Bottle Priming / Conditioning
To carbonate your beer, a small amount of sugar was added to the finished beer before putting it in the bottle. This is called bottle priming.
The remaining yeast will consume the sugar, producing CO2. The CO2 will be trapped in the bottle and thus carbonate the beer.
About your new beer:
The beer must be kept at a temperature favourable to the yeast until carbonated.
Ale yeasts tend to work best around 17ºC, up to 21ºC or so. Store your beer somewhere in this range until it’s carbonated (7-10 days). Lower temperatures will cause the fermentation (thus carbonation) to be slow or, if it’s too low, it will not carbonate at all. Temperatures that are too high can stress the yeast and create funky off-flavours.
Of course, before drinking it however, you can chill it in the fridge.
Store the bottles upright.
Beer should always be stored upright. Firstly, because putting the bottles on their side will create too much surface area and expose the beer to more oxygen, possibly causing the beer to oxidize. In addition, storing the beer upright allows proteins and yeast (which will be multiplying while carbonating) to settle on the bottom of the bottle.
The beer should be carbonated in 7-10 days.
The quantity of sugar in your beer is relatively low. It should ferment out in somewhere around a week to 10 days and your beer will be carbonated.
However, If you have it too soon, it might be a bit sweet and under carbonated. If that’s the case, leave it for longer.
It will continue to condition in the bottle.
Although the beer may be carbonated after 7-10 days, it will continue to condition. It will become more mellow and muted, as well as clearer as the proteins and yeast drops out. Off-flavours from things like fusel alcohols or diacetyl will sometimes clear up in the bottle.
Ultimately, the beer will change. It is alive and still undergoing processes for a while. The optimal time to leave it before drinking it is up to you. The same things goes for how long it will last. Home brew will typically last longer than commercial beer, due to yeast still being present, which acts in a way like a preservative. However, beer is meant to be drunk fresh, so we wouldn’t recommend storing it for ages.
Higher gravity beers usually hit their prime with a longer conditioning period than lower ones
Decant your beer into a glass.
The sediment on the bottom of your bottle is yeast and proteins. Both of these are very healthy for you. Beer yeast is one of the best natural sources of vitamin B, for example. However, it can impart a bitter flavour and so with bottle conditioned beers it is recommended that you decant the beer into a glass, leaving the sediment behind.
You should always drink beer from a glass anyway. It allows you to smell the aromas of the hops and the malts and get a fuller flavour. However, if you are somewhere without a glass, consuming the sediment is not harmful in any way.
It is highly recommended that you rinse the sediment from the bottle immediately if you plan to brew and use them again. If you leave it, it will go mouldy and dry, making it very hard to clean out of the botte later.
This can also be said for commercial beers – rinse the bottles to put your own beer in them later!
Enjoy your beer!
We hope to see you again soon!