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Old 06-30-2013, 03:08 PM   #1
Nutrideath
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Default Problem with fermentation in the bottles

Hello all. I bottled my first brew two weeks ago. I opened a couple, and they are flat and taste sweet. Not "funky" or "nasty" like you would expect if some stray bacteria had gotten into them, just flat & sweet. My conclusion is that the yeast didn't "wake up" when I added the bottling sugar...?

The brew is a Belgian Tripel, which is very sweet & so very high in alcohol content. I'm not sure how much alcohol, because, being my first batch, I neglected to check the specific gravity before fermentation. I brewed it with a Belgian liquid yeast which was recommended for this recipe by the guy at the homebrew store (who seemed like he really knew what he was talking about). Reading up on this later I'm guessing the Belgian yeast is supposed to be more tolerant of alcohol, but I'm not sure exactly what strain I used.

I left it in the carboy for three weeks, then siphoned it into a sanitized bottling bucket, added the sugar (I boiled water, stirred in the sugar until dissolved, and let it cool first). Then I bottled.

So, what did I do wrong? Did I let it go too long in the carboy, and all the yeast died? Or did I kill it somehow during the bottling process? I used Oxy Clean to get the labels off my bottles, and rinsed them very thoroughly - but maybe there was some residue?

Any suggestions would be much appreciated, because the day after I bottled (two weeks ago now) I made another batch of the same Belgian Tripel. I did that so I could harvest the yeast from the first batch, which I did, and which was super active for the first week. It has slowed now, but I'm wondering if I need to bottle sooner, so the yeast has a better chance of being alive...?

First batch went like crazy the first week, slowed the second, and just before bottling clarified pretty well (which I thought was a good thing... is it?). I didn't use a secondary fermenting vessel, just left it in the same carboy. This second batch has slowed its activity (I get a bubble thru the waterlock about once every 45 seconds or so), but still looks thick as mud thru the carboy.

So, all in all I'm worried about how to proceed with this second batch. I'm also wondering if there is any way to save the first batch? Like, could I get a yeast starter going, open each bottle & put an eyedropper's worth of yeast in & recap? Is that a crazy idea?

Sorry if this is too much detail. I just don't know what might be important & what isn't.

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Old 06-30-2013, 03:26 PM   #2
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My guess is that the bottles were not 70 degrees so carbonation has not happened yet. It takes longer if the bottle temps are cooler.

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Old 06-30-2013, 03:38 PM   #3
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Leaving the beer in the carboy for 3 weeks shouldn't hurt anything. How much priming sugar did you use and what temps were the bottles at while they were carbonating?

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Old 06-30-2013, 03:41 PM   #4
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^this, plus two weeks usually isn't long enough to reach carb levels, especially in a higher ABV brew. Give it a few more weeks, and you'll no doubt be fine.

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Old 06-30-2013, 03:42 PM   #5
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It sounds like you did everything right.

What temp are the bottles at now and how long have they been there? Even after 3-4 weeks, there is still enough yeast in suspension to carbonate. High abv beers take especially longer. A 9% trippel I made took 4 months to completely carb and condition.

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Old 06-30-2013, 03:44 PM   #6
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I used 3/4 cup corn sugar. It was a packet that came with the recipe kit.

As for the temp of the bottles, I'm really not sure, now that I think about it. A friend & I both made a batch at my house the same day. We also bottled both batches at my house 3 weeks later. Then we exchanged a six pack (I gave him six of mine, & got six of his.)

So, I have not opened any of the bottles I have kept here. I was at his house the other day, & we decided to open some of our beers. The two of mine I opened were, as I said, flat & sweet. But I don't know where he stored them, or what temp they were stored at.

Are warmer temps better once bottled? For instance, if I put them in my garage now it gets up to 85 or 90 degrees F. I thought that was too hot, so I've kept mine in my kitchen pantry at about 72 F.

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Old 06-30-2013, 03:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nutrideath View Post
I used 3/4 cup corn sugar. It was a packet that came with the recipe kit.

As for the temp of the bottles, I'm really not sure, now that I think about it. A friend & I both made a batch at my house the same day. We also bottled both batches at my house 3 weeks later. Then we exchanged a six pack (I gave him six of mine, & got six of his.)

So, I have not opened any of the bottles I have kept here. I was at his house the other day, & we decided to open some of our beers. The two of mine I opened were, as I said, flat & sweet. But I don't know where he stored them, or what temp they were stored at.

Are warmer temps better once bottled? For instance, if I put them in my garage now it gets up to 85 or 90 degrees F. I thought that was too hot, so I've kept mine in my kitchen pantry at about 72 F.
72º and time, patience is important.
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Old 06-30-2013, 03:47 PM   #8
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Ok, that's good to hear.

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Old 06-30-2013, 03:53 PM   #9
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72F is fine. I wouldn't move to the garage.

The "problem" here is Tripels aren't fast beers. They take longer than normal to develop. As long as you didn't filter with a .5 micron filter, the yeast are in there, doing their job. Trying to rush them is like pushing a chain uphill though. They have their own timeline and work at their own pace.

I would pull out a bottle once a month and refrigerate for 48 hours to see when they are ready but don't be surprised if it takes 4 months.

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Old 06-30-2013, 03:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColoHox View Post
It sounds like you did everything right.

What temp are the bottles at now and how long have they been there? Even after 3-4 weeks, there is still enough yeast in suspension to carbonate. High abv beers take especially longer. A 9% trippel I made took 4 months to completely carb and condition.
I'm keeping the bottles at 72 Deg F.

Wow, 4 months. Well I'm beginning to see that two weeks in the bottle is just getting started. Thanks for the info.

Also, should I wait to bottle the next batch until it gets to that "clearing" stage? Last batch seemed to clarify around 3 weeks in the carboy.
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