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Old 05-20-2008, 03:02 PM   #1
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Default My bottles just won't carb...

I'm beginning to think that there's an anti-carb aura in my house.

My first brew was a porter, extract with steeping grains. Barely carbed but I thought it might be because I screwed up elsewhere (didn't boil long enough)

My second was a raspberry wheat, extract with raspberry flavoring. It was moderately carbed but with no head retention, and the bottles' carbonation quickly declined as time went on. I thought it could be because it was an extract, who knows.

I brewed a hard cider that went the way of bathtub hooch at 10.5%. It didn't carb at all. I thought it was either because I left it on the yeast too long (2+ months I think, this was during my 'oh yeah I should brew again... next week' phase that lasted 6 months) or because it was so high in alcohol.

So, each of these on their own seem like they have a good excuse, but when added up... I bottled my alt two weeks ago, and hoped that as it was a partial mash it'd be better. But, two weeks in, there's a bit of carbonation feel on my tongue but still no real carbonation to speak of.

Let me take a break at this point to say, I know: 21 days @ 70 degrees. My house is actually probably 65ish (Buffalo needs to warm the eff up), but while I'm not expecting it to be perfect yet, given my history -- and that I'm going to be bottling my first AG in two weeks that I'm very happy with and don't want to screw up now -- I'd like to figure out what the hell I'm doing wrong. Like I said to Soperbrew in chat, I know I can buy carb tablets but this doesn't seem like a complicated concept, you know? Here is my method (I've already spotted one potential error thanks to Soper, but just to be sure I wanted to get everyone's opinion):

- Boil a pint of water
- Add priming sugar, stir (pre-measured by LHBS, they've all been kits thus far)
- Dump into bottling bucket
- Rack the beer onto it quietly, using that magic tool the autosiphon
- Bottle using a wand, stirring periodically

I did forget to stir for my raspberry wheat, which I thought might be a problem, but I didn't get any bottle bombs.

Now, when Soper was walking me through what to do he said 'you boil the sugar, cool and dump it in right?' and I responded 'No, I don't cool... son of a bitch, I'm killing my yeast, aren't I?' I wanted to make sure it was still mixed together when I racked my beer onto it... so I may have shocked them into not working for me.

I also admit that I didn't put them in the fridge for as long as is recommended; for the alt, I've only chilled them for about 2-3 hours before opening (one at one week, one at two). I know this will also help carbonation, but there wasn't a big hiss that said there was undissolved CO2 hanging around at the top.

So, I know, there are things I can do better (though in my defense, I did just figure out the scalding hot priming solution part 15 minutes ago). it's just frustrating when I've yet to have a beer I'm really satisfied with, and having this mostly be due to something as easy as bottle conditioning. So, while I think I know what I've done wrong now, does anyone have any other idea what I could do better?

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Old 05-20-2008, 03:06 PM   #2
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Are you using twist top bottles? Temps, yeast viability, and quantity of priming sugar are the biggest variables.

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Old 05-20-2008, 03:11 PM   #3
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Sig...I'd weigh the priming sugar and find out how much they are giving you. I only let my sugar mix cool a little bit, and I've never had a problem.

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Old 05-20-2008, 03:12 PM   #4
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There's a big difference between 65 and 70 degrees when it comes to carbonation.

I'd recon that for every degree below 70, you can add 2-3 extra days to the 21 days you normally need.

Find the warmest spot in the house. Park those beers for two weeks. Give those cases a slight rocking to rouse the yeast once a day.

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Old 05-20-2008, 03:15 PM   #5
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Biermuncher pretty much said it...

You can gently roll the bottles back and forth on a table a couple times to re-rouse your yeast....and if you can't find a 70 degree place, you could conver your bottle boxes with a thermal blanket.

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Old 05-20-2008, 03:16 PM   #6
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Find the warmest spot in the house. Park those beers for two weeks. Give those cases a slight rocking to rouse the yeast once a day.
+1 to moving your bottles some place warm. I had the same problem with a cream stout I brewed. I moved them from my front coat closet to the laundry room (gets pretty warm when I run the washer and dryer at the same time), and gently agitated them once a day for about 2 weeks. They carbed right up.
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Old 05-20-2008, 03:22 PM   #7
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cheezy, sorry I forgot that part. I've used a mix of bottles and flip top growlers, but no twist offs or anything like that.

Bier et al: My house is annoying in that it's always either colder or hotter than it is outside, but never in the way I want. I have an unused bedroom right now that's probably getting heat (I'm actually cleaning it out a bit tonight), so maybe I'll put them in there. I'll also try agitating them some (tell them their parents' divorce was their fault, etc).

I've started this reply three times but you all keep commenting too fast. It's why HBT is so awesome... thanks!

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Old 05-20-2008, 03:26 PM   #8
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If you have a closet AND you have your bottles store in boxes, so they're light tight you could always stick a string of christmas lights, or a small lamp, or even rig up a socket and low watt bulb in the closet to warm the area up a bit....You could even cover it with your bottling bucket to further block out the light.

Just like how they keep chicken warm...

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Old 05-20-2008, 03:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Biermuncher pretty much said it...

You can gently roll the bottles back and forth on a table a couple times to re-rouse your yeast....and if you can't find a 70 degree place, you could conver your bottle boxes with a thermal blanket.
Yep.
My first batch took about 1 month to get good carb as my home temp is usually around 65 in the cool/cold seasons.
It sure helps to cover with blanket and move near a vent or warm spot...also rocking them a bit too.

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Old 05-20-2008, 03:45 PM   #10
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It sounds like your procedure is fine, so I'd with weighing/measuring your priming sugar next time, just to see how much you're using. Now, I use 4 ounces usually, but sometimes use 5, and the 5 ounce ones are overcarbed to my taste.

Chilling longer DOES make a big difference, but usually you still get the "pffft" when you open, and sometimes a gush if it's not cooled long enough.

Are you using a particularly flocculant yeast? Maybe the yeast is falling to the bottom of the bottles without doing their job. Have you used the same yeast strain in each batch?

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