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Old 06-23-2012, 10:58 PM   #1
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Default Carbonation Problems

Hi Fellow Brewers - I'm at wits' end and need your help. I've been home brewing for a couple years now. I've made many batches of extract recipes, and have enjoyed good results. i'm particularly fond of brewing IPAs (because I like them and hey, they're hard to mess up)

My first 20 batches or so were partial boils, and primary and secondary fermentation. Primed, bottled them up and voila, several weeks later I have nice, carbonated beer! So everything was working well.

Then I switched over to full boil (still with extract). And about the same time, all my subsequent batches have little or no carbonation. Everything else is the same. I tried aerating after cooling the wort, but my OG to FG is fine so the yeast seem plentiful, doing their job - and still no carbonation in the bottle.

I'm very sad, because I'm on the verge of giving up brewing ( I love brewing and my beer, but I draw the line at having to drink it flat). I'm going to go back to a partial for my next batch to see if it has something to do with full vs. partial, but I'm really lost and frustrated as to what the problem is. Not finding answers in the usual places either...

Help!!!!!

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Old 06-23-2012, 11:19 PM   #2
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Odd... full versus partial boil should have no affect on carbonation.

How many batches have come out with little or no carbonation?

How long have you allowed for bottle carbonation? At what temperature do you have the bottles after filling?

Have any of the carbonation conditions changed?

Have you used different yeast strains since switching to full boils?

Have you tried using only a primary and not racking to secondary?

How long after pitching are you bottling?

Are you absolutely sure that you are adding priming sugar? How much priming sugar are you using? What type?

I realize that these are pretty general questions but there should be no reason to fail carbonation with healthy yeast and adequate priming sugar. And there should be no reason to suddenly get no carbonation simply as a result of full versus partial boil. Something else must have changed in your techniques...

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Old 06-23-2012, 11:45 PM   #3
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I started getting a few dead flat bottles, and I think I have traced it to the capper. They look OK, but I think the seal isn't quite right. I just ordered a bench capper. It's possible you might have a similar problem.

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Old 06-24-2012, 12:34 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncbrewer View Post
I started getting a few dead flat bottles, and I think I have traced it to the capper. They look OK, but I think the seal isn't quite right. I just ordered a bench capper. It's possible you might have a similar problem.
An excellent thought. I see no way going to all grain could in any way affect the beer's ability to take carbonation. That is a yeast/priming issue and obviously if you have fermentation you have yeast in suspension, and unless you are talking very high gravity and extended fermentations, there is no reason not to carbonate after priming.
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:35 PM   #5
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Thanks guys - As I said, everything is the same from when I used to get consistently carbonated beers, except that I went to the full boil. You may have a point about the capper. How can you tell whether or not it is working properly - I don't want to spend money on a new one when i'm not sure if that's the problem.

Since I posted, I found a couple started to have mild carbonation (others are still flat). But it has easily been 6 weeks or more since bottling and I've never had to wait this long for carbonation.

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Old 06-26-2012, 07:40 PM   #6
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Some bottles take longer than others. I assume you're using the same ratio of priming sugar/extract for carbing? I also assume you carb at room temp (about 70*F)?

I usually tilt my bottles upside down slowly after capping to check for leaks, but this doesn't mean they're perfectly air tight. Try putting beer in a 2-litre soda bottle at the time of bottling and see if that one carbs up. You have yeast, sugar...there should be carb.

Some bottles take longer than 3 weeks, though, too.

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Old 06-26-2012, 07:48 PM   #7
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+1 on the capper.... or the caps.

Don't think anything about the beer should effect the results you mention.
Yeast is yeast, and if you are hitting terminal gravity then there is no reason other than the bottles, caps or the process in bottling that will keep it from carbing.

I assume the priming sugar is the same....

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Old 07-06-2012, 03:27 PM   #8
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Yes guys - I've never had to wait so long for my high gravity IPAs to carb, but one batch finally did (after many weeks, about 8 or more...). Other batch did not carb, but I may have left the batch in secondary too long.

So, I'm not quite quitting yet. Heading up to HBS this weekend to make another batch! Will use a different bottler and will just wait and wait and wait...

Thanks for all the advice

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Old 07-06-2012, 03:54 PM   #9
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Another +1 on the capper. Partial vs full boil has to do with hop utilization and carmelization... nthing to do with carbonation (which is a function of yeast processing priming sugar that hasn't even been added yet).

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Old 09-21-2012, 08:48 PM   #10
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Just to finalize, I believe I figured out my carbonation problem by doing 4 things: 1) I aerated the wort for a few minutes when I mixed in my yeast with a whisk, 2) I used a sterilized long-handled spoon to stir (gently) wort & sugar in the bottling bucket (just depending on the racking flow might not be enough to distribute the sugar evenly, 3) I moved the wort out of secondary into bottling promptly after two weeks (I think I may have left the wort in secondary for too long a few times) and 4) I did not buy a new hand capper, but made sure that I pressed down very firmly on each cap.

I am not sure which of the above solutions solved whatever was causing my problems before, but my most recent brews - Black Pepper IPA and a RIS - high ABV as they are - have carbonated nicely after only a few weeks. Thanks to all for their suggestions here. I am once again a very Happy Chappy home brewer! Next up - ESB and APA moving to Secondary this weekend. Yum yum.

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