Why does my beer oxidize at different rates?

Discussion in 'Cellaring / Aging Beer' started by MCImes, Feb 6, 2013.

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  1. MCImes

    MCImes Disciple (353) Dec 31, 2010 Connecticut

    So last night, to celebrate a new job I cracked open a 2009 Nogne Red Horizion. Great beer. mmm. Anyways it had oxidized enough that it took away from its goodness =(. I still drank it and enjoyed it, but still, oxidation = bad. A couple weeks ago I drank a Sweet Horizion from the same 2009 batch. That one had gotten better with no signs of oxidation! They have been stored next to each other, same enviroment their whole lives.

    I know its just a matter of air penetrating the cap, but is there that much variability that one bottle is great after 3 years and the next is bad? Cant brewers come up with a better seal? This makes me nervous about my whole 8 case cellar... maybe time to start drinking...heavily?

    I just thought of this too: How does air penetrate the cap if the bottle is pressureized? shouldnt gasses want to escape the bottle? not go in, right? Does that mean the oxidation occurs just from the air that was in the bottle at the time of capping?

    Thoughts? Thanks.
    tronto likes this.
  2. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,106) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    “I just thought of this too: How does air penetrate the cap if the bottle is pressureized? shouldnt gasses want to escape the bottle? not go in, right?”

    I think that you need a lesson in physics. I am not Sheldon Cooper but I shall do my best:

    The diffusion of oxygen into a beer bottle is ‘defined’ by Dalton’s Law and Henry’s Law and the permeability of cap seal to oxygen diffusion. Both Dalton’s Law and Henry’s Law are based upon partial pressures of a given gas. In a nutshell, if there is less oxygen within the beer bottle then there is oxygen outside the bottle, then oxygen molecules will diffuse across the cap seal into the beer in the bottle. It doesn’t matter how much CO2 is inside the beer bottle since diffusion is on a gas by gas basis: oxygen, nitrogen, etc.

    “Cant brewers come up with a better seal?” Well, they can if the particular brewery ‘cares’ enough. Sierra Nevada did this back in 2007:

    “In March 2007, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. quietly embraced a new technology with the introduction of an innovative barrier crown that actually helps keep beer fresher; blocking oxygen ingress longer without using oxygen-absorbing compounds. Initially, the Chico, California brewer switched its crowns as the final phase of a multi-year test by limiting the new crown to its Summerfest beer. Now, Sierra Nevada is committing fully to the switchover, and has begun the process of utilizing the new barrier crown technology with all its brews, including Sierra Nevada's flagship Pale Ale.

    The new pry-off crown offers an increased oxygen barrier due to its density and oxygen barrier properties. The bottle cap or "crown" that is used to seal most bee and other carbonated beverages has been in existence for over a hundred years. Cork was originally used as the crown sealing liner material for its good resiliency and sealing abilities. Synthetic materials were developed to replace cork due to shortages and processing challenges of using natural cork. Additional benefits also include being more environmentally friendly as these new crowns are produced PVC free.

    "We are always looking for new ways to ensure our beer reaches our drinkers as fresh as possible," said brewery founder Ken Grossman. "It took a lot for us to give up the convenience of our twist-off cap. But we've researched and tested oxygen ingress through crown lining material since 1991 and continued until we found a new material that substantially reduced it."

    Oxygen is the enemy of beer as it causes beer to lose a significant amount of flavor compounds that are essential to taste. Minute amounts of oxygen can pass through the lining of a crown over time, even with a carbonated beverage, affecting the flavor of the beer. While it may be tough to notice this flavor degradation to the average consumer, it is essential to artisan brewers like Sierra Nevada whose drinkers are more discerning and expect a full range of flavor in every bottle.”

  3. nategibbon

    nategibbon Initiate (117) Sep 6, 2008 Illinois

    I'm not familiar with either of these beers, but it seems like you may be comparing apples to oranges. Sweet Horizon may have certain characteristics that respond favorably to/cover up oxidation. There can also be significant batch/bottle variation in the amount of oxygen introduced to the beer before and during packaging.
  4. MCImes

    MCImes Disciple (353) Dec 31, 2010 Connecticut

    They are different styles, red horizion being a strong ale fermented with sake yeast and sweet horizion being a very sweet desert beer. Ive seen this with other beers though. Bigfoot being one of them.
  5. Loganyoung

    Loganyoung Initiate (0) Jul 16, 2011 Georgia
    Beer Trader

    And to add another thought. As many of you home brewers know. The more air the beer comes in contact with before it goes into the bottle will increase the rate of oxidation.
  6. bramsdell

    bramsdell Aspirant (278) May 27, 2011 North Carolina

    Shut up, nerd. Why can't you wait until at least the second page to provide a well-supported and constructive answer?
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