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Old 10-26-2011, 08:19 PM   #1
frankvw
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Default Why do some of my beers foam so wildly?

Hi, everyone,

With all of five brews under my belt (hey, you've got to start somewhere) I have noticed that some of my beer bottles foam rather excessively when I open them. So far all my beers are bottle conditioned, and most of them have come out quite well, with the beer being clear and the sedimentation staying at the bottom of the bottle.

However, sometimes I will open a bottle (carefully) and immediately the foam will rise out of the bottle, and the carbon dioxide come out of solution so vigorously that it stirs up all the yeast from the bottom of the bottle. This happens (as far as I can see) randomly, with one bottle being fine, and another bottle (same size, same temperature, same brew, same amount of carbonation, same careful way of opening the bottle) being "wild".

What causes this? I have a suspicion that solids in the beer may have something to do with it, since my first full mash brew (which has a few issues with excessive trub ending up in the fermenter) is more prone to excessive foaming upon opening the bottle than are kit brews and partial mash brews. Still, I opened a bottle of my Belgian strong ale this afternoon, and much to my surprise it foamed so strongly that practically all the yeast was lifted from the bottom. None of the bottles from that batch have done anything like that so far.

I know that over-carbonation is the first common suspect in this case, but trust me, all bottles have the same amount (within small tolerances of course) of carbonation.

What's happening here? Any ideas?

Cheers!

// FvW

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Old 10-26-2011, 08:24 PM   #2
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How are you priming them,& how much? Do you give them enough fridge time to get the gas into solution? How's your sanitation?
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Old 10-26-2011, 08:25 PM   #3
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How long is the beer in the primary? With you saying the taste is fine, my guess is that fermentation is not yet complete and continues in the bottles. Another idea might be you're adding too much priming sugar without realizing it.

Brent

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Old 10-26-2011, 08:36 PM   #4
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I would think that random foaming bottles would very likely occur because of an uneven mix of the priming sugar in the fermented beer. Gently stir the mixture so as to keep the oxygen absorption to a minimum, then immediately bottle.

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Old 10-26-2011, 08:38 PM   #5
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Like unionrdr suggests by asking his questions, I see 3 different reasons that could explain this:

* you do not let the bottle rest in the fridge for enough time. As a consequence, CO2 is not in solution quite yet, and will get out as soon as you open the bottle.
* you did not mix evenly the priming sugar, or did not add the same amount of priming sugar in each bottle.
* you have an infection in some bottles, that keeps fermenting them and adding more CO2 that need be. Even though it is possible, this is unlikely if you followed common sanitation practices.

So, which one do you think it is in your case ?

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Old 10-28-2011, 06:37 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unionrdr View Post
How are you priming them,& how much? Do you give them enough fridge time to get the gas into solution? How's your sanitation?
Priming: either 5ml of sugar per litre, or according to http://www.brewery.org/library/YPrimerMH.html. In any case, all bottles from a single batch are primed identically. Some foam, most don't.

Fridge time: several days.

Sanitation: as good as I can get it without using boiling caustic soda solutions or similar heroic measures. So far I haven't had any infections yet.

// FvW
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Old 10-28-2011, 06:39 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by birvine View Post
How long is the beer in the primary? With you saying the taste is fine, my guess is that fermentation is not yet complete and continues in the bottles. Another idea might be you're adding too much priming sugar without realizing it.

Brent
Either one week in primary and two in secondary, or at least two weeks in primary. In any case, over-carbonation due to significant fermentation taking place in the bottle should result in most (instead of just some) bottles turning into gushers, shouldn't it?

// FvW
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Old 10-28-2011, 06:42 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jroot View Post
I would think that random foaming bottles would very likely occur because of an uneven mix of the priming sugar in the fermented beer. Gently stir the mixture so as to keep the oxygen absorption to a minimum, then immediately bottle.
I prime by putting sugar into each bottle. And while there are of course tolerances, I am careful about measuring the amount of priming sugar as accurately and consistently as possible.

// FvW
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Old 10-28-2011, 06:44 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mperceau View Post
Like unionrdr suggests by asking his questions, I see 3 different reasons that could explain this:

* you do not let the bottle rest in the fridge for enough time. As a consequence, CO2 is not in solution quite yet, and will get out as soon as you open the bottle.
* you did not mix evenly the priming sugar, or did not add the same amount of priming sugar in each bottle.
* you have an infection in some bottles, that keeps fermenting them and adding more CO2 that need be. Even though it is possible, this is unlikely if you followed common sanitation practices.

So, which one do you think it is in your case ?
Darned if I know. Just in case, I'll pay even more attention to sanitation when I bottle my next batch this afternoon and see what happens.

// FvW
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Old 10-28-2011, 11:56 AM   #10
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Another possible cause that I've heard discussed in similar threads is the amount of sediment in the bottle. The sediment can provide nucleation sites for bubble formation. That could explain why some bottles foam and others don't. I suspect that this only an issue if the carbonation level is high to begin with, and the sediment just pushes things over the edge.

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