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I've got a batch of beer which was bottled last Saturday and a friend insisted I should shake them to assist in the conditioning. He couldn't offer any particular reason, so I was curious if/when it should be done.

If it matters, these bottles were batch-primed (I thought he may be thinking of ensuring all sugar is dissolved if it's bottle-primed).

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7 Answers 7

up vote 13 down vote accepted

I wouldn't bother, but if you do, don't shake them hard, because it will denature some of the foam-producing proteins, and has a chance of reducing head retention.

Be lazy and let it do its thing.

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I does help to shake the bottles when conditioning because it will help the yeast process the sugar faster and produce pressure in the head space that will eventually be the carbonation in your beer. You should only have to do this the first few days of conditioning.

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2  
I'm not sure that shaking actually has any effect on carbonation time... –  Brandon Dec 17 '10 at 0:45
    
The shaking keeps the yeast in suspension and can wake dormant yeast to process the priming sugar. It is the same effect that a stir plate has on a yeast starter. –  Northern Brewer Chris Dec 17 '10 at 15:01
    
do you think this would make a noticable difference? Would it be flavor, head/body? I might experiment with a subset of the brown ale I'm bottling this weekend. –  STW Dec 17 '10 at 15:07
    
except a stir plate on a starter is also causing more exposure to oxygen as well as keeping the yeast from settling. –  baka Dec 17 '10 at 18:45
    
Wanted to reask my above question (in the comments) -- this will mainly help speed conditioning, but would it produce a noticeable difference in the beer itself? –  STW Jan 21 '11 at 0:19

In general there is no reason to do this as it just prolongs the settling out of all the yeast. If you had good yeast health going into the bottling phase all should be fine.

I don't like to intervene with the process any more than necessary, unless something out of the ordinary occurs.

If your bottles don't carb up, or they seem inconsistantly carbonated, or you over chill the bottle due to poor storage prior to carbing; these are times when I'll try to rouse the yeast. But even then I wouldn't shake them. Upside down with gently swirling would be the best way.

A saftey note regarding glass and carbed bottles: You really have no idea if a glass bottle is carbed up until you open it. Its very conceivable that if you have some bottles that are flat and some that are carbed due to poor sugar distribution you might have some very highly carbed bottles sitting there along side flat ones. Starting to shake them because one suspects the yeast is just not doing its job may lead to a burst bottle. If a beer is overcarbed, and you agitate it, and rouse up all that wonderful nucleating yeast sediment in the bottle you could be create an explosive glass hand grenade. So use a towel and cover each bottle if you suspect that type of danger.

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One reason to try and keep the yeast in suspension is that a better contact between yeast and beer helps the yeast to decrease diacetyl. Depending on whether you have had a proper secondary fermentation before bottling, this could be important. I agree however with the security-concerns already mentioned further up.

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i agree with ur freind i always shake my bottles first when im pouring for secondery fermentation "becarful to make sure the first fementation is complete" or ul cause the bottle to explode because its relesing to much co2 ..it helps make a good head when pouring and helps the yeast to become active again especially if ur using carbanation drops that dont dissolve straight away

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I dont "shake" my bottles while theyre conditioning. After adding my priming sugar and filling my bottles I give them a few good turn overs, which in effect could be considered a light shaking, mostly to help disperse my priming sugars throughout the bottle. After that I put them away until its time to drink.

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I prefer to add sugar to the fermeter (after fermentation is completed and I'm ready for bottleing) instead to adding it to each individual bottle. I guess this way there's no need to shake the bottles...

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