Bottle Conditioning ESB

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Skydiver

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Would be grateful for opinions in respect to priming/bottle conditioning English Ale (in this case a Fullers ESB Clone).

Brewing stats as follows:
  • OG 1.059
  • FG 1.015
  • EBC 18.0
  • IBU 35.0
  • ABV 5.7%
  • Batch size 19 litres
  • Target CO2 volumes 1.75
  • Beer Temperature on Bottling 17c
I haven't had any significant problems with priming/bottle conditioning to-date, the method I'm using is as follows:
  • Boil about 400ml of water and add 90g of DME
  • Stir until fully dissolved and roiling boil for 30 seconds
  • Cover and cool to 17c
  • Add the dissolved DME to a bottling bucket, then siphon the 19 litre batch into the bottling bucket to mix
  • Gently mix, then bottle
  • Storage temperature after bottling is 17c
The results have been quite good, I'm using good quality bottles with a Grolsch type top. After just a couple of weeks, carbonation levels are good, the head is comprised of very tiny bubbles with even a slight amber hue, which is reminiscent of what I see when I pour a bottle of Fullers ESB. Mouthfeel is good, but I am wondering if using DME for priming, is adding additional malt flavour to the beer.

I'd be interested to know what kind of experiences/results you guys have had using other priming options, such as Dextrose (Corn Sugar), or plain Table Sugar (using a similar mixing methodology), and whether these options are appropriate for bottle conditioning an ale of this type. Thanks in advance for taking the time to reply.
 
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moto748

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My personal view (and some posters may differ with me on this) is that I never bother with that "2.4 volumes of CO2" mallarkey with priming; I prefer to think in terms of 'x grams of sugar per bottle'. Which I can, and have, established for different beer styles by trial and error.

So in the case of your beer above, a 19 litre batch size is going to be, what, 33, 34 bottles? Then I would be aiming for about 66 g of sugar total, giving abut 2 g/bottle. I don't think you gain anything by priming with DME. But others more expert than me can comment further, I'm sure.
 

Skydiver

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My personal view (and some posters may differ with me on this) is that I never bother with that "2.4 volumes of CO2" mallarkey with priming; I prefer to think in terms of 'x grams of sugar per bottle'. Which I can, and have, established for different beer styles by trial and error.

So in the case of your beer above, a 19 litre batch size is going to be, what, 33, 34 bottles? Then I would be aiming for about 66 g of sugar total, giving abut 2 g/bottle. I don't think you gain anything by priming with DME. But others more expert than me can comment further, I'm sure.
Thanks for responding. So to clarify, you are talking about using regular, white, processed sugar as opposed to Dextrose?

The main reason for me posing this question was to see if I could get some feedback from guys who brew English Ales of this type and the qualitative differences they may have experienced (taste, type of head, mouthfeel etc.) when using Dextrose or regular sugar, over DME.
 
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An Ankoù

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My personal view (and some posters may differ with me on this) is that I never bother with that "2.4 volumes of CO2" mallarkey with priming; I prefer to think in terms of 'x grams of sugar per bottle'. Which I can, and have, established for different beer styles by trial and error.

So in the case of your beer above, a 19 litre batch size is going to be, what, 33, 34 bottles? Then I would be aiming for about 66 g of sugar total, giving abut 2 g/bottle. I don't think you gain anything by priming with DME. But others more expert than me can comment further, I'm sure.
I'm with @moto748 on this one. I'd tend to add a fraction more sugar, but then I'd be wary of bottling anything with an
FG of 1015.
 

Agentgonzo

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I prime with table sugar. For English ales, I go with 1/2tsp per 500ml bottle. Accuracy isn't that important IMO so if I have a 440ml bottle, I use slightly less than a half teaspoon.

I used to condition with residual sugar from the primary (IE, bottle it when it has _almost_ fermented out). There is absolutely no flavour difference (that I can tell) conditioning with either method.

If I want a fizzier beer (saison, weisse etc) then I use a whole teaspoon per 500ml. There are too many other variables (residual sugar etc) to get any benefit from more accurately measuring priming sugar in my opinion
 

Skydiver

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I'm with @moto748 on this one. I'd tend to add a fraction more sugar, but then I'd be wary of bottling anything with an
FG of 1015.
At the risk of sounding ignorant, why would you be wary of bottling anything with a FG of 1.015? I have seen a lot of recipes with target FG's higher than this, which are then bottle conditioned. Appreciate your opinion and perspective on this, still on a rather steep learning curve.
 

Skydiver

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I prime with table sugar. For English ales, I go with 1/2tsp per 500ml bottle. Accuracy isn't that important IMO so if I have a 440ml bottle, I use slightly less than a half teaspoon.

I used to condition with residual sugar from the primary (IE, bottle it when it has _almost_ fermented out). There is absolutely no flavour difference (that I can tell) conditioning with either method.

If I want a fizzier beer (saison, weisse etc) then I use a whole teaspoon per 500ml. There are too many other variables (residual sugar etc) to get any benefit from more accurately measuring priming sugar in my opinion
Very much appreciate your response and I agree that untold variables make priming to reach an accurate CO2 volumes target, difficult to achieve.

You touched on another question which I've been noodling on for a while. I listened to a podcast interview of John Keeling which dates back to 2010, I think the podcast was called 'Can You Brew It'. John talks about the parti-gyle brewing method used by Fullers. He then goes on to state (and I'm paraphrasing here, forgive me if this isn't 100% accurate), that for ESB, they pitch the yeast at 17c, let's it rise to 20c, then they chill it back to 6c when a 1/4 gravity remains... unfortunately he doesn't expand on these comments, but I really wish he had.

I know that for the example he cites, he's brewing for cask and not bottle conditioning, but I've always wondered if he was doing something similar to what you suggest in your email. Chilling to 6c would certainly help clarify the beer but (I imagine) it would also put a total crimp in the final 1/4 gravity of fermentation. It seems reasonable that once chilled to clear most of the suspended proteins from the batch, enough residual yeast would remain for fermentation to begin again once the temperature is allowed to rise to 20c.

I was actually thinking of giving this method a go with my current batch, but decided to throw out a question about other priming options for bottle conditioning. Very glad you touched on this though, as it was going to be a question for a follow-up thread.
 
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Just been kegging a batch of ESB this morning :-)

tempImageRR2sw4.jpg

Funnily enough the 'natural' level of carb straight from the FV pretty much matches the way it's served at the Holly Bush about 20mins walk up the lanes from here.
I'm so lucky to have that place: Ray (retired now but still looks after the cellar) was awarded Fuller's Cellarman of the Year for 5 years on the trot and tells me that the chairman drops in for a pint of Pride now and then.
Anyhow, I tend not to pressurise my ESB more than about 5psi. Ideally I'd serve with a hand pump and a keg breather...
 

Skydiver

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Just been kegging a batch of ESB this morning :-)

View attachment 64745
Funnily enough the 'natural' level of carb straight from the FV pretty much matches the way it's served at the Holly Bush about 20mins walk up the lanes from here.
I'm so lucky to have that place: Ray (retired now but still looks after the cellar) was awarded Fuller's Cellarman of the Year for 5 years on the trot and tells me that the chairman drops in for a pint of Pride now and then.
Anyhow, I tend not to pressurise my ESB more than about 5psi. Ideally I'd serve with a hand pump and a keg breather...
Looking good...

I haven't been back to Blighty since 2011, how much is a pint of ESB these days...? *wincing in anticipation of the answer...
 
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Skydiver

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I followed the Fullers link and started browsing through pubs...

I don't know how many of you guys have spent much time overseas, for me it's been 25 of the last 30 years, but damn, do I miss a good English pub; nothing quite like it, anywhere else in the world.
 
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Couldn't agree with you more - a good country pub is a wonderful thing; and there are some great watering holes in central London too - I organised a charity walk down the Thames path a couple of years ago, and the density of pubs as you come through the Isle of Dogs is amazing.
 

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