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Old 10-01-2013, 04:40 PM   #1
Veronis
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Default No carbonation after 10 days

This was a birch beer extract kit (the little yellow & brown box). I made it with my 7 year old who loves birch beer, and really want to get this right for him.

I used Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast, rehydrated in 98 degree water (Red Star says 97-102) for 10 minutes, and added to 98 degree soda in bottling bucket.

I stirred everything in well, added the 8 cups sugar and ensured full dissolve, and bottled in PET bottles I got at my LHBS.

Sat in 71 degrees for 4 days, then moved to 69 degree location. It's flat as it gets.

The yeast expiration date was late 2014 somewhere, and had been stored properly.

3 days ago I turned all the bottles upside down and gave them a few semi-gentle shakes to force all the yeast back in suspension. Each bottle does have a thin layer of yeast at the bottom. Didn't make a difference.

1. Where might I have screwed up, and/or what should I do to fix it, if anything?
2. Lastly, is it true that if carbonation does work, you have to refrigerate these bottles once you reach acceptable carbonation levels or they'll explode? I keep seeing mixed comments on this.

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Old 10-01-2013, 05:34 PM   #2
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I would recommend making a yeast starter and add in measured amounts to each bottle. Not sure what exactly you screwed up, it sounds like either the yeast is dead or the bottles aren't sealing properly. Open one up and taste it and see if it's still sweet. If it's not sweet at all, then the pressure didn't hold. If it's still just as sweet as when it was bottled, then your yeast didn't ferment.

It is true that if they're not refrigerated they'll overcarbonate. I don't know that PET will explode, but glass surely does. At any rate you don't want to leave them at room temperature fermenting, it will be a disaster one way or another.

Was your water chorinated? Not that chlorinated water would stop yeast dead, but it might put some stress on it.

What kind of sugar did you use?

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Old 10-01-2013, 05:38 PM   #3
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i have the same issue with those flavorings in the little brown box. looking closer at the ingredients, they contain sodium benzoate, which is a preservative the pretty much makes yeast activity impossible.

i have tried dozens of different ways and i find it nearly impossible to get them to carbonate. i had some success making a starter and leaving them at 80F, but then i got nasty flavors from the yeast.

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Old 10-01-2013, 08:24 PM   #4
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If the yeast is giving off nasty flavors, try using a yeast nutrient. I have not used these extracts specifically, but I may have to get some to try them out.

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Old 10-01-2013, 08:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrFoodScientist View Post
I would recommend making a yeast starter and add in measured amounts to each bottle. Not sure what exactly you screwed up, it sounds like either the yeast is dead or the bottles aren't sealing properly. Open one up and taste it and see if it's still sweet. If it's not sweet at all, then the pressure didn't hold. If it's still just as sweet as when it was bottled, then your yeast didn't ferment.

It is true that if they're not refrigerated they'll overcarbonate. I don't know that PET will explode, but glass surely does. At any rate you don't want to leave them at room temperature fermenting, it will be a disaster one way or another.

Was your water chorinated? Not that chlorinated water would stop yeast dead, but it might put some stress on it.

What kind of sugar did you use?
The bottles are definitely sealed - I'm fairly strong and twisted those caps on very tightly.

It's still sweet, but not carbonated at all.

My water is chlorinated (not chloramine), but I boiled all the water for 20 minutes, then put the lid on and let it cool to 98 before moving to the mixing steps.

I used standard table sugar.
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Old 10-01-2013, 09:48 PM   #6
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The first time I made a soda like this I had the same problem and it turned out I pitched the yeast a little too warm. Get some fresh yeast and add a small pinch to each bottle at the cooler temperatures they are now at and re-cap.

Keep them around 70 and check them each day by feeling the PET bottle. When they get nice and firm pop them in the fridge and keep them there to prevent further fermentation, yes, the PET can pop if pressure gets too high!

Enjoy the Birch Beer!

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