totally flat beer would be pretty awful for a commercial establishment.