What is can-conditioned beer all about?
Can-conditioning is the simple method of adding sugar and fresh yeast to beer during the packaging process and allowing some time for the beer to re-ferment and carbonate inside the can or bottle. Another way of looking at it is giving some more food to the yeast to eat after it's been sealed inside it's final serving vessel. Normally, all yeast activity will take place in our large fermenter tanks. Can-conditioning is traditionally popular in Belgium, and the method is used to improve shelf-stability and deliver a clean, crisp mouthfeel. We use can-conditioning on some of our beers to improve flavour, aroma, and mouthfeel while allowing them to last longer after they've been packaged.
How does can-conditioning work?
Conditioning is the process of carbonating beer. Without this step, you would have flat, characterless beer. For most of our brews we use a method called "forced carbonation", which involves pumping pressurized CO2 into cold beer in our brite tank. This method is more efficient and generally easier to control than natural conditioning. Natural methods of conditioning, though a bit more involved and time-consuming, can deliver some spectacular results.
The process of can-conditioning can be implemented, with some careful calculations so as not to over-pressurize, in any airtight vessel, such as a bottle or keg. The natural carbonation process involves putting the beer through a second fermentation. During the original fermentation, the yeast devours the sugars in the beer and gives off CO2, which is allowed to escape. During conditioning, more sugar (and fresh yeast) is added before putting the beer into a container that will not allow CO2 to escape. The trapped CO2 naturally carbonates the beer.
Why do you can-condition some of your beers?
We've been experimenting and perfecting this method on many of our wild ales, saisons, and barrel-aged ales. Through can-conditioning, these beers are able to deliver more effervescence and complex flavours. They are also more shelf-stable. Though the process takes more time and effort, it's worth it at the end. The outcome is a beer with great flavour and a crisp, soft carbonation that cannot be replicated.
How do I tell what beers are can-conditioned?
We put it right on our labels! Look for the CAN CONDITIONED BEER stamp with pouring instructions on the back.
Watch our How To Pour a Can-Conditioned Beer video.