Carbonation Help!

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

DPveritasGold

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2015
Messages
52
Reaction score
4
So I just recently bottled my blueberry weissen which came out great (except the carbonation...keep reading). This was my first batch using my new 14 Gallon SS Brewtech Unitank and Blichmann BeerGun. I burst carbed the beer and the samples I tasted were perfect. Then I burst carbed just a tad more to account for losses in CO2 during the bottling processes. But much to my dismay. After opening up the bottled beer, there was a barely audible hiss when you pry the top off, and little to no white gas in the bottle. Even a hard pour into a glass yields no head and it tastes flat.

Can yall help me brainstorm what I may have done wrong? Was it how I carbed it in the Unitank, or my bottling setup, or the BeerGun, or could my capper be bad and the bottle caps aren't sealing properly?

Any thoughts/advise is greatly appreciated.

Thanks
 

day_trippr

A bad time to be an empath.
Joined
May 31, 2011
Messages
32,682
Reaction score
13,634
Location
Stow, MA
Given "the samples...were perfect", unless you didn't notice foamy fills I'd be inclined to suspect the capping process.

Next time, include a 12 ounce soda bottle, try to fill it the same way as the glass, seal it up, then bottle and cap the rest.
Then after letting it chill back down, fill a glass with that soda bottle and see how it looks and tastes.
If it's good, it was the bottle caps, if it's flat, it was the fill process...

Cheers!
 

Advance

Active Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2019
Messages
36
Reaction score
15
Did you carbonate using the Unitank's carbonation stone? What was your burst carbonation process?
 
OP
D

DPveritasGold

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2015
Messages
52
Reaction score
4
Did you carbonate using the Unitank's carbonation stone? What was your burst carbonation process?
Yes I did. I pumped CO2 through the stone at like 30 psi until the tank pressure hit 15 psi. At that point I sampled it and it wasn't carbonated enough. So I flowed more CO2 through the stone while bleeding pressure from the blowoff valve to keep the pressure at around 15 psi. I repeated this until the carbonation level was to my liking.
 

Advance

Active Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2019
Messages
36
Reaction score
15
Your method of using the carbonation stone is incorrect. Pushing CO2 at 30 psi with a low head pressure will cause a large amount of CO2 to be emitted from the stone in the form of large bubbles that race to the surface. The CO2 that does manage to get absorbed will have a tendency to get knocked out of solution quickly from the turbulence created by the high velocity stream. Here is the method I use for my unitank (14 gal SSBrewtech):

  1. Close off the blowoff valve as the beer nears your calculated F.G. to generate some pressure in the headspace. You only need about 5 psi, but more is fine. I usually spund, so my head pressure is around 10-12 psi. This positive pressure in the headspace will be used to prevent a vacuum condition from occurring during the cold crash.
  2. Cold crash the beer to 38-40F. Let the beer sit for a couple days to settle the solids and balance/absorb the CO2 in the headspace.
  3. Sanitize the tubing you will use between your CO2 tank and the carbonation stone. Sanitize the input to the carbonation stone as well. Install the tubing on your CO2 regulator and set the regulator to about 5-7 psi. Purge the tubing and input to the carbonation stone by blowing CO2 through the tubing and towards the input of the stone. Connect the tubing to the stone after you have purged the input and while CO2 is still escaping from the tubing.
  4. The wetting pressure of your stone should be around 4psi. This means that CO2 will not flow through the stone unless the regulator pressure is at least 4psi (wetting pressure) higher than the head pressure in the fermenter. Set your CO2 tank regulator to your current head pressure plus the wetting pressure. For example, if the head pressure is 3psi, set the regulator to 7 psi.
  5. Open the valve on the carbonation stone and listen for the bubbles that should be flowing. If you cant hear them, increase the regulator pressure little by little until you can. Do not set the regulator to more than 6 psi over the current head pressure while trying to obtain this auditory confirmation. Instead wait 15-20 minutes and check to see if your head pressure in rising.
  6. The process now is to reach the desired carbonation level in a controlled manner. The goal is to emit small, low velocity bubbles from the carbonation stone. This will give them the best chance of being fully absorbed by the beer as they rise towards the headspace. If they rise too fast from a high pressure differential, they will not absorb into solution, and thus your head pressure will falsely indicate the level of carbonation you have achieved. This is accomplished by incrementally increasing the regulator pressure with a dwell time between the adjustments. You should aim to adjust the regulator by no more than a 1/4 turn every hour. Repeat this step until the head pressure reads about 1 psi low from your desired reading.
  7. Let the beer sit for a day or two at the last regulator setting. During this time that last psi of head pressure should be reached and the CO2 will have time to balance and take a set in solution. Your should now be ready to serve.

Hope this helps
 
OP
D

DPveritasGold

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2015
Messages
52
Reaction score
4
Your method of using the carbonation stone is incorrect. Pushing CO2 at 30 psi with a low head pressure will cause a large amount of CO2 to be emitted from the stone in the form of large bubbles that race to the surface. The CO2 that does manage to get absorbed will have a tendency to get knocked out of solution quickly from the turbulence created by the high velocity stream. Here is the method I use for my unitank (14 gal SSBrewtech):

  1. Close off the blowoff valve as the beer nears your calculated F.G. to generate some pressure in the headspace. You only need about 5 psi, but more is fine. I usually spund, so my head pressure is around 10-12 psi. This positive pressure in the headspace will be used to prevent a vacuum condition from occurring during the cold crash.
  2. Cold crash the beer to 38-40F. Let the beer sit for a couple days to settle the solids and balance/absorb the CO2 in the headspace.
  3. Sanitize the tubing you will use between your CO2 tank and the carbonation stone. Sanitize the input to the carbonation stone as well. Install the tubing on your CO2 regulator and set the regulator to about 5-7 psi. Purge the tubing and input to the carbonation stone by blowing CO2 through the tubing and towards the input of the stone. Connect the tubing to the stone after you have purged the input and while CO2 is still escaping from the tubing.
  4. The wetting pressure of your stone should be around 4psi. This means that CO2 will not flow through the stone unless the regulator pressure is at least 4psi (wetting pressure) higher than the head pressure in the fermenter. Set your CO2 tank regulator to your current head pressure plus the wetting pressure. For example, if the head pressure is 3psi, set the regulator to 7 psi.
  5. Open the valve on the carbonation stone and listen for the bubbles that should be flowing. If you cant hear them, increase the regulator pressure little by little until you can. Do not set the regulator to more than 6 psi over the current head pressure while trying to obtain this auditory confirmation. Instead wait 15-20 minutes and check to see if your head pressure in rising.
  6. The process now is to reach the desired carbonation level in a controlled manner. The goal is to emit small, low velocity bubbles from the carbonation stone. This will give them the best chance of being fully absorbed by the beer as they rise towards the headspace. If they rise too fast from a high pressure differential, they will not absorb into solution, and thus your head pressure will falsely indicate the level of carbonation you have achieved. This is accomplished by incrementally increasing the regulator pressure with a dwell time between the adjustments. You should aim to adjust the regulator by no more than a 1/4 turn every hour. Repeat this step until the head pressure reads about 1 psi low from your desired reading.
  7. Let the beer sit for a day or two at the last regulator setting. During this time that last psi of head pressure should be reached and the CO2 will have time to balance and take a set in solution. Your should now be ready to serve.

Hope this helps
Great info! That definitely helps.
 

slidingmike

Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2020
Messages
15
Reaction score
0
Location
San Francisco
@Advance, this is super helpful.

Would adding a valved quick disconnect to the tube between tank & stone help reduce the number of purges that you need to do if you are multitasking with your CO2 tank (say, also using it to purge hop additions, for example)?
 

Advance

Active Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2019
Messages
36
Reaction score
15
@Advance, this is super helpful.

Would adding a valved quick disconnect to the tube between tank & stone help reduce the number of purges that you need to do if you are multitasking with your CO2 tank (say, also using it to purge hop additions, for example)?
I don't think a valved QD is going to help you with much outside of just making the connections a bit quicker. Not much CO2 is required to purge tubing so you wont be saving much by adding a QD. IMO you are just adding an additional point of failure to your system without much benefit. Another problem you more than likely would face is returning your regulator setting to where it was at the time you interrupted the carbonation process. If you must overlap tasks, you would be much better served by utilizing a dual regulator setup or two separate CO2 tanks+regulators. Your other better option is to time your tasks so they do not have to overlap.
 
Top