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Old 08-03-2011, 04:05 PM   #1
gobluedc
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Default Inconsistent Carb & Sweetness - 11 weeks

I have read and re-read the incredible thread on patience (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/never-dump-your-beer-patience-virtue-time-heals-all-things-even-beer-73254/). I am not going to throw out the beer, but I wanted to see if anyone had any ideas as to why I'm having this issue so that I can better my technique and practices.

-5 Gal Extract/Specialty Grain IPA
-SG: 1.066 (approx)
-Primary: 8 days (Since reading HBT I am going to try 4-week primary)
-Secondary: 8 day w/dry 3 oz pellet/leaf dry hop
-Bottled: 11 weeks ago (constant 72 degrees...have given them swirls here and there)

Problems:
-Inconsistent carbonation...some (10%) bottles are perfect, most (80%) have very little carbonation, and the ones that are overcarbonated (no gushing or bombs) taste MUCH sweeter than the other bottles.

Causes?:
-Primary not long enough since it's a relatively bigger (1.066) beer? I noticed slight bubbling/fizz when beer was in secondary.
-If this was the case, however, I would have thought most would be overcarbed?

-Poor priming sugar technique?
-This was the 1st beer I dryhopped, so I was paranoid about hop particles. When racking to bottling bucket I put a nylon hop bag over the end of the tubing which sat at the bottom of the bottling bucket. Poured all priming solution into bottling bucket. Will try 1/2 and 1/2 next time, but maybe the nylon bag inhibited flow/circulation?

-Poor cap seals or bottling technique?
-First time using caps from brewtoppers. Some bottles were capped with leftover brewers best caps, and they seem to have carbed more consistently, but sample size not large enough to draw any conclusions.

I will wait and be more patient with primary times in the future. I might feel more comfortable if everything was under or overcarbed or if they at least tasted consistently sweet or unsweet...I know that different bottles age differently...

but does the increased sweetness of the overcarbed beers indicate inconsistencies in priming sugar? Or am I missing another possibility?

Other than that, the beer tastes good to me so I assume that there is no infections.

Thanks!



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Old 08-03-2011, 04:09 PM   #2
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but does the increased sweetness of the overcarbed beers indicate inconsistencies in priming sugar? Or am I missing another possibility?
That's sure what it sounds like. It sounds like when the priming solution was added, it wasn't mixed well with the beer and some bottles got more sugar than others. Did you boil the priming sugar in some water, and then rack the beer into it with the tubing at the very bottom of the bucket bucket, so that the beer filled from the bottom and swirled around to mix the priming solution well?

I've never stirred the beer in the bottling bucket, I've just racked as I described but the sugar/water and beer mixed well.


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Old 08-03-2011, 04:15 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply!

-Boiled 1 cup water with 5 oz of corn sugar for about 5 minutes, let it cool.
-Poured entire contents of sugar water mixture into bottom of bottling bucket
-Placed end of tubing covered in hopsack toward side of bottling bucket so that nylon bag wouldn't sit in or soak up sugar mixture
-Started autosiphon

There were no hop particles in the nylon sack at the end of racking anyhow, so I guess I won't try that again. Additionally, I'll try pouring half the sugar mix before starting the autosiphon and then the other half when I'm halfway through next time.

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Old 08-03-2011, 04:26 PM   #4
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Thanks for the reply!

-Placed end of tubing covered in hopsack toward side of bottling bucket so that nylon bag wouldn't sit in or soak up sugar mixture
-Started autosiphon
I'm guessing that's the issue. You want the tip of the tubing under the surface of the priming solution, or at least at the very bottom of the bucket, and an extra length to curl around the bottom helps it swirl and mix.
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Old 08-03-2011, 04:42 PM   #5
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The tip of the tube was at the bottom of the bucket, but just to the side.

Having an extra coil seems like it would make a lot of sense as well.

If you want the tip of the tube to be under the priming solution, would it make for better standards to start the siphon first, wait for the beer to form at least a thin layer with nice swirling, and then add priming solution as opposed to just dumping the solution at the bottom of the bucket before starting...or should the swirling be enough to circulate the priming solution off the bottom of the bucket on its own? Maybe I'm making this more complicated than it needs to be

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Old 08-03-2011, 06:28 PM   #6
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Personally, I have started giving the beer a few stirs with a plastic mixing spoon once I've got a few inches of beer in the bottling bucket. I typically pour the priming solution in the bucket and then siphon the beer on top of it as Yooper discussed. But, I would sometimes still have incosistencies in carbonation. Part of it I think is due to the fact that the priming solution is heavier than the beer. The other part I think is that I cold crash my beer before bottling so the beer is quite a bit colder than the priming solution. I believe both of these factors cause the priming solution to want to separate from the beer. So, I just started giving the mixture a light stir once I get a few inches of beer into the bottling bucket.

I'm sure folks will tell you that you're risking oxidizing your beer. But, I've never had an oxidized beer, ever. And I've done some dumb stuff while brewing before just from a simple lack of experience at the time. In fact I siphoned my fermented beer through a strainer into the bottling bucket once. That didn't oxidize the beer. I personally believe that oxidation is a lot like infections. Everyone is afraid that any little thing they do is going to cause one or the other, but they seem to rarely occur in practice.

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Old 08-03-2011, 08:08 PM   #7
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I've also batch prime where I mix up a sugar solution, boil it, cool it, then put it in the bottom of the bottling bucket, and then rack in top of it with enough tubing in the bottom so it creates a swirling effect. In my last batch, I happened to store my bottles in order how I bottled, and I noticed that the first 30 or so bottles were carbonated well, but as I am getting towards the end of the batch which was also some of the last bottles to be filled, the carbonation is significantly less. The beer is still good, but I poured one out last night that was almost flat with no head while most of my others in the batch bubbled like crazy and had a nice foamy head. Is it something I did wrong mixing in the sugars? Im really getting to the stage where I want to keg...I just need to convince the wife that its time to put some money into kegging.



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