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Old 10-13-2011, 09:41 PM   #1
olharris
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Default Can you re-carbonate beer that didn't carbonate well in bottles?

Hello all,
Its been about four weeks since I bottled, and my beer is still very flat. There's a slight pop when you open up the bottle, but when poured there's no head and the beer tastes a bit sweet. I am wondering if it is possible to recarbonate the beer in any way. I was thinking about emptying all the bottles back into the bottling bucket, pitching a small amount of yeast and then re-bottling, or maybe added more priming sugar and then rebottling, but I don't want any bottle-bombs on my hands. I also don't want to change the flavor too much, since it tastes really good as is (minus the sweetness).

Are carbonation tablets my best shot? Has anyone reversed this curse in the past? Any links / other threads I may have missed?

Thanks everyone!

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Old 10-14-2011, 12:00 AM   #2
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I did it on only my third Homebrew. I made a sugar syrup instead of a solution and it didn't Carb right. So I uncaped all the beer and put into the bottle bucket and siphoned it into a keg 2 weeks later wala tasty beer

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Old 10-14-2011, 12:13 AM   #3
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If you empty the beers back into a bottling bucket you will oxydize the hell out of your beers and ruin them....People who think they need to "dump their beer" back in to something don't seem to get that the beer will be falling through the AIR and fermented beer + Oxygen = liquid cardboard.

If you added the right amount of sugar at bottling time, AND the beer is above 70 degrees it WILL carb up just fine given time.


The 3 weeks at 70 degrees, that we recommend is the minimum time it takes for average gravity beers to carbonate and condition. Higher grav beers take longer.

Stouts and porters have taken me between 6 and 8 weeks to carb up..I have a 1.090 Belgian strong that took three months to carb up.


Temp and gravity are the two factors that contribute to the time it takes to carb beer. But if a beer's not ready yet, or seems low carbed, and you added the right amount of sugar to it, then it's not stalled, it's just not time yet.

Everything you need to know about carbing and conditioning, can be found here Of Patience and Bottle Conditioning. With emphasis on the word, "patience."

Lazy Llama came up with a handy dandy chart to determine how long something takes in brewing, whether it's fermentation, carbonation, bottle conditioning....



If a beer isn't carbed by "x number of weeks" you just have to give them more time. If you added your sugar, then the beer will carb up eventually, it's really a foolroof process. All beers will carb up eventually. A lot of new brewers think they have to "troubleshoot" a bottling issue, when there really is none, the beer knows how to carb itself. In fact if you run beersmiths carbing calculator, some lower grav beers don't even require additional sugar to reach their minimum level of carbonation. Just time.

If you try to fix them, like adding more sugar, you will more than likely ruin them, you'll get bottle bombs...give them more time, and eveything will be fine.

Stick them in a warm place and come back in a couple more weeks to post that all is fine.

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Old 10-14-2011, 04:59 PM   #4
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If you empty the beers back into a bottling bucket you will oxydize the hell out of your beers and ruin them
you can oxidize them this way, not necessarily will, if you are careful. and sometimes bottles just wont carbonate no matter how long you leave it due to dead yeast (although i agree, the majority of the threads on this subject are due to impatience, and with more time most of the beers will go on to carbonate fully).

but i recently had a barleywine that wouldnt carbonate due to dead yeast. it was 4+ months and still no carbonation. the ABV was borderline too high for the main fermentation to finish, let alone expecting the yeast to carbonate a bottle too.

i took a keg, CO2 purged it, laid it down on its side so the beer only had an inch to drop, and opened each bottle and very very carefully poured it into the keg. try to keep the distance the beer falls as short as possible. try to avoid splashing at all costs. as the keg fills up to the point where it almost starts coming out, tilt the top end of the keg up slightly and continue. its not a bad idea to hook your CO2 up to the keg and let it trickle out at 1psi or something as a shielding gas.

if you do it very slowly and very carefully it can be done. i would give your bottles atleast 2 to 3 full months before you determine that they definately wont carb on their own. also remember that after the bottles have carbonated, they need to be refrigerated for at least 3 days or so for the CO2 to dissolve into the beer. if you are just throwing them in the fridge for a few hours till they get cold, that isnt long enough.
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Old 10-17-2011, 12:58 PM   #5
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I appreciate all the comments folks!

Looking back on bottling day, I think there were two things I did that may have contributed to an error on my part, and I'm not ruling out that I haven't waiting long enough. I want to outline what I did that might have contributed to a lack of carbonation:

1. Rather than using a pre-measured 5 oz serving of priming sugar, I used a dial scale and measured out what my eye-ball told me was 5 oz. Could have been a lot less, those damn scales are so imprecise (need to invest in digital to eliminate human error). So while I think I added the 'correct amount' of sugar, its completely possible I only added 3 oz and made an error reading the scale. I was also brewing an imperial ipa with a calculated OG of 1.105 (i broke my hydrometer in the previous brew session), so I imagine it is also possible that even if I added 5oz of priming sugar it wasn't enough to fully carb the beer.

2.Another error I made, and this is why i suspect the dead yeast scenario, is that after boiling the sugar water for 10 minutes, I did not leave much time for it to cool before I added it in. There is no way the temp got below 120 degF, so I suspect that my laziness/impatience resulted in the hot sugar water killing many of the yeast, and therefore ruining the chance of full carbonation.

So I think one or both of these scenarios could have led to incomplete carbonation, and at the same time it has been only 5 weeks since bottling, so they probably do still need more time since its a high OG brew.


So here's my revised question to the experts: Given the above potential errors, what can I do to ENSURE that my beer will carb correctly. I understand that waiting could fix the 'problem', but I don't want to wait too long and miss an opportunity to correct the problem. Also, since its an IPA, i'm losing out on freshness every day it sits in the bottle, right?

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Old 10-17-2011, 01:15 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by olharris View Post
2.Another error I made, and this is why i suspect the dead yeast scenario, is that after boiling the sugar water for 10 minutes, I did not leave much time for it to cool before I added it in. There is no way the temp got below 120 degF, so I suspect that my laziness/impatience resulted in the hot sugar water killing many of the yeast, and therefore ruining the chance of full carbonation.
Although a lot of new brewers think this can happen, it really can't. You really believe that dumping 5 gallons of cooler liquid onto 2 cups of boiling or near boiling water is really going to kill the millions of yeast cells floating around in the beer? You really think that that little 2 cups of liquid is still going to be hot enough to do harm as the entire 5 gallons of liquid dillutes it?

No.

First, the mere falling through the air into the bottom of your bottling bucket cools the solution. Then it makes contact with any sanitizer in the bottom of the bottling bucket (in my case a lot of starsan bubbles) THEN within seconds you have gallons of cool liquid dumping right on top of it. It's a physical impossibility that the temperature of that little bit of solution is going to hot that long. There's millions of yeast cells swimming around in your 5 gallons of liquid, from the top of the fermenter- most of it wouldn't even make contact with the priming solution while it was hot.

I can't really comment on the scale issue, I'd have to have seen what your pile of priming sugar looked like on your scale, but I still maintain that patience is the issue.

Seriously, we get this 5-6 times a day. And 99.9% of the time the poster comes back in a couple weeks to say the beer is carbed fine now. Like I said above, I've had beer even take months to carb up.

I would honestly give it a couple more weeks, to make sure that all the sugar indeed had been consumed by the yeast, BEFORE you contemplate added some coopers drops to the bottles. You don't want it to swing to the opposite do you and have 2 cases of bottle bombs, do you?

I would give each bottle a nice swirl to re-suspend the yeast, place them in a warmer place than they are now, and check back in 2 more weeks.

But rule out the "too hot priming sugar" idea, that really is nonsense. I dump my boiling or near boiling priming solution into by bucket and rack on top all the time......I've never killed off my yeasties yet.
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Old 10-18-2011, 03:39 PM   #7
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@revvy I'm not convinced about your liquid cardboard theory the beer tasted fine. I would open the bottles and slowly pour them into the bucket and siphon it into the keg.

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Old 11-02-2011, 03:40 AM   #8
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Revvy has literally posted the same reply I think 5 times today and at least 100 times in the past 3 months. Every single time he is right. Show a little patience and give the yeast time to do its thing. When you can accept the idea that beer will be ready when it's ready, you'll be amazed at how much better your beer is coming out of the bottle.

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Old 11-23-2011, 07:50 PM   #9
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You guys are crazy mine carbonated in a week just fine to where it makes a nice head and great taste you wait your 3 months, lol

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Old 11-23-2011, 09:04 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by danaman117
You guys are crazy mine carbonated in a week just fine to where it makes a nice head and great taste you wait your 3 months, lol
Great thing about home-brewing is you can do whatever you want. And I just posted elsewhere that almost all my beers have been fully carbed in a week. However, I'd also say that patience really is key. I am too excited about my beers not to pop one after a week. But once I'm sure it's good, I let the rest sit... And they get better and better with time to mature. I guess it's the difference between "they're good enough" and "how good will they be at their peak?". Early on, when I had no pipeline, I rarely waited to find out. Now I have cases of my own beers stacked up, and I can't believe how much better some have become!

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