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to what extent is beer carbonated in the secondary tank

perfection

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Industrially, assuming the beer is moved to secondary tanks for its conditioning after the initial fermentation, to what extent is it carbonated in these tanks?  (i am not looking at deliberate efforts  like krausening and priming)? 

What about ales which have a much shorter maturation time  do they get (naturally) carbonated at all in a secondary or is it only the carb stone for them?

(disregard bottle conditioned beers)

Thanks
 

brewfun

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There isn't a hard and fast rule about carbonation or time for maturation. Going with your "assuming it's used" postulate, the secondary tank could serve several purposes. What really matters is the process between the two tanks that will decide whether or not it has any meaningful carbonation. A very common process is to centrifuge the beer on the way to the next tank. However, the "secondary," or lagering tanks, are also typically used to blend batches for consistency. So, the beer will not be highly carbonated, perhaps at around 1.5 volumes, which is enough to allow CO2 to escape during the transfer and be part of reducing oxidation risk. An American and German practice is to capture the CO2 from fermentation and reintroduce it during maturation.

With many European Pilsner companies, the beer is fermented under pressure or capped during the last stages of fermentation and transferred with an abundance of carbonation. The beer is allowed to lager to full clarity, but ages for longer periods than most western mass lagers. I'm told on good authority that Pilsner Urquell lagers for as long as 6 months. The result is a fully mature and carbonated beer, ready for unfiltered packaging but they do pasteurize for export. The same is apparently true for Guinness, with a shorter timeframe.
 

brewdown

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brewfun said:
There isn't a hard and fast rule about carbonation or time for maturation. Going with your "assuming it's used" postulate, the secondary tank could serve several purposes. What really matters is the process between the two tanks that will decide whether or not it has any meaningful carbonation. A very common process is to centrifuge the beer on the way to the next tank. However, the "secondary," or lagering tanks, are also typically used to blend batches for consistency. So, the beer will not be highly carbonated, perhaps at around 1.5 volumes, which is enough to allow CO2 to escape during the transfer and be part of reducing oxidation risk. An American and German practice is to capture the CO2 from fermentation and reintroduce it during maturation.

With many European Pilsner companies, the beer is fermented under pressure or capped during the last stages of fermentation and transferred with an abundance of carbonation. The beer is allowed to lager to full clarity, but ages for longer periods than most western mass lagers. I'm told on good authority that Pilsner Urquell lagers for as long as 6 months. The result is a fully mature and carbonated beer, ready for unfiltered packaging but they do pasteurize for export. The same is apparently true for Guinness, with a shorter timeframe.

Great explanation here, thanks for elaborating.  This gives me a new found respect for Pilsner Urquell.  It's these small steps that ensure quality that most large breweries try to skip on, so it's nice to find ones that don't cut every corner.
 
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