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Old 10-20-2007, 02:05 PM   #1
davarm
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Default Why are all my bottles foaming over?

I've had a recurring problem with my last few batches of beer. After being bottled for one month, they have a perfect head and taste excellent. But, after another month, they are excessively carbonated and begin foaming over as soon as I pop the top on the bottle.

I have read the forums and tried to diagnose the problem, but it seems like I'm doing everything right:

  • I don't believe I have contamination problems because the brews actually taste good, after the first month at the very least.
  • Originally, I thought my problem was too high gravity at bottling. The last couple of batches, I have aerated the wort and successfully brought my final gravity down into the lower regions, 1.000 to 1.013. I've done the calculations and determined that I had better than expected attenuation from my yeast.
  • I have followed the 1-2-3 rule, one week primary, two weeks secondary, three or more weeks bottling. The final gravity and clarity in the secondary are usually enough to tell me that I'm not bottling too early.
  • I use approx. 3/4 cups of priming sugar per five gallons, which is normal. I dilute the sugar in water, put the solution in a bottling bucket, and rack the wort on top of it, then stir lightly, so I'm reasonably sure that the bottling sugar is being well distributed.
  • I have at least 1.5" of head room in each bottle.
So, all that being said, I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. This has happened with multiple batches, including wheat, brown ales, etc. Last night, I opened a high gravity double IPA that has been in the bottle for about 1.5 months. So far, every bottle has been excellent, but the one last night foamed over....same old crap, and I was thinking this was my best brew so far. This is starting to get very frustrating.

Any help or recommendations would be well appreciated.
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Old 10-20-2007, 02:16 PM   #2
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Are you conditioning your bottles in the fridge before you open them? I brewed a belgian once and I opened it without refridgerating it and it foamed slowly all over the place for 3 minutes, easy.

I sample my brews weekly while they're in the bottle to get them conditioned to where I want them. Once they're to my liking, I put them all in the fridge. This will stop the carbonation at a level you want it to be at and should stop yours from foaming over.

Hope this helps.

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Old 10-20-2007, 02:45 PM   #3
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The double IPA that I opened last night has been in the fridge for about two weeks. I put others from the same batch in the fridge at the same time, but the didn't foam over. That seems strange.

You bring up a good point and another question. From what you are suggesting, I would have to keep all my bottles in the refrigerator, and since I usually shoot for 5 to 6 cases in stock, I would have to get an additional refrigerator. Ugh!

If my beer is well fermented in the secondary and I add a specific amount of priming sugar, shouldn't the remaining yeast only react with the added priming sugar? I wouldn't expect it to keep fermenting beyond that for the coming weeks.

However, if that is the case, I may have another issue. I live in Florida, where it gets kind of warm. We try to keep our house temp at 78 degrees or lower, and I keep my cases of homebrew in a dark closet, where hopefully the temp is a little less, but probably never less than 75. Would these temps cause continued fermentation and over carbonation.

Another consideration I have made is using the carb tabs instead of priming sugar. I can use the minimal 3 per bottle and have a little better control. I've used these before with varied success.

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Old 10-20-2007, 07:04 PM   #4
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I've had the same problem with a few bottles of various batches.
My understanding is that it's a slight bacterial infection. Presumably, bacteria introduced after fermentation, say at bottling. The acid and alcohol content is high enough that the bacteria cannot get much of a foothold and dies quickly, but not before affecting the bottled beer.
If I recall you say you dissolve priming sugar in water. Do you boil the solution?
If not it's conceiveable that an infection could be introduced via the priming solution.
Just my best guess.
I'll be watching the tread for possible solutions to solve the same problem for myself.

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Old 10-20-2007, 07:15 PM   #5
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Well, two things come to mind right away for me. No, make it three!

1. Make sure your sg is not just within your target range but also stable for at least three days before bottling. (It sounds like you're ok on that).

2. 1.5 inches of headspace seems like too much. You say "at least" 1.5 inches. Mine is about 1.25 inches or LESS, not more. More headspace means more carbonation.

3. I don't go by cups of priming sugar, I weigh mine. I usually use 4 ounces for a 5 gallon batch, and it's plenty of carbonation. I don't know how much that translates to in percentage of cups, but it sure seems like it's less than 3/4 cups. I'm guessing maybe a half cup? If you have a scale, weigh it out and see if that's the problem. Otherwise, I can go dig up a scale and try it for you and see if that's an issue.

It really doesn't sound like a gusher infection or anything like that to me. Sounds like one of the three possiblilities I mentioned.

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Old 10-20-2007, 07:23 PM   #6
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I use 2/3 cup of priming sugar at most.

Some recipes I drop as low as 1/2 cup. I drink my beer at a warmer temp. roughly store at 62 (basement), drink at mid 50's (1/2 hour in fridge).

Solved the same problem at my house.
Hope it helps.

Barry

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Old 10-20-2007, 07:24 PM   #7
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I would have to agree with Yooper......I'm sure you're overpriming with too much sugar.

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Old 10-20-2007, 08:14 PM   #8
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I would weigh the priming sugar too and use less. I would also double check the accuracy of the hydrometer.

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Old 10-20-2007, 10:23 PM   #9
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I agree with Yooper. 4 oz is all you need.

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Old 10-20-2007, 10:26 PM   #10
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Thanks for the great feedback. Do any of you have experience with the Munton's Brew Tabs, or equal? I believe they suggest adding 3 to 5 depending on how much head you desire, so I would probably stick with 3.

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