Thursday, January 9, 2014

Final Round: Flip Top vs. Bottle Cap

This is the third and final installment of Flip Top vs Bottle Cap. If you recall from my previous postings (first and second) my hypothesis is that they flip top bottle would let in more oxygen and thus increase the oxidation rate due in part to the rubber gasket drying out over time. I figured the cap would not have this issue. 

Each beer was from the same batch and was bottled at the same time using a bottling bucket and a bottling wand. Any oxidation that occurred during bottling and racking would have affected each beer equally. They have been stored next to each other in a box for over two years. I figured at this point in time the oxidation differences would be noticeable and I would be able to make a definitive judgment on which bottle is better for long term storage. The beers used were a Dunkelweizen, which is not the best beer for long term storage, but it’s the only beer I had available that was bottled in both types of bottles. 

In order to get a good idea of head retention I opened each bottle one right after the other and poured them each down the middle of the glass and waited 30 seconds before I took a picture. As you can see one beer had significantly better head retention then the other, but it was not the beer I thought would have better head retention.  Looking back at my notes I recall that the flip top bottle had the same kind of head retention. 

One of the issues with this experiment is that I don’t know the exact process that was used to bottle the beer. The bottling was performed by my father so I have no idea how he added the sugar, how the bottling was preformed, or how long the beers were exposed to air prior to capping. I will assume he mostly followed the process that I tough him. 

  1. Sugar was boiled and cooled then added to the bottling bucket slowly to avoid splashing while the beer was being racked from the carboy to the bottling bucket to evenly spread the priming sugar.
    1. It’s possible this was not the case. Normally I try to create a small whirlpool to spread the sugar evenly. There is no splashing so it shouldn’t be aerating the beer too much. Now I would just create a bed of CO2. I’m assuming he added the sugar after it was racked, which might explain what I would call uneven carbonation and bottle variation.
  2. Each bottle was filled and a cap was placed on top and left to allow the CO2 to push the air out of the head space. The flip top bottles were not locked until later as well for the same reason.
    1. Again it’s possible that my Dad capped them right after filling. I’m not exactly sure what his process is for bottling.
Regardless I feel the experiment is a pretty good evaluation of the oxidation of long term storage of flip top bottles and bottle caps.

Flip top

Appearance: The beer pours a large off white head that slowly fades to a centimeter thick lacing over the top of the beer. Clear reddish brown with small chunks of yeast in the bottom of the glass. 

Aroma: The aroma actually jumps out of the glass. There are hints of cereal, banana, and toffee, but mostly cola. I’ve only once before had a beer that smelled like cola. There is a touch of diacetyl and wet cardboard from oxidation. 

Flavor: More cola just like the aroma with a touch of butter, wet cardboard and banana. 

Mouthfeel: Medium-high carbonation with a medium body and dry finish. 

Overall: The beer held up pretty well all things considered. I preferred the flip top to the bottle cap mostly due to the body. 

Bottle Cap

Appearance: The head flairs up quickly but fades just as fast to a small lacing over the top of the beer. Clear reddish brown with small chunks of yeast in the bottom of the glass. A noticeable difference was the size of the bubbles in the head. The bubbles in this version were much larger than the flip top bottle. 

Aroma: The aroma is similar to the flip top although it is not as strong. The aroma is a little more restrained. 

Flavor: More cola just like the aroma with a touch of butter, toffee, wet cardboard and banana.
Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is pretty weak, slightly watery with a prickly carbonation, my least favorite part of the beer.

Overall: It also held up pretty well but not as well as the flip top. The body is what really killed this beer. 

Conclusion: I think honestly that both beers held up pretty well, with regards to oxidation. I wouldn’t say the beer style held up well to long term aging, but again this wasn’t a study on the effects of aging on a Dunkelweizen. There were minimal signs of oxidation in each beer, so I can say that it probably doesn’t matter if you’re using flip tops or bottle caps. If you’re going be drinking the beers over a few months then it doesn’t matter. Based off of the results of this experiment I would say that it doesn’t matter that much for long term aging either. My main concern would be with the introduction of air to the beer during bottling process. I think that is probably where most of the oxidation comes from, as opposed to air leaking through the seal of either bottle.

1 comment:

  1. A great article indeed and a very detailed, realistic and superb analysis, of this issue, very nice write up, Thanks.

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