Bottle conditioned beer is a live product that can change and enhance over time. When bottled a small amount of yeast is added that causes a secondary fermentation and maturation whilst the beer is in the bottle similar to what might happen in cask beer. This can cause a number of processes to happen:
- It can create a much more complex beer that has much more depth of flavour as subtleties in the beer are allowed to develop over time. This can create many layers of flavour which change the longer the bottle is left to age.
- It also cause a much more natural and softer carbonation in the beer in comparison to forced carbonation which is used in other beers and soft drinks. The by product of yeast is carbon dioxide and as this is a natural process through bottle conditioning, this gives the beer a smoothness and easy drinking quality.
- If the yeast is mixed into the beer when pouring it can produce a cloudiness to the beer. This is not always desired, but in some cases it is…
Bottle conditioning has many benefits but depending on the style of beer one must act with caution if you want to drink the beer in the best possible state. Here are some handy guidelines to follow:
- Never store beer lying down, always store up right. This allows for the yeast to collect at the bottom of the bottle instead of up the side of the bottle and in some cases right up to the opening. If you want to avoid having the yeast present in your beer then keep it standing!
- When pouring, don’t allow the beer to glug out of the bottle as this will cause the yeast at the bottom to mix with the beer instead hold the bottle horizontal and bring the glass to the bottle rather than the other way round. This way little movement is needed when pouring. Also leave the very end of the beer in the bottle along with the yeast.
- For beers the cloudiness is a good feature and a sign of quality. For example Hefeweizen should be cloudy and you would be very disappointed if it wasn’t. Many think it is cloudy because it is a wheat beer but it is actually the yeast that makes it so. So when you buy a bottle of the stuff the correct way to pour is pour half the bottle into a glass and then swirl the rest to mix in the yeast and pour the rest in and enjoy. This is the same for many Belgian beers and others where the cloudiness and yeast is intentional.
And yeast isn’t bad for you! Brewer’s yeast is a rich source of B-complex vitamins, protein and minerals such as chromium. And really if you want to drink it go ahead it won’t do you any harm but make sure to mix it in well while pouring as drinking just the yeast isn’t the most pleasant experience. So there you have it, bottle conditioned beer – explained!
Thanks for reading!