Ask Mr. Wizard

Blending Carbonated & Non-Carbonated Beer


Scott Mead asks,

Can you blend an already carbonated sour with a fresh brewed non-carbonated beer without any issues?



There are many ways to blend, and for numerous reasons. It sounds like you may have a sour beer that is maybe a bit too much and perhaps could be improved by blending with a young beer. There is no problem in the fact that one beer is carbonated and the second beer is not. The real question that comes to mind is whether the carbonated beer is in a keg or if it was bottled?

Blending two bulk beers into a single keg is the way to go about any blending endeavor. Attempting to improve bottled beer by moving from bottle to a keg has oxidation written all over the plan and is something I would avoid doing. Perhaps that sentence is a little too mild… don’t even think about moving beer from bottle to keg unless you are prepared to reverse, counter-pressure fill your bottles to protect your beer. This is a major pain in the neck.

The easiest way to do this is to first determine your blend ratio through blending trials. Once you settle on a blend, go ahead and rack the two beers into one keg. Assuming one beer is better suited for blending than the other, I would attempt to use all of one beer and a portion of the other if the blend ratio is not 50/50. Now that the blended batch is in a keg, you can now adjust the carbonation and dispense it from the keg, or counter-pressure fill into bottles. I suggest counter-pressure filling because your sour beer is already carbonated, and I really hope that this beer is not already bottled.

There is one major consideration that needs to be addressed with your plan, especially if you want to bottle the blends; what is going to happen to the fresh beer when it is mixed with the sour beer? Sour beers often contain super-attenuating yeast strains, like Brettanomyces. These yeast strains are capable of fermenting dextrins that cannot be fermented by Saccharomyces strains. This is certainly not a bad thing and is one of the reasons I find Brett beers refreshing and dry. You do need to keep this information in mind when bottling these beers, though, because dextrins that are normally assumed to not add carbonation do when super-attenuators are present, and this needs to be considered when adding priming sugar. This is why most of these type of beers are bottled in champagne-style bottles that are rated for much higher pressure than the ratings for a normal beer bottle.




Response by Ashton Lewis.