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Old 06-30-2012, 08:01 PM   #1
DrunkenAnchor
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Default Inconsistent Carbonation

Been brewing for about 6 months. The last 4 batches of beer have had inconsistent carbonation. Each batch’s carbonation has been all over the map. One beer will be completely flat, another fine, and another a gusher. The only consistency is that each batch has had the same issues.

When bottling we use 2 cups boiled water along with measured amount of priming sugar, as specified by the Northern Brewer Priming Calculator. We add the cooled priming solution to the bottom of the bottling bucket and then rack the beer from the fermentor into the bottling bucket. We have tried both table sugar and corn sugar as the priming sugar, with the same results.

We allow the bottles to condition a minimum of 3-4 weeks before placing them into the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Even waiting a few weeks after this time some beers have been completely flat and others have gushed.
The original gravity of our beers for these batches range from 1.045-1.065.
Any ideas as to what the problem is or what we can do differently to create more even carbonation would be greatly appreciated!

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Old 06-30-2012, 08:07 PM   #2
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Your technique is good for the bottling bucket, so the only things I'd suggest would be being extra-double careful with your sanitation of the bottles, and evaluating your capping procedures. Perhaps you're not getting a complete seal? Are you capping them all yourself? With the Red Baron, I like to put a little extra downward force when I cap after I think I'm done.

EDIT: A couple more things, maybe you could try carbonation drops so you know you are dead equal on the sugar, and also - maybe you've got a bad batch of caps..I suppose that's not impossible, though I haven't heard of that happening.

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Old 06-30-2012, 08:29 PM   #3
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I've only been brewing for a few months as well, and my first couple of batches did pretty much what you're describing. After some research, I thought my swing tops weren't sealing properly. I talked to my LHBS guy and he suggested that I might not be getting the priming sugar mixed well enough before bottling. His words were to "stir until your right arm gets tired, and then switch arms and stir until your left arm gets tired." The problem is that even when racking your beer on top of your sugar solution, the sugar tends to settle to the bottom of the bucket because it's heavier. Obviously you want to be careful not to stir too vigorously and get bubbles in the beer. But I did what he said and every batch since then has carbed perfectly. This may or may not be your issue, but it's certainly worth a shot.

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Old 06-30-2012, 08:45 PM   #4
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Thanks for the tips!

We do cap them all using the Red Barron capper, and the caps for each batch generally come a different pack of caps. For sanitation, we normally rinse the bottles out really well after using them, and then run them through the sanitize cycle (with no soap) on the dishwasher at bottling time. I'm not sure if that would contribute to the uneven carbing, but it's not a bad idea to try using sanitizer next time and/or carbonation drops as an experiment. Do the carbonation drops impact the flavor of the beer though?

We don't normally stir since from reading posts here we thought the motion of the beer during racking would be sufficient to mix it. But your point about the sugar settling to the bottom is interesting. We normally put aside the last bottle we fill to use as our test bottle to gauge carbonation, and for one of the batches that bottle was a gusher while most of the rest are flat. And with the next batch, a couple of the last bottles we filled exploded within a week of bottling. So it's quite possible that this is part of the problem and we should try the gentle stirring approach as well.

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Old 06-30-2012, 09:06 PM   #5
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Exploding bottles may also be a symptom of under-filled bottles. If you're confident in the consistency of your fill levels, I would lean toward uneven priming. Running the bottles through a sanitize cycle shouldn't be an issue. Do you boil your caps? I boil mine at a low boil for 2-3 minutes before capping. If you do this, be sure to inspect the underside of each cap for melted or bubbled linings, as this could potentially lead to an improper seal.

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Old 06-30-2012, 09:58 PM   #6
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There may be very slight differences in filling levels between bottles due to error, although we try to fill to the top then remove the bottling wand. That gives a small headspace after its removed.

For caps, we soak them in iodophor solution then after filling each bottle, pull a cap and immediately seal the bottle.

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Old 06-30-2012, 11:08 PM   #7
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Seems like your bottling and capping practices are pretty sound. Might just try giving it a good stir. That solved my problems. Good luck. Cheers!

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Old 06-30-2012, 11:27 PM   #8
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You have to stir the priming sugar into the beer. It is way to heavy to mix evenly just racking on it. I had the same problems until I started stirring. I stir when I'm done racking and then after every 6 bottles to keep it in suspense. If you stir it gently, you will introduce very little O2. Try stirring next time and see how it turns out.

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Old 06-30-2012, 11:46 PM   #9
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A pint of water sounds like an awful lot to hydrate your priming sugar....I've only made one 5 gallon braggot so far, no beer yet, but I only used about a 1/2 cup water for 3/4 cup corn sugar, after boiling the water, and after racking onto it, didn't bother to stir the wort at all. And the corn sugar dissolved in the water without any difficulty for me. And the braggot was perfectly carbonated, every bottle. Could be beginner's luck, idk.

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Old 07-01-2012, 12:45 AM   #10
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Welcome to my world See my thread about inconsistent carbonation. I can't figure it out for the life of me. I've tried everything from stirring, to not. From using the highest temp the beer achieved during primary fermentation, and using the "normal" temp. I also tried cutting my priming sugar by 25% to potentially alleviate overcarbonation...Still not working.

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