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Old 08-27-2012, 06:06 AM   #1
nylonoxygen77
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Default Help me understand this carbonation issue please!

Hi there! I am a new extract home brewer, started this year. I am on my fifth batch. This post is about my last batch, which is a Honey Brown ale. The recipe is from iBrewmaster, which is an excellent app. Here's the recipe, slightly modified from their recipe.
5 gallon batch
specialty grains
0.25 lbs Chocolate malt
0.25 lbs special b
0.25 lbs biscuit
0.25 lbs special roast
fermentables
7 lbs Gold Malt syrup
2 lbs Honey
hops
1.0 oz cluster 60 min
0.5 oz fuggles 0 min
yeast
Wyeast 1056 American Ale (yeast cake from prior batch)
carbonation
primed with 8 oz raw honey

OG: 1.072
FG: 1.009

fermentation temperature: fluctuated from 75-85 during primary, secondary, and bottling

Ok, so the yeast was taken from the cake of my previous batch, another from iBrewmaster, Goldenflower Ale. That was a 5.7% ale, lower grav than this honey brown. I made a starter for the honey brown and it went very well. The ferment was fast and vigorous. I didn't have any problems that I was aware of. I had a little bit of a hard time figuring which priming sugar to use, I wanted a honey flavor in the end result, so I went with a dark raw honey (i've since learned that it's not best to rely on priming for imparting flavors). After looking at various calculators and scouring these forums I decided to go with 8 oz.

Primary, secondary, and bottling all took place in my basement, which fluctuates in temperature between 75 and 85. I got absolutely no carbonation after three weeks in the bottles. I figured my yeast had probably died because of the temperature. So last weekend i opened all the bottles and sprinkled a few grains of dry yeast in each bottle and moved the cases into an air-conditioned room, keeping the temp around 70-75. It's been there for a week. So far I've tried one and I've observed very little carbonation. I did get a bit of a release of c02 when the bottle was uncapped, more than before I re-yeasted them. So I'm not terribly worried. It tastes really good, just not carbed.

Here's the weird bit. I saved the yeast cake from this batch, and it was in a soda bottle in my refrigerator. I did not wash it, and there was some beer on top of the yeast in the bottle. I was moving some things around in the fridge and discovered that the bottle for the Honey Brown was rock hard. I decided to vent it a little to release some pressure. The contents were expanding rapidly, and co2 was rising from the yeast cake under the leftover beer. I decided to go for it and just open the bottle. It practically exploded all over my sink, vomiting frothy yeast sludge for nearly 30 seconds. I wasn't able to save any of it, by the time it was done belching co2 and yeast, there was really nothing left in the bottle. I couldn't believe that all that came out of that bottle that's been in my fridge for almost a month. So i guess that proves my yeast-dying theory wrong...

So what happened here? Did I have stalled fermentation? It seems like the yeast dropped out of suspension in the primary and didn't make it to the secondary or something... Why did all that co2 end up in the yeast cake that I saved and not in the bottles? Thanks so much for reading.

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Old 08-27-2012, 06:54 AM   #2
Loudawg7777
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You need sugar in the bottles for priming, not yeast, there's already yeast in the wort, that's what creates the co2 in your bottles.

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Old 08-27-2012, 06:55 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loudawg7777
You need sugar in the bottles for priming, not yeast, there's already yeast in the wort, that's what creates the co2 in your bottles.
Try cutting down on the honey
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Old 08-27-2012, 06:59 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by nylonoxygen77 View Post
(i've since learned that it's not best to rely on priming for imparting flavors). After looking at various calculators and scouring these forums I decided to go with 8 oz.
Well, I have never brewd with honey before, but i also understand that its fermentation can be unpredictable. As far as normal bottleing goes, sometimes it just takes longer to carb
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Old 09-10-2012, 04:23 AM   #5
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I guess all the yeast settled out of the beer. I added a punch of dry yeast granules to each bottle and recapped them. In about two weeks it had carbed up nicely. The bubbles are bigger than they usually are with corn sugar though, so that's probably one of the characteristics of priming with honey vs dextrose.

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Old 09-10-2012, 01:48 PM   #6
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nevermind, I didnt read. hah. glad it worked out

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Old 09-10-2012, 03:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nylonoxygen77 View Post
I guess all the yeast settled out of the beer. I added a punch of dry yeast granules to each bottle and recapped them. In about two weeks it had carbed up nicely. The bubbles are bigger than they usually are with corn sugar though, so that's probably one of the characteristics of priming with honey vs dextrose.
Conventional wisdom on here is that unless you filter, or let it settle for a really long time (over 6 months) you still have plenty of yeast to carbonate. It probably just took these guys 5 total weeks to do the job, and the pinch you added probably didn't really do anything.

Revvy's example for advocating patience is a barleywine I think that took 3 months to carb. Anyway glad it worked out for you.
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Old 09-10-2012, 04:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nylonoxygen77 View Post
I guess all the yeast settled out of the beer. I added a punch of dry yeast granules to each bottle and recapped them. In about two weeks it had carbed up nicely. The bubbles are bigger than they usually are with corn sugar though, so that's probably one of the characteristics of priming with honey vs dextrose.
You probably just rushed on the first part. They would have carbed up eventually. The yeast will not totally drop out and there will be enough left to do the carbonation. When you opened up the bottles to add the yeast you basically started over.

I am surprised that you do not have over carbonated beer. The calculator that I use wants about 5.5 ounces of honey.

I guess that it might take the yeast a little longer to carbonate using honey rather than corn or table sugar.

BTW fermenting at the high temperatures that you had is not desirable and you may have a harsh phenol alcohol tasting beer. Look into ways to control the temperature of your beer during fermentation.

As to the saved yeast cake exploding co2 and seeing that you had a 1.009 final gravity, I would suspect that it got infected and that was what made the high levels of co2 which you did not see in your bottles.
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