There was a time when all beer was either cask or bottle conditioned. Pressure capable tanks, CO2 draft systems and kegs, counter pressure bottle fillers and other technology have evolved over the last century to eliminate the necessity of re-fermentation in casks and bottles as a way to carbonate beer. Tradition and our sensory organs, however, lead us back to the beauty of bottle conditioning.
At Atwood Ales, we bottle condition all of our beers, with only a very small percentage of our beers finding their way into kegs. We find that for the styles of beer we enjoy brewing for you, the mouthfeel, the aroma and the flavor are all enhanced by an extended re-fermentation and conditioning period in the bottle. The process also allows us to more readily select appropriate carbonation levels for each style or individual beer we brew, giving our British influenced beers a more traditional, lower level of carbonation, and our farmhouse influenced beers a higher, almost champagne like level of carbonation.
In addition, we like the presentation format — artwork adorning the elegant shape of a 750ml bottle, the act of opening and pouring the beer into a glass — it all adds to the ritual experience and enjoyment every time we drink a beer. Is it nerdy? Maybe. Is it important to the quality of our beers? Absolutely.
Since there is yeast present in the bottle from the conditioning process, the best way to enjoy our beers is to decant them into two glasses in a continuous pour, without turning the bottle upright. You’ll want to leave the last ounce or so in the bottle as well, which is where the yeast sediment will be. The yeast won’t hurt you, it just changes the flavor of the beer. Go ahead and drink it if you’d like — it’s full of B vitamins! Our preference, though, is for the clarity of flavor and appearance that comes from a clean pour with no yeast.