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Old 07-16-2012, 04:43 AM   #1
alyanddrew
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Default My beer is flat

This is my first batch of beer. I brewed using a kit and followed the instructions. I left the beer in primary for 1 week, secondary for 2 weeks, then bottled. I used the priming sugar that came with my kit, cooked it according to the instructions, poured it in my bottling bucket and racked the beer on top of it. I used glass bottles with a hand bottler and bottled the beer. It's been sitting in my basement at 70+ F for the last three weeks. I tried a bottle a week ago, it was flat. I tried it last night and today, still flat. Don't get me wrong, it tastes great, but I enjoy a little CO2 with my beer.

What do you think has happened, and can I fix it? What can I do differently in the future to ensure proper carbonation? What is the "key" to a nicely carbed beer?

Thanks!

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Old 07-16-2012, 04:59 AM   #2
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Hey man,

So from the looks of it, the longest the bottle has been in the fridge is about a day. Which is not enough in my opinion. Throw some bottles in there and leave it in for at least 4-5 days. I prefer a week and even longer for me is even better. All of my beers that I have in the fridge for less than 3-5 days are under carbonated and flat-ish. Assuming you did everything right as far as the priming sugar, bottling, etc. I'd say more time in the fridge is all you need. Also, when you pour do you get some bubbles that seem to stick to the bottom and sides of the glass then disappear quickly?

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Old 07-16-2012, 05:30 AM   #3
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I had a carbonation problem with a kolsch I made recently that was in the bottle for three weeks. I had the beer on the floor of my basement (70-75 deg). My LHBS said to bring it upstairs where it is warmer. It's about 78 on my main floor. For good measure, I turned each bottle upside down and shook the yeast back into suspension. After just 4 days the carbonation was perfect.

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Old 07-16-2012, 10:46 AM   #4
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In order for beer to bottle condition correctly, 2 things have to happen. 1) after adding priming sugar, the beer must sit 2 to 3 weeks (sometimes more) in the bottles at 70-80 degrees to allow the yeast to produce CO2. 2) after 3 weeks at room temperature, the bottles need to be refrigerated for a MINIMUM of 48 hours to force the carbon dioxide in the bottle to saturate the beer.

If the beer is not cold-conditioned long enough after the initial carbonation period (the 3 weeks at room temp), then the majority of your carbon dioxide just escapes as a hiss when you open the bottle.

I suggest putting one or 2 bottles in the fridge and letting them chill for 2 days. Then check one for carbonation. If they are still not carbonated enough, then leave the rest of them conditioning in a warm area for another week, chill one for 2 days, and check again. If you added sugar, the beer WILL carbonate, but it will do it when it is ready. Unfortunately, the beer is not always ready as quickly as we are!

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Old 07-16-2012, 12:38 PM   #5
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Also the higher the gravity of the beer the longer it is going to take to carb.

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Old 07-16-2012, 01:59 PM   #6
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I have read multiple times the advice that you need to put your beer in the refrigerator for it to carb up. I am having a tough time figuring out why that would be the case though. The CO2 in the beer will be in equilibrium with the CO2 in the air above it. At room temperature the beer has plenty of CO2 in it (assuming of course that there is enough yeast, priming sugar, and time for it to carbonate). The CO2 is created by the yeast and stays in solution to the equilibrium point with the air space. The CO2 is not all in the air space. Chilling the beer will indeed raise the CO2 content of the beer since it will be able to hold more CO2 but only by the relatively little amount present in the air space (and even then it won't be even all of that CO2 as once again equilibrium will be reached). The exact same thing stands for commercial bottle beers. Assuming that there is the same amount of CO2 in the bottle, a Sam Adams Lager at room temperature will have the same carbonation level as an as yet unrefrigerated homebrew clone at the same temperature.

From personal experience, I haven't ever noticed any carbonation difference between a bottle I throw in the fridge for 4 hours and one that spends a week before I find it again. Of course a bottle that has been "lagering" in the fridge for a few weeks will taste different than a beer that was just cooled but that isn't due to the carbonation.

What am I misunderstanding?

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Old 07-16-2012, 02:33 PM   #7
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Your and my understanding is the same.

Bottle conditioned beer will not have anymore or less carbination. The amount of carbination depends on the amount of primaing sugar used. Making the beer colder will decrease yeast activity.

I have never noticed a significant difference between bottled left at 65 deg F and bottles in the fridge.

Note that in a keg with a CO2 source, the temperatuer of the beer will make a difference in the amount of dissolved CO2 in solution.

alyanddrew: what beer did you brew? what yeast? what did you clean your bottles with? Are you sure you added priming sugar? Did you cold condition before bottling?

I am one of those that only use a primary (no secondary) on ales and typically I'll ferment for a week with a diacetyl rest for a couple of days and then bottle. There is usually enough active yeast left in suspension so that my beers carbinate in about 1-2 weeks. It is possible with prmary and secondary fermentation that there is not enough active yeast.

Some yeasts are highly flocculent (i.e WLP-002), and drop out so well that it can be difficult to bottle condition without adding some yeast.

Cold conditioning can alaso drop out a lot of yeast as the protiens tend to flocculate with the yeast and settle out.

I would wait another couple of weeks. The yeast number may be small and dormant and take a while to do their job.

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Old 07-16-2012, 02:46 PM   #8
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Your yeast might've fallen out of suspension. That's not a bad thing for the cosmetics of the beer. I like Tyru007's advice. Does the beer taste overly sweet?

If there's no yeast left, I guess you could dump it all back into a bottling bucket and add some yeast then rebottle. That's not very fun though. Maybe wait another week or two to see if there's a small amount of yeast that can finish the job.

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Old 07-16-2012, 03:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sidepart
Your yeast might've fallen out of suspension. That's not a bad thing for the cosmetics of the beer. I like Tyru007's advice. Does the beer taste overly sweet?

If there's no yeast left, I guess you could dump it all back into a bottling bucket and add some yeast then rebottle. That's not very fun though. Maybe wait another week or two to see if there's a small amount of yeast that can finish the job.
Don't do this. You will oxygenate the beer. Give them a few more weeks. Tip them over and re-suspend the yeast. If they still aren't carbed give them longer.
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Old 07-16-2012, 03:34 PM   #10
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Micheal a couple things: cooling beer allows all the particles and yeast to drop out of suspension. So if we recall the mentos experiment, with warm beer you have more floaties and more nucleation sites floating in the beer. This means if the beer is heavily carbed, it geysers or foams out. With lightly carbed beers you will loose head quickly as CO2 rapidly heads out of suspension. That process does indeed take a bit longer than 4 hours.

Second at higher temperatures CO2 is more apt to stay in the air than in the liquid. Even with a pressure imbalance there is only so much CO2 a beer will absorb. Dropping the temp allows that last little bit to get absorbed into the liquid. Now I am not saying it is a detectable difference, but the science does support the reasoning.

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