Take the 2-minute tour ×
Homebrewing Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for dedicated home brewers and serious enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Every beer I've brewed and have seen done by others has had a sediment form at the bottom of the bottles.

Is there some common mistake that I and others are making which is causing this to happen?

Does the sediment become solid at the bottom after some months, as to not be disturbed by pouring the entire contents when drinking?

share|improve this question
    
using kegs rather than bottles avoids sediment until the last glass. –  mdma Mar 30 '12 at 11:31
add comment

5 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

This is not really a mistake but just a byproduct of the process of bottle conditioning which most homebrewers go through. The sediment is dead yeast cells and proteins that are in suspension in beer but drop out over time. You can reduce the amount of sediment by racking but unless you filter it out somehow you'll never get rid of it all.

The sediment will solidify over time but if you chill a bit before pouring and pour the beer out in one go (so maybe have two glasses ready) then you shouldn't disturb and will get a sediment free beer. If you mix in the sediment it will do you no harm but will affect the flavour of the beer.

share|improve this answer
2  
Not necessarily dead, just flocculated. –  bk0 Mar 30 '12 at 12:20
2  
if you filter, you'll presumably filter out the yeast, the primary cause of sediment, and then you'll have no yeast to bottle carbonate, leaving force carbonation, or kegging, the remaining option. –  mdma Mar 31 '12 at 1:53
add comment

In the 80s UK, Boots, the chemists, who already sold home brew kits, developed a yeast that settled at the bottom of bottles as a gel. Unlike the sediment you're used to, that is disturbed when you tip the bottle, this just sat there. Friends, who used to avoid my home brew, said things like, Wow this tastes like real beer. it was clear and sparkling. For some reason they dropped out of the home brew market and I've not been able to find anything like their gel yeast. Instead, I have developed a technique to minimise sediment. It's a long game - it involves long periods of settlement and secondary fermentation. Basically, after the bucket stage, I decant the 40 pints to a pressure barrel for 3 weeks, I then decant off from that, 8 pints into a demijohn and let that settle for up to 3 months. Finings can be added, although this can take a while to clear. Finally, I bottle the beer and leave for another 3 months minimum. At no point is sugar added. I use only malt or malt extract and hops. No initial brew sugar, no bottle priming. The beer has enough harder to ferment carbohydrates to make a good beer given time. That's it. Obviously it's a long wait for a pint but once you get into a routine, you end up with a steady supply. Just need more storage vessels and space. Cleanliness is paramount of course.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I use Irish Moss in the boil and then Gelatin toward the end of the secondary. You also need to be very careful not to disturbe the fermentor before bottling time. Place the fermentor in a place where you can get a siphon going (on a table or counter) at least 5 days before bottling time (7 or more is even better). When you put the racking cane into the fermentor, do it slowly and take care not to disturb the sediment on the bottom. Use a racking cane clamp or plug or something to keep the cane from moving during siphoning. Racking into a bottling bucket will stop any chance of accidental disturbance of the sediment. Then bottle your beer as usual from the bottling bucket. You won't be able to completely eliminate it, just take steps to reduce the overall amount.

I really like the idea of the clarifying tank using a keg (by brewchez). I think the only danger would be in racking it an extra time. You'd have to be really careful to avoid oxidization and have good sanitization techniques.

share|improve this answer
add comment

There is a technique to not leave sediment in the bottle. However, it involves the use of a keg. I have one keg that I use as a clarifying tank. The dip tube has been trimmed up a few inches off the bottom. I rack my beer over to the keg and chill. Next day I add dissolved gelatin mixture (1/2 envelope to one cup warm water) to the keg let let it sit at cold temp for 4 days. Transfer the beer to a new clean keg and the gelatin fining step has pulled all the sediment out, including much of the yeast. In the new keg, I force carbonate and then bottle of the keg when ready.

I only do this when I want to create sediment free bottles. Most of the time I don't bother with the gelatin fining unless I am looking for something to do. Even then I still serve off the keg.

Other than that sediment is a natural part of homebrewing. Many of the best commercial breweries have yeast sediment in there bottles. In fact in the homebrew environment bottle conditioning with yeast likely leads to more stable product due to oxygen absorption.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Yes. Force carbonation. Also various clarification procedures (Irish Moss, filtration) to get rid of any remaining protein in the finished beer.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.