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Tag: conditioning

Dry Hop or Dry Hopping

Dry hop, dry hopping, or dry hopped beer is beer that has had hops added to it during fermentation as a way of increasing hop aroma. Dry hopping is typically conducted in secondary fermentation or after primary fermentation has completed to help assure that the aroma stays in the fermenter as opposed to being pushed through the airlock with the escaping CO2.

When dry hopping, little to no bitterness is added to the fermenting beer, as the alpha acid resin is relatively insoluble in a fermenting beer at that temperature. The process of dry hopping typically lasts anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. Some brewers report that their beer acquires a grassy flavor if it is allowed to dry hop for more than a week or so. If grassy off flavors are a concern, you can always add additional hops for a shorter duration of time to achieve the desired dry hop aroma.


Dry hopping in a secondary fermentation keg. Whole hops are used in this case, but pellet or plug hops may also be used.

Dry Hop, Dry Hopping, Dry Hopped Beer in a secondary fermenter.

Dry hop, dry hopping, dry hopped beer in a secondary fermenter.

Chill Haze

Chill haze is the cloudy or hazy appearance that a chilled beer gets when it is too high in residual proteins or tannins. For the most part, haze and turbidity are highly undesirable unless you are brewing a beer such as an American wheat, hefeweizen, or Belgian wit, where the style calls for a certain amount of haze. It is easier to try and avoid chill haze as opposed to trying to remove it from a beer.


Best practices for avoiding chill haze include properly controlling your mash out, sparging, lautering, and recirculation temperatures. Tannin extraction becomes a real issue when you exceed a temperature of 170° F in your mash tun, so always do your best to keep your sparge temp near 168° F for proper sugar extraction, but do not exceed it or else you will risk stripping too much tannin from the grain.


A consistent rolling boil and hot break are also important when it comes to reducing excess proteins. During the boil and hot break, proteins will merge together, becoming very dense and dropping out to the bottom of the kettle where they can be separated and not transferred to the fermenter. Perhaps one of the best and easiest ways to help avoid chill haze is to use an inexpensive fining such as whirlfloc. Whirlfloc is my personal favorite haze clearing fining; it is a blend of Irish moss and purified carrageenan. The Irish moss and carrageenan bind with the proteins and aid in precipitation. I will typically use one tablet per 5 to 15 gallons and add it at the last 15 minutes of the boil.


If you find yourself in the situation where when chilled your beer has haze and you have not yet bottled it, you can try one of the following methods to help clear chill haze. Extend your conditioning time and cold crash your beer to 34° F for a couple of weeks. This will aid in precipitation and help move suspended yeast and protein to the bottom of the vessel so that you can rack or transfer the clarified beer off the top of it. As a last ditch effort, you can use a beer clarifier such as gelatin. The gelatin should bind to the excess proteins, and drop some of the haze out of your beer.



Beer conditioning typically occurs after primary fermentation has completed, and the beer has been racked off the yeast and trub bed to a different vessel such as a secondary fermenter, barrel, keg, holding tank, cask, or bottle. The beer then conditions over time; the length of time typically depends on the style of beer, and the type of conditioning that is desired.


If you are brewing an American wheat or perhaps a dry hopped pale ale, where a very fresh taste or aroma may be desired, then you would want a minimal conditioning time. But if you are brewing a barrel aged stout or a Flanders red sour, you may need to allow the beer to condition for over a year depending on the conditioning environment and desired flavors.

Cask Conditioning

Cask conditioned beer refers to unfiltered and unpasteurized beer that has been conditioned in and served from a cask. This method will impart a distinctive flavor. Cask conditioned beer is naturally fermented and is typically served from the cask using a beer engine or hand-powered style pump as opposed to pushed using a CO2 tank. Cask beers tend to be served with lower levels of dissolved CO2 than one might find in a typical kegged beer. The shelf life of a casked beer is also much shorter, and the potential for oxidization is much higher since the cask walls are air permeable.


Carbonation or carbonating is the process of dissolving carbon dioxide in beer. There are different methods of carbonating beer, but the end effect is basically the same from a CO2 standpoint. Carbon dioxide is built up under pressure, which carbonates the beer; when the pressure is reduced, the carbon dioxide is released as bubbles into the beer. Carbonation helps form the head of the beer and makes the beer effervescent. Carbonation has a significant impact on many aspects of a beer, from the body and mouthfeel to the aroma delivery and appearance.


Some of the different methods of carbonating beer include:


Krausening, which is the process of adding a small amount of young fermenting beer (about 10-20%) to a finished beer in order to carbonate it. You then seal the beer to allow the pressure to build and carbonate the beer. Krausening is typically a little less predictable then other forms of carbonation since it is more difficult to control the exact amount of carbonation that will occur. One of the benefits is that there is typically minimal impact to the flavor profile of the beer.


Force carbonating a beer is done by placing (preferably chilled) beer into a sealed vessel that is connected to a pressurize CO2 tank. You pressurize the sealed vessel via the CO2 tank, and the CO2 is rapidly absorbed into the beer. The benefits of forced carbonation are that it is quick, and, since you are not fermenting in the bottle to build the CO2, the beer is typically cleaner with far less bottle sediment and fewer flavors imparted by the yeast, if that is desired.


Another method is by starting to carbonate your beer towards the tail end of your fermentation. To do this, you can remove your air lock and seal the fermenter; this will pressurize it and allow it to carbonate naturally.


Lastly, you can bottle condition and carbonate your beer by priming it at the time of bottling with a specific amount of sugar. You should use approximately .5 teaspoons (½ tsp) of priming sugar per 12oz bottle. Typically you will want to prime your beer with corn sugar (dextrose). It is critical that your beer has completed its fermentation prior to priming and bottling, as residual fermentable sugars from the primary fermentation can create excessive pressure in the bottles and cause them to explode. It is also critical that the yeast is still viable, so that the priming sugar is converted to CO2 in the bottle, and you do not end up with a flat\sweet beer.

Bottle Conditioning

Bottle conditioning refers to the process by which the beer is naturally carbonated in the bottle as a result of fermentation as opposed to being carbonated prior to filling. Oftentimes additional sugar or krausen is added to the beer prior to bottling or directly to the bottle so that the yeast will have enough sugar available to properly carbonate the beer.


A suitable fermentation temperature must be maintained for the conditioning beer to allow the yeast to adequately carbonate the beer. Since viable yeast is present in a bottle-conditioned beer, this provides an additional component of flavor that develops further as the beer ages. A slight layer of yeast on the bottom of a bottle of beer may be a sign that the beer had been bottled conditioned, but may also be due to poor filling or residual clarification of a non-filtered beer. The bottle and cap should always be sanitized before bottling occurs.