What's the difference between carbonating and conditioning your homebrew?

This seems to be a question that we see quite often. How can you tell when one stage ends and the other begins?

The truth is you really can’t they kind of happen at the same time for the first 2 weeks after your beer has been in the bottle.

The whole process of carbonating and conditioning your beer in the bottle is called Bottle Conditioning. We just like to break them out separately.

The reason that we call them out as separate things is just to help you better understand the entire process and know what is going on. Between carbonating and conditioning you don’t need to do anything different with your brew. They can stay in the same spot at the same temperature.

During the first 2 weeks is when the carbonation is taking place. The yeast is eating up your carbonation drops or sugar and creating CO2. This is what gives your beer a nice layer of foam and also helps create those little carbonated bubbles. Another thing that carbonation does it helps the flavors and aromatics of the beer to come together.

If you have ever tasted a beer before you bottle when it is flat and then you taste it after it is carbonated the difference is night and day. The CO2 really helps tie it all together.

After the first 2 weeks of carbonation, we say that the beer is now conditioning. During this time some of the harsh flavors are mellowing out and everything is coming together.

This is also where some off-flavors will get cleaned up. If your beer has a green or cidery taste to it, this is the time where those flavors will clean up and go away.

Conditioning is one of the best things you can do for your beer. Especially for malty beers and beers high in ABV. When you let them sit over time those flavors start to blend together to get the best possible version of your beer.

One thing to note with conditioning is that Hop flavor and aroma will dissipate over time, so if you want a hoppy beer just keep that in mind when you are conditioning your beer.