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Old 04-30-2011, 02:46 AM   #1
Amatxbrew
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Default Getting beers to carbonate

I'm very new at brewing, I'm just now getting a taste of my third batch(amber ale) and the beer is great! The only problem is that it didn't carbonate to the point that I would have liked. I only used a primary fermenter and when I was ready to bottle I put the priming sugar in the secondary fermenter that came with my kit and added the beer on to the top of the priming sugar. I was afraid that the sugar would not disperse completely though out the beer and I'm afraid that is what happened.

I'm thinking that I am just not using the correct technique and after countless hours of googleing I felt this may be much more productive. Any help would be appreciated.

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Old 04-30-2011, 02:48 AM   #2
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I'm very new at brewing, I'm just now getting a taste of my third batch(amber ale) and the beer is great! The only problem is that it didn't carbonate to the point that I would have liked. I only used a primary fermenter and when I was ready to bottle I put the priming sugar in the secondary fermenter that came with my kit and added the beer on to the top of the priming sugar. I was afraid that the sugar would not disperse completely though out the beer and I'm afraid that is what happened.

I'm thinking that I am just not using the correct technique and after countless hours of googleing I felt this may be much more productive. Any help would be appreciated.
Usually, that technique works just fine. I assume in Tx that you're keeping the bottles at 70 degrees or above (since you've had a heat wave!) but my first intinct is to ask if the beers have been kept in an area of at least 70 degrees or higher for at least three weeks.
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Old 04-30-2011, 02:52 AM   #3
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Make a simple syrup by boiling equal parts sugar and water. Cool that to room temperature. Being transferring your beer to the bottling bucket. Angle the hose so that the beer creates a bit of a whirlpool. Careful not to aerate the wort, just get a gentle swirl going. Once 1/4 of the beer has transferred add half the syrup... Once half of the beer has transferred add the rest. If you want you can stir it up a bit at the end just use a sanitized spoon and stir very gently as to not aerate the beer.

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Old 04-30-2011, 03:09 AM   #4
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The 3 weeks at 70 degrees, that we recommend is the minimum time it takes for average gravity beers to carbonate and condition. Higher grav beers take longer.

Stouts and porters have taken me between 6 and 8 weeks to carb up..I have a 1.090 Belgian strong that took three months to carb up.

Temp and gravity are the two factors that contribute to the time it takes to carb beer. But if a beer's not ready yet, or seems low carbed, and you added the right amount of sugar to it, then it's not stalled, it's just not time yet.

Everything you need to know about carbing and conditioning, can be found here Of Patience and Bottle Conditioning. With emphasis on the word, "patience."

If a beer isn't carbed by "x number of weeks" you just have to give them more time. If you added your sugar, then the beer will carb up eventually, it's really a foolroof process. All beers will carb up eventually. A lot of new brewers think they have to "troubleshoot" a bottling issue, when there really is none, the beer knows how to carb itself. In fact if you run beersmiths carbing calculator, some lower grav beers don't even require additional sugar to reach their minimum level of carbonation. Just time.

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Old 04-30-2011, 03:12 AM   #5
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I'm confused on one point...You say you transferred from primary to secondary on top of the priming solution...what about a bottling bucket? Also, how long have the beers been conditioning/carbonating? I average 4 weeks at 72 for a good carbonation. I know a lot of writing out there says 2 weeks, but I have yet (20 brews) had a beer carbonate properly in 2 weeks. Also, most beers I've made hit there taste peak at around the 4-8 week period.

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Old 04-30-2011, 04:29 AM   #6
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I was afraid that the sugar would not disperse completely though out the beer and I'm afraid that is what happened.
I've heard some (majority) people say that racking on top of a syrup as described above works great. I've also heard some people say they get inconsistent carbonation (ie some bottles have a ton, some have little). For me, unfortunately, I get inconsistent carbonation. I even had a batch where I had a couple bottle bombs while half of them were near perfectly flat.

What I do now when bottling is boil the sugar with a little bit of water to sanitize it, then put it in the bottling bucket and rack onto it. Then, I take my (sanitized) stirring stick and slowly stir the solution.

You have to be very careful not to introduce oxygen to the beer. I just carefuly stir it slowly a couple times. About 4 out of my first 6 batches were inconsistent when I didn't do this, and now with just slight stirring I haven't had problems since.

I believe that some people don't experience this problem. But I do.
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Old 04-30-2011, 01:43 PM   #7
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You'll find that most folks who have "inconsistant" carbonation when we pursue it further it turns out they're opening their bottles too soon. It's quite easy to blame or assume it's because of something, rather than the truth.

I personally believe the whole "priming sugar didn't get mixed" argument is BS, if you put the sugar solution in the bottom of the bucket and racked your beer, then it couldn't help but be mixed. You're putting 2 tiny cups of liguid into a vessel and dumping 5 gallons into it and the beer is rising as it fills the bucket...believe me, it is mixing.

Most of the time when a beer is acting weired, it's just that it's not fully carbed yet. And if you're below 70, or were below 70 for any period of time during the 3weeks, then the beer hasn't fully carbed yet.

Inconsistant carbonation, simply means that they are not ready yet. If you had opened them a week later, or even two, you never would have noticed. Each one is it's own little microcosm, and although generally the should come up at the same time, it's not an automatic switch, and they all pop on.



A tiny difference in temps between bottles in storage can affect the yeasties, speed them up or slow them down. Like if you store them in a closet against a warm wall, the beers closest to the heat source may be a tad warmer than those further way, so thy may carb/condition at slightly different rates. I usually store a batch in 2 seperate locations in my loft 1 case in my bedroom which is a little warmer, and the other in the closet in the lving room, which being in a larger space is a tad cooler, at least according to the thermostat next to that closet. It can be 5-10 degrees warmer in my bedroom. So I usually start with that case at three weeks. Giving the other half a little more time.

Bottom line, it's not that the sugar's not mixed, it's just that they all haven't come up to full carb yet....Three weeks is not the magic number for finality, it's the minimum time it takes....

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Old 04-30-2011, 01:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revvy
You'll find that most folks who have "inconsistant" carbonation when we pursue it further it turns out they're opening their bottles too soon. It's quite easy to blame or assume it's because of something, rather than the truth.

Most of the time when a beer is acting weired, it's just that it's not fully carbed yet. And if you're below 70, or were below 70 for any period of time during the 3weeks, then the beer hasn't fully carbed yet.

Bottom line, it's not that the sugar's not mixed, it's just that they all haven't come up to full carb yet....Three weeks is not the magic number for finality, it's the minimum time it takes....
I don't know revvy... I brewed Samuel Smiths Oatmeal stout and used steeped coffee grounds in the secondary for 24 hours before bottling and my carb levels were tweaked really bad. Some bottles were perfect after 3 weeks and others NEVER carbed. Literally 4 months later they were dead. I could shake them vigorously and get a tiny carb level, pour them sloppy and get a little head maybe 1/4 at best.
The first 12-20 bottles were good the others were dead. Btw sanitation wasn't an issue!
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Old 04-30-2011, 01:55 PM   #9
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More likely it was the oils from the coffee grounds affecting it somehow, then priming surgar not mixing. You just said you added the coffe grounds 24 hours before bottling, you don't think THAT could have affected it?

Under normal circumstances, if you add sugar to your bucket (or prime tabs to your bottles) the yeast will find the sugar, and given enough time and at the right temps, your beers will carb. Which is the case for most of the "my beer's not carbed" situations on here.

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Old 04-30-2011, 03:27 PM   #10
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More likely it was the oils from the coffee grounds affecting it somehow, then priming surgar not mixing. You just said you added the coffe grounds 24 hours before bottling, you don't think THAT could have affected it?
The coffee oatmeal stout was my most recent example. I couldn't find any info on how coffee grounds affected carb levels. My first thought was the coffee affected the carb levels but how does that explain the first 20 or so bottles coming out fine?

In the end, the beer tasted AMAZING but the uncarbed bottles ticked me off and it drove me to kegging so no more inconsistency!
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