Marston’s have recently started bottle conditioning Pedigree. This is a method where the sediment of living yeast is still present in the bottle and allows secondary fermentation to take place – basically it means that your beer is A-LIVE!!! It’s great, because this allows the beer to mature with age and also adds a tad more alcohol.
This is actually a pretty traditional method that started to decrease rapidly towards the end of the 19th century, when brewers began to filter and pasteurise their beer to speed up the bottling process. Drinking habits however, did start to change in the late 20th century when microbreweries started to pop up all over the UK. We started taking notice of what we were drinking as opposed to drinking the highest quantity at the cheapest price. With craft beer on the rise, and the “more sophisticated” beer drinker coming into play, breweries started to bring this method of natural carbonation back, as it can create a more lively brew with plenty of depth, flavour and complexity; and to be fair, it is the closest thing to cask taste-wise.
Why you need to leave your brew to settle…
With all bottle conditioned beer there is sediment down at the bottom of the bottle. This is something that you may not want to disturb too much as it can make a really cloudy brew and even kill the yeast which is still working to mature and preserve the flavour. We would avoid putting it on the back of a push bike then racing down a cobbled street but with any journey, the sediment is likely to be slightly disturbed, so once you have brought your ale back from the supermarket, bottle shop, or perhaps after it arrives on your doorstep, don’t crack it open straight away, leave it to settle.
Storing your beer is another important factor…
DO NOT STORE THE BREW ON ITS SIDE!!! If you do this, it will make the yeast unsettled when you come to pour it. Store it upright (cap up), in a cool, dark place as warm temperatures can ruin your beer and direct sunlight or artificial lighting can react with the yeast, creating a ‘skunky’ aroma and taste. You don’t need to go crazy though, like hiding it under your coat as you leave the shop, as Pedigree is in brown glass, which tends to block light a lot more than green/ clear bottles. 🙂 There has also been quite a hefty debate on how long you can store a beer and leave it to mature – some beers you can leave to mature for years, however lower abv brews, such as Pedigree (which is 4.5%), should really be drunk within the first six months of purchasing.
How to pour…
When pouring a bottle conditioned beer, you have to be careful not to disturb the sediment. Tilt the glass at about 45 degrees and pour slowly and smoothly. When two-thirds of the brew is poured, gradually steepen the glass for the final third but avoid pouring that last bit of beer from the bottle where the yeast has settled. You can (skilfully) attempt to catch the sediment at the base of the bottle neck as you are pouring. This is a competition that we regularly have down at the Yeti Cave to see who’s got the tekkers, but unfortunately it does usually end in an EPIC FAIL! The good thing that we found while pouring Pedigree is that the sediment is not too loose and woolly, so it is quite easy to pour without getting bits in your glass.
Do not fear the yeast!
So what happens if you accidentally pour the yeast in and your brew becomes a little cloudy? The answer is NOTHING! Ironically, the vitamins may actually do you some good! Some styles of beer you are actually advised to swirl the yeast and pour the whole thing in, although this is not the case with Pedigree, but our generally message is that IT WON’T KILL YOU!
So there you have it, our brief sum up of bottle conditioning – why not go out and grab yourself a bottle of a-live Pedigree to see what you think!