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Old 01-13-2012, 07:28 PM   #1
WolvinMaine
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Default Need help carbonating sours

Hello,

I am looking for some suggestions on carbonating sours. I have bottled 6 batches of sours so far, and have struggled with the carbonation. I usually let my beers sit for over 1 year. In fact, the only one that did carbonate was bottled in about 5 months. The rest have been sitting for over a year, and none of them have carbed. I have reyeasted with rehydrated dry yeast each time, trying Safale 05 and Nottingham at first, and after no success, trying Red Star Champagne yeast.

Two weeks ago I bottled 2 gallons of straight lambic with 1 gram of rehydrated dried Red Star Champagne yeast per gallon, and 1 oz of dextrose per gallon with very little or no net effect to date. Usually after 2 weeks, I would expect most of the carbonation to be there. I have 3 more gallons of the same beer, split into 3 batches, one on strawberries for 6 months, one on raspberries for 6 months, and 1 gallon dry hopped for 2 weeks. I want to get these guys in bottles, but I want to re-evaluate my bottle conditioning with these beers, as I have yet to have much success.

So, I would love to know how you guys carbonate your sours that have been aged for over 1 year. I could keg and force carb, but that strikes me as cheating, and I want to come up with a good bottle conditioning method for these beers. I like to split them into smaller batches to play with, and I don't want to tie up a keg force carbing one gallon of brew. Thanks for you time.

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Old 01-13-2012, 07:53 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WolvinMaine View Post
Hello,

I am looking for some suggestions on carbonating sours. I have bottled 6 batches of sours so far, and have struggled with the carbonation. I usually let my beers sit for over 1 year. In fact, the only one that did carbonate was bottled in about 5 months. The rest have been sitting for over a year, and none of them have carbed. I have reyeasted with rehydrated dry yeast each time, trying Safale 05 and Nottingham at first, and after no success, trying Red Star Champagne yeast.
In all six batches you added more yeast? I have never heard of brewers doing this, brett will take care of cabonation if given sugar, takes some time but most brewers have problems with too much carbonation. Dont have an answer for you, but I will do some research.
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Old 01-13-2012, 08:17 PM   #3
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The beers were in a fermentor for a year or in the bottle for a year? I assuming in a fermentor.

how was the carbonation on the beer that sat 5 months? Did you add yeast when bottling this beer as well? What temp do you store your bottles at?

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Old 01-13-2012, 09:48 PM   #4
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I've had a similar experience with two batches of straight lambic, one of which has been in bottles for 4 years and tastes delicious but entirely still.

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Old 01-14-2012, 01:04 AM   #5
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What did you figure for residual CO2? I know that a "fresh" normal beer has not released much of it's CO2 and the calculators take that in to account per the temperature. However long term aging like that knocks out carbonation. So instead of 1 vol almost at 65F you might have less than half that much. Other than that I don't got anything for ya...

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Old 01-14-2012, 03:42 AM   #6
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The beers sit in the fermentors the whole time. The temps vary through the year, but they are in my furnace room in the basement, so usually around 70F in the winter, and cooler in the summer when the furnace is not in use as regularly, never much below 65F. They are crystal clear when I bottle, due to the time, and I usually suck up a small amount of the sediment when I rack to the bottling bucket to get some of the old yeast back in solution. I then add the rehydrated yeast and the sugar as I am racking to let it mix, then I bottle. I don't want to bottle earlier, because I am worried about these bottles blowing up. The fermentors are glass, but after aging that long, I suspect there is very little carbonation left in the beer from the initial fermentation, and I plan for that in the amount of priming sugar I use.

Yes, there is brett in all of these, but even the first batch I bottled, over 1 year ago, still has not carbonated, so even accounting for the slower fermentation rates, the brett has not done much of anything. I switched to champagne yeast because wine yeasts are more alcohol and acidic tolerant then brewers yeasts, and I am just trying to get it to ferment a simple sugar to carbonate, so they seem a good choice. I then hold the bottled beers for up to 4 weeks in the same the fermentors are in, room about 70F this time of year. Despite all this, not any luck. Has anyone had much luck carbonating a sour that has sat in a fermentor for 1 year+ without force carbing? If so, how did you do it?

The beer that fermented for 5 months carbonated fine, no priming yeast. However, now, about 1 year after bottling, the remaining bottles I have are getting overprimed, and I have to get them very cold before I open them, and will have to drink them soon before I am worried about the bottles breaking.

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Old 01-14-2012, 03:58 AM   #7
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Are you just chucking the yeast in just after rehydrating? I think the key to this would be to allow them ferment and get to some sort of activity before dumping them in a low pH alcoholic environment. The beers I've done that are high alcohol with champagne yeast did the same thing when I only rehydrated the yeast. Now I will add them to a sugar solution like two hours before bottling to get them actively fermenting and add that as part of the priming solution. I haven't had any problems since switching to this tactic.

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Old 01-14-2012, 04:03 AM   #8
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Can you walk me through your process? How much yeast are you using? are you hydrating it, then adding it to a sugar solution, or rehydrating it in a sugar solution? How strong is your solution? How much priming sugar do you use? How long are you aging your beers?

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Old 01-14-2012, 05:16 AM   #9
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I just bottled some year old lambic at the end of December. I haven't popped a bottle open yet but I am hopeful for carbonation. I neglected to add any fresh yeast to carbonate. The bottles all developed pellicles and see to have some carbonation to them but I may be wrong. I did add a generous amount of sugar because brett tends to produce less carbonation and I anticipated the dissolved CO2 level was very low from the aging.

How long are you letting the bottles sit before opening? You may have some delayed fermentation due to the ph.

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Old 01-14-2012, 05:06 PM   #10
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I follow the same procedures you do and have not had a problem with any of the 5 sours I've bottled (high ABV clean beers is another story). I do like smokinghole's idea of rehydrating the yeast in the priming solution, I'd give that a try next time around.

You have me really nervous about the Kriek I bottled less than 2 weeks ago though, hopefully come February I'll have all the bubbles I need.

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