The Great Bottle Opener Giveaway

Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > Under-Carbonation Problem!

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 12-14-2009, 03:29 AM   #1
paint_it_black
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 119
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

Default Under-Carbonation Problem!

I've been brewing for a few years now... Recently relocated to my hometown and have been brewing with my dad (who has been brewing for the same amount of time as me). It seems that all of the batches we have churned out have been very undercarbonated. We use the standard 3/4 cup dextrose per 5 gal batch, but it just doesn't seem to do it. Most of our beers are practically still flat after three weeks. If given a month or two, they will pour with a slight amount of head, only if poured straight down the glass (not tilted). None of these are particularly "big" beers", though a couple have bridged up to the 6-7% ABV range. Still, even the lighter-on-alcohol ones have this undercarbonation issue.
Since we started brewing together recently, we've moved up to all-grain -- I'm not sure if that has anything to do with it. Since we have usually been hitting our target original gravities, I don't think that would be it, since we're acheiving the expected starch conversion, yielding a sufficient quantity of fermentables. (Dad says he's always had this issue, even with extract brews. Although I have had some of his beers that at least have beeter carbonation than those we've made of late)

We use tap water (Brita filtered), and don't know it's specific characteristics, but guys at the LBHS say they use their tap water and don't have this problem. So I don't know whether it could be our water...

Can anyone lend any suggestions as to why we're having this issue and how to fix it?

__________________
paint_it_black is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 12-14-2009, 04:30 AM   #2
TheFlatline
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Ventura, CA
Posts: 428
Liked 2 Times on 2 Posts

Default

I've been having a similar problem lately, but I think for me it's a temperature thing.

Things to try:

Grab a copy of brewsmith or use an online calculator to actually calculate the amount of sugar you need vs the temperature of your beer at bottling (which will make a difference. 50 degree beer and 70 degree beer use like an ounce of dextrose difference).

Keep your beer in a slightly warmer place. It may be too cold (my problem now) and the yeast is sluggish.

After a few days swirl up the yeast at the bottom of the bottle and get it suspended again. This usually really helps.

Use a different bottle capper. You might not be capping very well and you might have a slow leak on your bottlecaps.

I don't think tap water would matter if you are getting actual fermentation and hitting your FG.

__________________
I never did like to do anything simple when I could do it ass-backwards...
TheFlatline is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 12-14-2009, 05:16 AM   #3
paint_it_black
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 119
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

Default

Thanks! Definitely gonna try the swirling technique right now.

__________________
paint_it_black is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 12-16-2009, 01:18 AM   #4
rocketman768
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
rocketman768's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Evanston, IL
Posts: 1,086
Liked 22 Times on 19 Posts

Default

Volume is a bad way to measure priming sugar. Measure by mass with a scale, and see this priming chart.

http://byo.com/resources/carbonation

rocketman768 is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 12-16-2009, 04:03 AM   #5
mithion
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Reno, Nevada
Posts: 395
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

Default

You say your beers aren't that strong but I've had 4% beers take 3 weeks to carb up nicely. For 6-7%, it may take a month. Besides time, we can definitely eliminate the obvious. First, the amount of priming sugar you use is fine. 3/4 cups is a pretty standard amount and I've had beers carb up fine using only 1/2 cups. Second, you say your beers are under carbonated but they still have some carbonation. That tells me you still have yeast in there so your problem is not lack of yeast. Now you didn't mention any consistency problems so I assume all your beers are turning out with the same carbonation. We can thus eliminate under mixing of the priming sugar. So we can eliminate those three issues.

With that in mind, I'm leaning towards temperature as being the culprit. When you're carbing your beers, you shouldn't have your beers sit below 60F for any significant time period. Below that temperature, most ale yeasts become very sluggish and a few strands will simply rapidly flocculate and drop to the bottom. Swirl your bottles and warm em up as suggested.

Lastly, just wanted to mention that head is not necessarily an indicator of carbonation. It's true you need carbonation to have head, but you can have beers with no head with good carbonation. If you want to have bit more head, a few things will help. The addition of some crystal malts, maybe some malted wheat, flaked oats or flaked barley will all help to have better head.

__________________

Primary:
Secondary: Chimay Tripel #1
Conditioning: The Day After Christmas Eve Old Ale, Phil's Classic English #2
Drinking: Irish Rebellion
Next Beer: Earthly Brown

mithion is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 12-16-2009, 08:00 AM   #6
paint_it_black
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 119
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

Default

Wow, thanks so much for the detailed reply. After reading it, I do think temp might have soemthing to do with it, but I'm pretty sure the temp in my beer closet rarely drops below the low 60s. I'm starting to really think maybe it's just time. I just cracked a Pumpkin Ale I bottled on 10/25, which didn't seem all too carbonated last time I tried it a few ago, but now is perfect.
Gonna keep swirling the more-newly-bottled beers every couple of days, monitor the temperature, and give more time

__________________
paint_it_black is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 12-16-2009, 03:40 PM   #7
tkone
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 154
Default

also, it REALLY helps to weigh the sugar rather than measure it -- and to vary the amount of sugar you're using depending on the carbonation levels you're looking for.

there are a slew of calculators on the internet that'll show you exactly how much sugar you'll need to achieve a certain volume of carbonation.

and yes, rousing the yeast can help if it's cooler where you're conditioning.

__________________

On tap:
You Porter, You Dug 'er Up (Munich/Crystal version)
Todd's Special Bitter
Brown Cascade Hoppy Brown Ale

Fermenting:
You Porter, You Dug 'er Up (Amber/Brown malt version)
Shortwrench IPA (Longhammer Clone)

tkone is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 12-16-2009, 07:54 PM   #8
Matt Up North
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Posts: 2,021
Liked 8 Times on 8 Posts
Likes Given: 1

Default

My trick is to take equal parts sugar and water (so 6oz sugar and 6oz water) and put into a pyrex measuring cup and stick in the microwave for a minute on high and then stir, back in for a minute and then stir, doing this until all of the sugar is dissolved, about 3-5 times. Then I pour that into the bottling bucket, which is room temp, and siphon the beer onto that. Then stir the hell out of it (since the oxygen will be consumed by the yeast anyways). Bottle and then leave as close to 70* as possible for two weeks and then enjoy. Any cooler and it takes longer. My latest was carbed at 2 and I started drinking at 3 weeks.

Also, if you leave your beer too long in primary, be sure to take up a little yeast so that the beer can carb. It sounds like you have enough yeast though, so disregarrd this step.

__________________
New and improved signature.
Matt Up North is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 12-16-2009, 08:12 PM   #9
paint_it_black
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 119
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

Default

I'll definitely be using a calculator (such as the one linked above) and weighing my sugar henceforth. I'm going to do that today, actually, as I'm about to bottle my Aberdeen (Newcastle clone). Thanks for all the input guys! I'll keep ya posted on my findings.

__________________
paint_it_black is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 12-17-2009, 07:23 AM   #10
maltbarleyhops
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: st charles mo, mo
Posts: 304
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts
Likes Given: 4

Default

definately weigh your corn sugar. it has such a high compaction rate. a few taps on the table with the measuring cup and a cup becomes 3/4.

__________________
maltbarleyhops is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Reply


Quick Reply
Message:
Options
Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Carbonation Problem Sky7 Bottling/Kegging 5 10-28-2009 04:50 PM
another carbonation problem bighandsray Bottling/Kegging 7 06-23-2009 02:31 AM
Carbonation problem Spot29er General Beer Discussion 7 06-05-2009 01:16 AM
Problem......????? - (carbonation) physfarm General Beer Discussion 16 12-24-2008 03:27 PM
Carbonation problem -Dan- General Techniques 13 09-03-2007 06:15 PM