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Bottle Conditioning Failure

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Geog33

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Hey All,

Bottled my first 5gal batch a few weeks back and attempted some bottle conditioning of half. My PET bottles told me what I already knew when I cracked a sparkling version after 2 or 3 weeks...still still.

Curious what I did wrong. I'll list what I think are pertinent details:

-OG 1.056
-Fermentation slowed to about 2 bubbles / minute before racking to secondary
-No bubbling/fermentation apparent at all in secondary
-FG 1.000
-Added 1 tab of campden 4-5 days before bottling
-Added 0.5tsp of white sugar to each 500ml bottle
-Stored where I was fermenting (16 - 17°C), but moved a few bottles up to the main floor (20°C) for a week to see if that would help (no)

I'm going to be starting up a few tester 1gal batches to try different yeast/sweetener/flavour combos shortly, and want to get the sparkling style working on this go! Any suggestions are much appreciated.
 

mithril007

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Campden tablets killed the yeast. No yeast, no carbon dioxide. You have slightly back-sweetened flat beer so far as I️ can tell. Skip the tablets next time, or add a yeast with the sugar.
 

Chalkyt

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Yep, your numbers look about right for sparkling... should probably produce 2.0-2.5 vols of CO2 if there was any yeast left alive to do the job. What does it taste like? Sweet? Is the sugar just sitting there "unconverted"?

The SO2 that probably killed the yeast should have gone by the time you bottled. So I expect you could now just add a pinch of yeast per bottle and perhaps a bit of DAP (nutrient), but first try it with just yeast only. I usually make in one gallon (4.5 litre) batches using a tsp of yeast, so about 1/8 tsp or less of new yeast (i.e. a pinch) should be O.K for your 0.5 litre bottles.

It should kick off, consume your sugar and produce CO2. I guess the yeast type doesn't matter too much but if the yeast you started with doesn't work (or you don't have any left), then Plan B using something that is quick and aggressive would be worth a try. EC1118 should be good if you have any. I understand that EC1118 is often used to kick start stuck fermentations.

These days I add the sugar to the bottling bucket in order to get even distribution. Adding the loose sugar to the bottles tends to produce uneven results so you might have the same problem with yeast... some bottles just fizzy and others volcanoes. But any result is better than none.

Good luck!
 
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Geog33

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Thanks so much Chalkyt! I knew from reading that SO2 (in those levels) wasn't enough to kill your main yeast colony...just any nasties. Honestly in the future though...even this 5 gal batch isn't going to be around long enough that I worry too much about bottle spoilage.

Straight out of secondary it was 'hella dry' :) Our 'dry' (with some tasting experimentation) was 5tbsp of Xylitol/Gal, and our sweet we did with 13tbsp/Gal. Might drop each of those by a tablespoon or two on future batches, as I found when it was chilled the sweetness came through a bit stronger.

I'll do some experimentation with adding that pinch of yeast and nutrient as well. Much appreciated advice!
 

madscientist451

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Sierra Nevada bottle conditions for 2 weeks at 80F, which is about 26C, just wait it out, they'll carb up eventually. Skip the Campden next time.
 

Maylar

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You did nothing wrong. Campden does not kill yeast, and 1 tab in 5 gallons is nothing. 1 tsp sugar in 500 ml will give you light carbonation, but it can take a few weeks. Just give it more time.
 
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Geog33

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Next batch we added the pinch of yeast at bottling and PRESTO! bubbles :) Also bottled straight from primary after 30 days, which likely helped with the yeast attenuation (rather than after 30+30 in secondary). Thanks again!
 

Scrumpy!

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I don't think it is all that unusual to add 50 ppm sulfite at or a day or so before bottling. I do and it has never prevented successful bottle conditioning. However, you also should pitch fresh yeast in your bottling bucket rather than assuming the yeast in your cider is still viable. IMO, EC-1118 or any other yeast that is specifically used for prise de mousse is the best choice for bottle conditioning. After bottling, you will get better results if you warm the bottles up to 25 deg C or even a little higher to be assured that the yeast get off to a good start.

Keep in mind that PET bottles are permeable and your cider will start to take on sherry like flavors as it oxidizes.
 
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