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Old 03-17-2010, 08:20 PM   #1
homebrewpey
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Default Issues with Bottle Conditioning and Carbonation

I've been brewing for about two years and have made over 50 batches, but have recently ran into an issue I cannot solve on my own with deductive reasoning. For reasons I'm not completely sure, the bottle conditioning process I have been using for quite some time is not carbonating my beer sufficiently, even after six weeks of being in the bottle. My last four batches over the last twelve weeks have come out really flat.

Other notables:

1. Temp is always 65-70
2. I secondary fermented my beers and there is VERY little sediment
3. Batches were AG only and partial mashes
4. I used about four oz priming sugar per five gallon volume
5. I don't normally secondary ferment, but have done so in the past without these same issues
6. Fermentation times were normal, in the 3-5 day range
7. Beer never dropped below 60 degrees during the whole process

I feel the problem must stem from one (or more) of these:

1. Not enough priming sugar
2. Not enough pitching yeast
3. Too proficient at clarifying beer with syphon and secondary fermentation
4. Too low of temperature bottle conditioning temperature

My questions:

1. Despite very, very little carbonation, if I wait a few more months, will it continue to carbonate?
2. Could it be possible I "filtered" too many yeast out of the batch, leading to my eventual lack of carbonation?
3. If #2 is true, is there anything I can do to fix it at this point?

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Old 03-17-2010, 08:33 PM   #2
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Hope you get some answers. I have a batch of red that is 3 weeks in the bottle and it's almost flat. A batch brewed a week later and stored in the same place is WAY ahead of it in terms of carb.

I am begining to thing I forgot the priming sugar, but I don't think I would have done that.

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Old 03-17-2010, 08:39 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. It's funny because I've never had troubles before, which makes me believe it is either the weather or the fact I've been a little too careful with allowing sediment into the bottles and I'm always extremely careful to use the correct amount of priming sugar.

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Old 03-17-2010, 09:15 PM   #4
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I don't think you would have removed enough yeast by siphoning only. Sediment in the bottles during bottling shouldn't be a factor as there should still be plenty of yeast in suspension at that temp.

Sorry that doesn't answer your question but I was eliminate #3 as a possibility "Too proficient at clarifying beer with syphon and secondary fermentation"

Unless you cold crashed or used gelatin I don't think you would have removed enough yeast from suspension to hinder your bottle carbing. I have done both of those methods and still bottle carbed successfully.

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Old 03-17-2010, 09:21 PM   #5
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I really appreciate that response. It definitely leaves me a little more puzzled, but it's comforting to know syphoning alone cannot remove enough yeast to blunt the carbonation process.

This leads me to believe the bottles will carbonate in time, but just may take longer to get there. Thanks for your $0.02.

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Old 03-17-2010, 09:29 PM   #6
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Are you fermenting with fresh yeast vs. washed? And what are you using to cap? Type of bottles??... although my guess here they would be completely flat if there was something wrong.

Priming sugar not mixing well enough, do some carb better than others? Are you boiling and adding the sugar to the boiling water... granted I am guessing after 50 batches you would be doing this too.

Bottle cleaning procedure? What are you using to sanitize?

How long did you secondary? And what type of beer are these?

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Old 03-17-2010, 09:37 PM   #7
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All good questions.

-I'm using Wyeast smack packs (1028 and 1056).
-12 oz and 22 oz brown bottles
-All currently contain about the same level of carbonation in each bottle post-bottle conditioning
-Cleaning very thoroughly with bleach/cold water, then very hot water rinse x2
-All beers in the primary for one week, in secondary for one week

Beer 1: Cappuccino stout with 1028
Beer 2: Ahtanum IPA with 1056 (OG 1.066, FG 1.010)
Beer 3: Northwest pale with 1056 (OG 1.060, FG 1.015)
Beer 4: Irish red with 1028 (OG 1.060, FG 1.017)

After brewing for two years, I can confirm the methods I'm using for sanitation and priming, bottling have not changed and I don't think they are an issue. However, I am fairly new to the world of secondary fermenting, so I'm not certain if that's where the answer potentially lies...

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Last edited by homebrewpey; 03-17-2010 at 09:38 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 03-18-2010, 04:53 AM   #8
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I have also brewed and bottled 50+batches in my first 2 years of brewing. I have never had a flat beer but some have had less fizz than I'd hoped for. I never had a bottle bomb so lately I increased my bottling sugar to 4.3 oz per batch and so far I'm pleased with the increased fizz and still no bottle bombs yet..

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Old 03-18-2010, 11:09 AM   #9
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I assume you're using similar sanitation procedures for your racking cane and secondary vessel when you transfer. If you didn't quite get all the sanitizer out of the secondary, there could be some funky flavors so if your beer tastes fine other than it being flat this probably wouldn't be the answer. I would check your capping device for wear or deterioration that could affect the seal you achieve. You could purchase a new capping device and when you bottle your next batch use the old and the new on a couple bottles and mark them so you can tell.

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Old 03-18-2010, 04:13 PM   #10
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kemmee, this is an excellent point! I never considered the capper could be the potential problem.

Since my beers otherwise taste really good but lack sufficient carbonation, it is entirely plausible my capper could be to blame for this situation. Thank you very much for your input.

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