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TheZymurgist 11-13-2012 06:52 PM

First Bottle Carbing Issue
This is the first time I've ever had an issue with under-carbonation, so I thought I'd get some input.

I brewed a milk stout (5 gallon batch) on September 3rd, bottled it October 6th using about 3 to 3.5 oz of corn sugar. After two weeks of sitting in the low 70's, I put a bottle in the fridge for two days and checked the carbonation. I thought it was perfectly carbonated, so I put all of the bottles in the fridge. I tried another one a week later and it seemed slightly less carbed, and one a week after that and it was even less carbed. This weekend (5 weeks after bottling) I tried one and it was basically flat. I took all of them out of the fridge.

The guy I split the batch with has kept all of his out of the fridge and will put chill them two days prior to drinking. His are all perfectly carbonated.

Is there any chance that mine will regain carbonation if I take them out of the fridge, or do I need to try adding carbonation drops?

homebrewdad 11-13-2012 07:00 PM

When you put them in the fridge, you put the yeast to sleep and stopped the carbonation process. Odds are that if you take them out and leave them at 70 degrees for another week or so, they'll be fine.

Three weeks at 70 degrees is the baseline for most beers. Some are ready faster, but higher gravities or lower temps often take longer.

TheZymurgist 11-14-2012 01:00 PM

Yeah, I'm aware that the yeast go dormant, but I'm wondering whether there will be any sugar left for them to consume if they do wake up again.

Also, it's very odd that the beer would lose carbonation. I don't understand this. If it was perfectly carbonated after two weeks, why would refrigerating them reduce the carbonation?

WoodlandBrew 11-14-2012 01:08 PM

The fact that they seem to be loosing carbonation is definitely an oddity. Two weeks at about 70 degrees should be plenty of time to produce the CO2, and you don't seem to have a problem there because the first bottle carbonated fine.

My guess would be that the bottles aren't sealed well, or that the priming sugar wasn't mix well. Have you changes your process in either of these regards recently?

Recently I found that half of the bottles I did were flat. I had recently bought a second capper and was having someone help me cap bottles, and it turned out that one of my cappers didn't seal the bottles well.

If it is the bottle seal then adding more sugar is in order. Half of one carbonation drop per bottle, or 1/4 tsp of sugar per bottle should do it.

Jayhem 11-14-2012 01:15 PM

It is normal for your beer to appear to lose carbonation when refrigerated for a few days. The liquid will actually absorb the CO2 when cold and slowly release it as it warms up. If you opened one of your Stouts that had NEVER been refrigerated my guess is it would give a nice big head but go flat once the head dissipated. One of my first beers was a 1.055 OG Milk stout and that beer took every bit of 5 weeks to finish carbonating. The only thing I can think of is the Lactose content effects the yeast ability to find the fermentable sugars during carbonation but that's just me spit-balling.

Another thing to think about is that 3oz of corn sugar is not much for a 5 gallon batch. I'm not sure how many volumes of CO2 that would be but most beers are primed with 4-5 oz per 5 gallons depending on style.

duboman 11-14-2012 01:19 PM

Definitely consider that 3-3.5oz of sugar is low for a typical 5 gallon batch. Ideally .75-1oz per finished gallon of beer is usually around 2.4-2.6 volumes of CO2 for carbonation.

WoodlandBrew 11-14-2012 01:25 PM

It could be that the beer is still absorbing carbon dioxide, but the difference from two days of refrigeration to one week is significant, but over a week in the fridge hasn't every made a difference for me.

Agreed, 3.5 oz of corn sugar is less than normal. It will add about 1 volume of CO2 to the beer. If the beer was kept at 70 degrees or below this should result in about 2 volumes of CO2. In contrast the standard 5oz adds about 2 volumes and will carbonate beer to about 2.5 volumes.

daksin 11-14-2012 05:53 PM

Yea, you didn't use very much sugar- you're only going to end up with about 2.1-2.2 volumes of CO2 max. 5oz is more common for 5g of beer.

TheZymurgist 11-15-2012 01:03 PM

The calculator I used said it would be about 2.5 volumes, which is what I was going for. Since it's a stout and stouts are typically less carbonated.

duboman 11-15-2012 02:04 PM


Originally Posted by TheZymurgist (Post 4591739)
The calculator I used said it would be about 2.5 volumes, which is what I was going for. Since it's a stout and stouts are typically less carbonated.

According to BeerSmith's calculator for 2.5 vol at 68F you would need 4.39 oz of priming sugar for 5 gallons of finished beer.

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