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I've recently been reading the labels a bit more on one of my favourite beers and have discovered that the brewers bottle condition their Pale Ale. Yet it's sold with no signs of any flocculated yeast in the purchased product.

How is this possible? Is some sacrifice made to prevent the sediment? Can I do this at home?

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Is the beer clear when you pour it? And I mean brilliantly clear. –  brewchez Jun 1 '11 at 17:32

6 Answers 6

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Someone told me about these sediment catchers.


I've not used them before, but it seems like the basic idea is that you bottle-condition with the bottles upside-down. The sediment ends up in the bottom part of the two-piece cap. When you remove the bottom part, it seals the top part so your beer remains carbonated, but you've removed the sediment.

Here's a video of someone showing how it works.


Maybe that's what you're looking for.

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I believe Little Creatures filter and re-inoculate with a lager strain - keeping the total yeast count very low will help in minimising the sediment. I'm not sure how easy it would be to do at home - assuming you can filter, you'd need to accurately measure an exact quantity of very healthy yeast. You'd probably need to use trial and error and be prepared for poorly carbonated beer.

The other option is using methode champenoise - I've heard of this being done with beer (eg Deus), but I imagine it would be extremely challenging to do at home.

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I don't see any way to bottle condition without having some sediment in the bottle. The sediment is the flocculated yeast that consumed the priming sugar to create the carbonation. Without viable yeast in the bottle there is no way to produce the carbonation.

The definition of bottle conditioning used by your favorite brewery may be slightly different than the traditional way homebrewers bottle condition. They may be carbonating the beer through priming and then bottling afterwards.

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If you consider bottle conditioning to be using yeast to generate the co2 to carbonate the beer instead of force carbonating with an external co2 source, then you could keg condition your homebrew and transfer that to bottles once it's carbonated.

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You'd need to do this with a counter pressure bottler though, something like -> blichmannengineering.com/beergun/beergun.html –  fatboab Jun 2 '11 at 9:48
Technically, the beer gun is not a counter pressure filler. It is a product with great reviews, however. –  Dustin Rasener Jun 2 '11 at 22:04

Yes, bottling without a lot of sediment is possible. The commercial breweries filter and then repitch a known amount of yeast. While this does leave sediment on the bottom it is usually a very small amount - a light dusting. To do this on the homebrew scale without filtering you would cold-condition your beer for a few weeks after fermentation is complete, allowing all the yeast to drop out. Then you re-pitch about 1/10 of a pack of dried yeast or 1/5 of a vial of liquid yeast, along with your priming sugar.

Remember that after fermentation is complete, even as the beer starts to clear, you still have 20-40 times as much yeast as the commercial brewers use to bottle condition thier beer. That is why homebrewers who bottle immediately after fermentation ceases get a large amount of sediment in the bottom.

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There are some brewers in the UK who tank condition their beer. Once they have the correct level of carbonation, they put it through a centrifuge to remove the yeast, but retain the carbonation and put in a bottle. If you level the bottle for long enough it will throw a sediment as there is still some very, very small yeast particles in suspension, as the centrifuge only removes them down to a certain size.

By using a centrifuge, rather than filtering, you don't need to repitch and you don't loose the carbonation you're already gained from the tanks. You can't call it bottle conditioned though, as it's not.

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