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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > Infection or Gravity Problem; over-carbonation
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Old 04-06-2010, 03:49 AM   #1
eurc51
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Default Infection or Gravity Problem; over-carbonation

Recently I've been having a problem with over-carbonated beer. I'm pretty careful with sanitation, so I'm hoping it's not bacteria, but I guess it's possible since it has been the last 3 brews. But, the last three brews have also all used the same yeast US-05. I'm ashamed to admit that I never used my hydrometer before this problem occurred. I would just leave my beers in the primary for 2 weeks and then the secondary for about 3 or 4 before bottling and everything was fine. Is there any way to know if I have an infection problem or that these beers haven't fully fermented. I'm using the hydrometer now religiously. But, I'd also like to identify an infection problem if I have one. Has anyone ever tried to culture bacteria from their beer? I'm sure that sounds extreme, but not that hard if you have access to a lab. My beers taste and smell fine, they are just about to explode out of the bottle. The last three beers...a wheat, pale ale, and pumpkin have the problem. And, each used Safale US-05. Anyone else have an issue with this yeast?

Thanks,

emu

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Old 04-06-2010, 03:55 AM   #2
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What do you mean explode out of the bottle? And how much sugar are you adding?

Are you sure you have close to 5 gallons of beer when you go to bottle? For example, I lose about 0.5 gallon due to yeast/trub so I end up with 4.5 gallons of beer to bottle. If you lose more you could end up with only 4. That means that when you prime with sugar meant for 5 gallons you are over-carbing by 20%.

Also, are you chilling your beer before drinking? Sometimes I get nothing but foam if I open beers that are still warm.

You likely do not have infections since the bacteria generate off flavors and smells. Something you could pick up on without needing to culture in a lab.

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Old 04-06-2010, 03:59 AM   #3
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first thing that leaps to mind is you bottled to soon. its good that your now using your hydrometer. its the only way to tell if fermentation is actually done or not. never rack your beer anywhere till your SG stops falling for 3 or more days in a row. also if your fermenter gets to cold the yeast will go to sleep on you and it may appear that fermentation is done. then when they warm up again the yeast wake up and pick up where they left off.

my thoughts on infections are if you cant see it, smell it, or taste it, its not infected.

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Old 04-06-2010, 04:01 AM   #4
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yeah - that's a bit of an exaggeration. Basically, when I pop the cap off, the beer immediately starts to foam over. If I open the top really slowly, I can keep the it from overflowing the bottle, but when I gently pour the beer down the side of the glass, I get a pint of foam. The problem also seems to get worse with time/age.

I use 5oz of corn sugar. And, now that you mention it, I probably have around 4.5 gallons (according to my bucket) at the time of bottling. And, the beer is stored at around 68 degrees and always refrigerated before serving.

Thanks for the feedback. I can try to adjust the sugar for my smaller batch.

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Old 04-06-2010, 04:05 AM   #5
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are the bottles upright in the fridge? i've read on here that having them on their sides can cause a foam over when you open them.

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Old 04-06-2010, 02:30 PM   #6
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I am having a very similar problem with my last brew. I just finished a porter. When I first started drinking it the carbonation was fine. However a month later and I am getting HUGE foaming and losing half the bottle. Refrigeration does not help reduce the foam. Also I don't think it's infected as there are no off flavors. However it is less sweet than at first. I am pretty sure I added a bit too much corn sugar, but can just a 1/4 oz or so make the difference between normal carbonaton and excessive foaming?

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Old 04-06-2010, 02:54 PM   #7
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Time definitely seems to be a factor. In general my beers gain carbonation in the bottle over time. But, nothing like the last few, which is why I thought it might be the yeast. I'm wonder if safale US-05 is more sensitive and prone to going dormant before all of the sugar is gone. For my future beers I'm going to focus on the gravity and watch the temp. more closely. Nothing is more disappointing that cracking a beer and getting a pint of foam. secinarot, thanks for the input and good luck.

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Old 04-06-2010, 03:21 PM   #8
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5 oz of sugar is a lot for 5 gallons, not to mention 4.5! That's your problem.

I don't have Beersmith handy, but IIRC, I used 5.0 oz. to bottle my Belgian Dubbel. That was a little over 5 gallons in bottles and it was really effervescent, the foam would creep up out of the bottle if you let it sit for a second. I'm guessing at 4.5 gallons and 5.0 oz, you're close to 3 vols of carbonation. That's a lot. I think I put 4 oz of corn sugar in my last pale ale and it's perfectly carbonated.

You could get some more caps, crack open the bottles and recap, then let them sit a couple days. Might equalize the pressure right where you need it.

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Old 04-06-2010, 09:11 PM   #9
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Man I hate bottle conditioning exactly for reasons like this. Definitely my first recommendation is what people have been mentioning about actually measuring the volume of beer being bottled. That's NOT the recipe size, it's NOT the amount of beer in the primary, it's NOT the amount in the secondary, it's how much is in the bottling bucket. From brewing to bottling I've sometimes lost 3 quarts of beer if I use a low-flocculation yeast and use a secondary for adding flavors/dry hops. You have to adjust for the fact you're bottling less beer.

Furthermore, you also need to account for how much carbonation is currently dissolved in the beer. Just because your carboy is unpressurized doesn't mean there's no CO2 in the beer. Any liquid can hold a certain quantity of CO2, depending on its temperature, but I find this an incredibly frustrating thing to estimate.

For example, let's say you have a beer that ferments at 65*. Then it finishes, but you have a heat spell come through and the beer makes it up to 70*. Because of the higher temps, wouldn't you have less CO2 in solution? How much less? Also, I find that the vigorous activity of racking to a secondary will cause some CO2 to escape the solution, but I don't know how much.

I tried to be so meticulous with temperatures and weighing my ingredients, and I still had problems with low and high carbonation. I finally got the kegging equipment and never looked back.

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Old 04-06-2010, 09:19 PM   #10
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kanzimonson there are online tools that will do the calculations for you. just enter the highest temp the beer got to after fermentation, the volume of the beer in the bucket, and how many volumes of CO2 you want. they will spit out the proper amount of sugar by weight. what i have a hard time is measuring the sugar. i always forget to bring my scale with me.

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