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Old 07-19-2011, 02:23 AM   #1
dbhynds
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Default Carbonation problem (multiple batches)

Ok, so I'm still fairly new. I got a kit for Christmas, and have done about 6 batches so far. With every batch, I've had had carbonation issues. I've tried tweaking as many variables as I can think of, but each batch comes out seriously under-carbonated. I'll try and provide as much info about my technique as I can.

When I say "under-carbonated," I mean any evidence of carbonation is virtually gone within 2 minutes of the pour. Initially, a few bubbles collect on the sides of the glass, but they soon dissipate. None can be seen rising from within the glass. No head forms whatsoever.

I always use 2/3c corn sugar to prime. I add it to my bottling bucket, stir it, and let it sit for an hour or so (so everything can settle again) before bottling. Then I let them condition for 2+ weeks (up to two months) at 68-72 degrees. Two months is hardly more carbonated than two weeks.

As far as style, it's varied some, but they've all been light-medium colored ales with OGs at 1.050 +/-0.005. I've mostly done pale ales, although I did one English bitter and a Belgian Wit.

I thought that perhaps my issue was my bottles. I had been using the plastic bottles with screw-tops that came with the kit (cos it said they were reusable). I finally got fed up and bought a capper. This was my first batch using it. It's only been priming for 2 weeks, but the results so far are nearly identical to my previous batches. (And, I'm positive that I got a good seal on them).

As far as fermenting times, I've let them all go for 10-14 days in my primary. I just recently got a secondary, so this last batch, I let sit in the secondary for about two months.

With the exception of batch #1, every single batch has turned out this way, and I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. Any help would be greatly appreciated. The flavor is great, but I don't feel I can fully brag to my friends about my beer until this is corrected.

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Old 07-19-2011, 02:29 AM   #2
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First, most of us who batch prime pour the sugar water in while the beer is being racked, and let the natural swirling motion do the mixing. Second, maybe the plastic bottles were the problem and you just have to wait another week or two on your current batch. (edit: 2 months in secondary is also long, and while I'm not sure you should have pitched fresh yeast at bottling, it may be that this batch will be slow to carb.)

In truth, I wouldn't guess either of these are the issue, but I don't know what else. Beer not holding a head could be dirty glasses or weak brew with low protein. But it doesn't feel carbed on the tongue?

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Old 07-19-2011, 09:56 AM   #3
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How long do you chill them ?

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Old 07-19-2011, 11:16 AM   #4
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You stated that you poured the sugar into the fermenter but how did you prepare it? Did you boil it with water to make a solution? Or did you just dump the sugar right in? A good practice is to boil the sugar in water and pour it into the fermenter. Then rack the beer on top of it to mix the sugar in. I generally give the beer a gentle stir after doing this.

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Old 07-19-2011, 11:47 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbhynds View Post

I always use 2/3c corn sugar to prime. I add it to my bottling bucket, stir it, and let it sit for an hour or so (so everything can settle again) before bottling. Then I let them condition for 2+ weeks (up to two months) at 68-72 degrees. Two months is hardly more carbonated than two weeks.
Can you get a little scale? It really makes a difference- 2/3 cup of sugar could be different depending on the grains and how tightly "packed" it is. 5 ounces (1 ounce per gallon) per weight is far more accurate.

Don't let it sit an hour or so. Rack the beer, bottle it, and cap. Any fermentation that starts once the sugar is added needs to happen in the bottle. You don't need to "let it settle" as you don't want the sugar mixture to fall to the bottom as it is heavier than the beer.

Boil the priming solution, add it to your bottling bucket, rack the beer into it with the end of the tubing laying in a circular pattern on the bottom of the bucket. Rack, and the beer will swirl into the bucket to mix. Then lift the bucket to your bottling place and fill the bottles, cap. You should be done in less than 20 minutes.
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Old 07-19-2011, 12:40 PM   #6
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Thanks for the feedback everyone. Regarding my addition of priming sugar, I measured 2/3c in a measuring cup, added it to 1c boiling water to make a simple syrup. I let the cool, then stirred it (well) into my secondary, from which I bottled it. After letting them sit for a while, I refrigerated them for at least 24 hours (up to a couple weeks). That is excepting this most recent batch. I guess it was only in the fridge for about 12 hours.

I can feel minimal carbonation on my tongue, but I can also see a tiny bit in the class when it's first poured.

What's interesting is that all the batches seem to have the same consistently similar levels of carbonation. I suspect that my issue is the amount of sugar I'm putting in. The kits I've used suggest 2/3 c, but I'm going to start measuring like Yooper. I've got a digital scale that I can use. I'll also try the recommended mixing technique with a bottling bucket.

Thanks for all the feedback, y'all! It'll be a few weeks before I get to experiment more, but I'll let ya know how it goes!

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Old 07-19-2011, 12:49 PM   #7
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Thanks for the feedback everyone. Regarding my addition of priming sugar, I measured 2/3c in a measuring cup, added it to 1c boiling water to make a simple syrup. I let the cool, then stirred it (well) into my secondary, from which I bottled it.
I suspect that is the issue. First, I understand letting it settle now! But then the heavier syrup will also "settle". Secondly, you're defeating the whole purpose of a secondary by restirring up the trub.

Rack it OUT of the secondary (or any fermenter) when you bottle. The priming sugar will be better mixed via racking and bottling with a bottling bucket.
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Old 07-19-2011, 01:01 PM   #8
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Also,try using this priming calculator;http://www.brewheads.com/priming.php. I add it to 2C of boiling water,& stir till clear again. cool & add to the beer swirling in the bottling bucket.
And those cooper's PET bottle caps need to be screwed down brutally tight to seal well. And seal well they will,since cooper's say they put a co2/o2 barrier coating on the inside of the bottles. found out with my son that they need to be screwed down another half turn or so after we primed/filled the bottles & capped. Go back around the bottles again & give'em that extra part of a turn. Works just fine. And do not use brushes or hot water on the PET bottles. It'll mess them up,just like plastic fermenters. Only hot water can melt them or disfigure them. Just use PBW on them,then star-san,& you'll be fine. And,by the way,they don't work on the vinator as is. A member on the cooper's forums showed a neat solution he came up with. Take a plastic coke bottle cap,& drill/use dremel with router bit to cut a hole in the center of the cap. Just so it'll go all the way down to the 1st step on the vinitor's pump stalk. The part that regular bottles push against. You now have a PET bottle adapter. He also drilled small holes around the one in the center to allow drainage. I'm gunna have to make one. Simple solution.
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