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Old 06-20-2012, 12:34 PM   #1
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Default carbonation problems

Hi everyone, thanks for taking the time to read this. I'm having an ongoing issue with carbonation and stubbornly haven't sought much help sooner. In a nutshell, my 5th batch of extract brew is in the secondary now. My first batch was one of the best beers I've had and the next 3, well they weren't even close, even tho one was the same kit as the first. I believe the one in the secondary isn't going to be any better. The flavor has been good on the following batches but a nearly straight down the middle pour yields about 1/4" of head.
The known differences btwn batch 1 and the following 4 are:
1. First batch of wort boiled ended up 2 gals so I put 3 gals of reverse osmosis water, straight from bottle, from a local water bottler. Perhaps it was better oxyginated as a result?
2. Used different sanitizer and rinsed it as well. First batch used carlson(?) And I rinsed it off. Following batches I used starsan and didn't rinse.
3. In my first batch I made another beginner mistake and put the priming sugar
in the secondary. Realized my mistake and left it in the secondary an extra week to release excess carbonation so the bottles didn't explode.
4. First batch was made entirely with bottled water and following batches all used at least partially (I know) softened tap water.Basically in the first batch I made a ton of mistakes that I didn't make for the followiing batches and still came out with better beer.
My local brew shop leaned toward my problems being from either lack of oxygen(which I don't believe for batches 3-5) or the softened water.
Any thoughts would be appreciated!

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Old 06-20-2012, 04:06 PM   #2
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As long as you add around 4 oz of corn sugar at bottling and wait 3-4 weeks, you should be carbed (unless you are brewing high-gravity beers). What are the styles you are having problems with? What have their OG's been?

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Old 06-20-2012, 04:10 PM   #3
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What specialty malts are you using in your brews? Things like caramel malts and wheat can aid in head retention and formation.

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Old 06-20-2012, 04:20 PM   #4
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I used 3/4 cup of priming sugar in each batch. The brews have been: pale ale, wheat ale, pale ale, mild ale, and in the secondary right now rye ipa. Another thing about the OG, I never got with in .008 of the OG the kit said it would reach. Not sure what the speciality grains were since they were lumped together in the kit.

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Old 06-20-2012, 05:56 PM   #5
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But how high are the gravities? Have they been above or below 1.070?

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Old 06-20-2012, 06:12 PM   #6
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No, the highest of the thee batches iv tasted (after 3+ weeks in bottles) was 1.052

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Old 06-20-2012, 06:17 PM   #7
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If we are talking bottle carbonation, do you get the hiss when you open a bottle, or is it absolutely flat?

What temperature are you storing the bottles at, and for how long, before you open them?

If the issue isn't carbonation, but head retention, it's time to look at recipe and glassware issues.

Edit - secondary has zero - repeat, ZERO - to do with carbonation. There is no way for you to consider a batch in secondary and have any idea if you will have a carb problem from it.

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Old 06-20-2012, 06:40 PM   #8
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The primary and seconday are held at appx 72 degrees in my 62-63 degree basement with a brew belt. The bottles are also stored in the basement at 63 degrees for no less than 3 weeks. Some bottles are still unrefrigerated and have been held at 63 for 3+months. There is a hiss and a slight carbonation taste in all batches. But not nearly enough. Often after pouring and sitting for a minute or 2 there seems to be slightly foamed formations on top. My LHBS suggested they were protiens. The reciepe (I would think) should be good since it is a kit that has turned out well in the past. Thanks for the help!

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Old 06-20-2012, 06:52 PM   #9
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Also, I think I'm ok on glassware, using english pint glasses and pilsner glases.

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Old 06-20-2012, 06:53 PM   #10
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The primary and seconday are held at appx 72 degrees in my 62-63 degree basement with a brew belt. The bottles are also stored in the basement at 63 degrees for no less than 3 weeks. Some bottles are still unrefrigerated and have been held at 63 for 3+months. There is a hiss and a slight carbonation taste in all batches. But not nearly enough. Often after pouring and sitting for a minute or 2 there seems to be slightly foamed formations on top. My LHBS suggested they were protiens. The reciepe (I would think) should be good since it is a kit that has turned out well in the past. Thanks for the help!
Three weeks at 70 degrees is the baseline for normal gravity beers. Higher gravity or lower temps can make the process longer.

As for foam... do you use dish detergent on your glasses? This can kill foam.
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Lagering: Swarthy Satyr (traditional bock)
Bottled: Royal Goblin (Hoppy Hobgoblin rendition), Treasure Type "T" (oatmeal toffee stout), Enchantress (big Irish red ale), Frostfire (Oktoberfest), Thundersmoke brown ale
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