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When bottle conditioning, it seems (though I haven't done anything scientific enough to know for sure) that I get varying amounts of carbonation depending on how long I refrigerate the beer before drinking. At first I assume it was just inconsistency with priming but after researching force-carbonation recently I'm beginning to think it may be related to the equilibrium of temperature and carbonation.

I'm thinking that many of the cases where I'm getting less carbonation are within 24 hours or so of refrigerating while those that are refrigerated longer seem to be better carbonated. Is there possibly something to this? How long should bottles generally be chilled before serving to ensure that the CO2 in the bottle is in equilibrium?

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While c02 does absorb easier at colder temperatures, I doubt you would get inconsistency if they are fully conditioned and chilled completely. The extra chill time could be it just finishing conditioning, as many yeast will still be active at fridge temps.

Possible causes could be conditioning wasn't complete or different amounts of yeast or fermentables in bottles.

You could test by opening two bottles of the same age but different chill durations.

  • I'm actually in the process of doing that exact test now (tried first beer after about 3-4 hours and will be trying the other after 30). The first bottle was decently well carbonated but with larger bubbles than normal. I'll be interested to see if there's a noticeable different in the other one. They're also only a week into conditioning too so it'll be especially interesting to do the same thing next weekend. – thesquaregroot May 1 '16 at 20:31
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    After trying one the next day it seems they were about even. Between this and the accepted answer to the question @FranklinPCombs posted, it seems that as long as they're cold any difference in carbonation isn't really going to matter. Thanks! – thesquaregroot May 2 '16 at 13:02

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