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Old 08-27-2008, 12:36 PM   #1
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Default Project 'Save My XXX Old Ale'

No matter how much you brew, you can still get screwed by lazy-ass English yeast.

I brewed this face-rockingly awesome Old Ale awhile back, and because I'll be aging it for a long time, I naturally carbed it in bottles rather than going to the keg. I went from 1.074 to 1.020...figured that it was done because I had high mash temps and good amount of specialty grains, since I wanted it to finish high.

Now, I have over 2 cases of slightly overcarbed Old Ale. It's not enough to make it a real problem like some overcarbed beers I've had, but it's enough to take it out of the style range. There must have been a few points of fermentable sugar left in there that the essex strain just didn't feel like eating. Douchebag Brits are good fer nuthin!

Now, I know that with ale that you age for extended periods, you actually usually get a slow increase in carbonation---I even get this with most aged commercial brews too. So after a few years, this will probably get worse, not better, and the base beer is way too awesome to just let sleeping dogs lie.

So, what I'm trying to do is uncap them, offgas some of the co2, then recap them. I'll probably do several test bottles...one where I just let a little gas off, one where I take the cap off and replace it after 5 seconds, and another where I take it off and let it sit for 30 seconds or more. This is really the only way to figure out the very best method to get the desired carb level...

But I've never done this before, so, is there anyone out there with experience offgassing to decarb an overcarbed beer? It's not bad enough to foam up out of the bottle when I open them...any advice?

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Old 08-27-2008, 12:44 PM   #2
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I've only done it once, so I'm definitely no expert, but I did it the way you describe with simply removing the cap, and then recapping. It worked fine, but I didn't keep it around very long to see the long term effect. (I tend to drink my beer too fast, and don't age it properly).

Anyway- just one thought I had: I did this at basement temperature. Would doing it on cold beer vs. warm beer change the amount of co2 in solution? I mean, that might make a difference, too. If you uncap and then recap at cold temperatures, more co2 would remain dissolved in the beer. In your experiment, maybe try one at room temperature and one at fridge temperature, uncap and then recap. Try them in two weeks, and see which one is better. I wonder if uncapping a cold beer would work better for you. I also could be totally wrong, though, and just talking out of my ***.

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Old 08-27-2008, 12:52 PM   #3
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I once tried outgassing some bottles of hefe, which were total gushers, by prying the cap a bit as you suggest. This little "burp" took the beer from certified gusher to being just stable enough to not gush, but still so freakin carbonated that it had the mouth feel of Coca Cola and required decanting to make it right.

I like the experiment you're putting together and look forward to hearing the results for next time I have a problem like that. Also, it might be slightly easier and a bit more sanitary to do your testing with a series of bottle burps rather than removing the caps entirely. That is to say, 1 burp vs. 3 burps spaced ten minutes apart vs. 5 burps spaced ten minutes apart, etc.

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Old 08-27-2008, 01:05 PM   #4
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Can I just pry the caps off slightly, then recap with the same cap? I don't have any more oxygen-absorbing caps in stock, and with long-term agers, I like to use those.

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XX: Moss Hollow Springs Sparkling Water 95: Gott Mit Uns German Pils 91b: Brown Willie's Oaked Abbey Ale 103: Merkin Stout
98: Yorkshire Special 100: Maple Porter 89: Cidre Saison 101: Steffiweizen '09 (#3)
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Old 08-27-2008, 01:14 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Evan! View Post
Can I just pry the caps off slightly, then recap with the same cap? I don't have any more oxygen-absorbing caps in stock, and with long-term agers, I like to use those.
EEEK, I personally wouldn't risk it....I'd almost risk using non O2 absorbing caps over recaps, for long term anyway.

I have re-capped commercial beers for a few days with the original cap (like if I wasn't in the mood for a whole bomber of Rogue Chipotle) and had no discernable loss of carbonation, but that's only over 2 days at the most.
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Old 08-27-2008, 01:15 PM   #6
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Sorry to hear that this happened to your Old Ale. I was looking forward to an Old Ale swap in 8 months or so. I had planned on kegging mine and then bottling, and after hearing about your experience now I know that I'm going to do so.

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Old 08-27-2008, 01:15 PM   #7
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Can I just pry the caps off slightly, then recap with the same cap? I don't have any more oxygen-absorbing caps in stock, and with long-term agers, I like to use those.
Like Yooper....I'm NO EXPERT....But I did do this to a beer just pretty recently.
I would NOT use the same cap...too much at risk.
I popped of the lids and immediately stuck a new cap on to hold out the dust....then let them sit for about 20 minutes, if it's a serious over carb situation (like I had) pick up the bottles and swirl them till the head reaches the top of the bottle then let it settle back a few times to really help off gas the beer...Then press that new cap back on and be quite sure that you'll never have to worry about that beer oxidizing...EVER!
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Old 08-27-2008, 01:32 PM   #8
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Wow, I guess i'm the only one who prys the lid just enough to squeak some gas out. It's not enough to bend the cap or anything, but really does require a wall-mounted opener to apply just the right amount of leverage. No re-capping necessary as you aren't exceeding the spring tension limit of the cap. I've not had any problems, but then, this wasn't a precious Old Ale either. Doesn't hurt anything to play it safe and fully recap, though.

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Old 08-27-2008, 01:36 PM   #9
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I had a problem like this as well. I tried adjusting the carbonation bottle by bottle but ended up with it being very uneven. I ended up purging a keg with CO2 and carefully pouring each bottle into it. I took a few days to completely remove the CO2 from the beer in the keg. Then force carbed it to the level I wanted and used my BMBF to fill bottles when it was ready. It's been 7 months since they went back into bottles and they're just how I wanted them.

It's probably the long way but I didn't want to take the chance on a beer that would be hanging around for a couple years.

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Old 08-27-2008, 02:25 PM   #10
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Put a penny on the lid and you won't bend it , so it can be used again

I've had some experience with this

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