Monday 16 May 2022
Bottling 1880 - 1914 (part 3)
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.
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.