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The Beer Brewing Process – Step 5 : Conditioning

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You have reached the final process that most home brew and craft beer will undergo before it is completed, packed and ready to ship to stores.  After all the changes that it has undergone, from malt to mash to wort and then finally to the beer that you’re familiar with, micro breweries will still want to perfect the taste and flavor with the process called Conditioning.  Some may call this process secondary fermentation but there is little actual fermentation taking place.  Instead, beer is cleared and aged to define its body and flavor.

Once beer fermentation is completed, the beer (as it is now called) is then moved or transferred to a new and clean container or vessel for conditioning. Transferring the beer to a cleaner container is necessary to avoid contaminating the new beer with the old yeast and the trub (the solids that have settled at the bottom of the container) from the initial fermentation.  Most home brewers use bottles or “bottle condition” the beer.

There are basically two types of conditioning that brewers utilize.  First is the process called Krausening in which brewers add fermenting wort to the finished beer.  Fermenting wort, as you know from the earlier process, contains active yeast that will restart a new fermentation process in the finished beer which means that carbon dioxide will be incorporated into the new beer, creating a higher level of carbonation in the new beer.

The other process is called Lagering because you’re creating a type of beer called a lager which is fermented and conditioned at low temperatures.  Lagering is usually applied to lagers or the bottom-fermenting beers because some of the compounds present in the beer are removed or dissolved at near freezing temperatures if kept contained for 1-6 months.  Ideally, lagering is best completed in a separate tank in a completely cooled cellar.  However, there are now modern tanks that have their own cooling jackets which can replicate the cooling environment of a cooled cellar so this kind of setup is also possible.

The conditioning process can overlap with the beer filtering process simply because it is within these same vessels that you can incorporate additional flavors.  For instance, the flavor from the hops that you initially added during the boiling process can evaporate during the fermentation process as the yeast reacts with the hops.  To ensure that the flavor is retained, it is added once more during the conditioning process and let it be absorbed by the finished beer.

Nov 23, 2012 |

One thought on “The Beer Brewing Process – Step 5 : Conditioning

  1. Craig says:

    Great to have easy access to very useful information. Picked up a lot of useful tips on brewing and beer styles.

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