Carbonation unpredictability

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EdwardPaulsen

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Hi,
I've noticed a lot of variety in terms of bottle conditioning carbonation in my 30 odd brews,
this seems to be a topic not thoroughly covered in the literature so I've found.

Symptoms include:
-radically different times to reach carbonation (1 week to sometimes 2 months)
-over/undercarbonating

I keep my home 65-75 degrees all year and store all beer in closets.
I prime with corn sugar ~.75 cups for a 5 gallon batch

I realize there are many variables:
-gravity at bottling
-yeast health/type of yeast
-strength of the beers
-conditioning temperature

but these factors seem rarely covered by the standard "rack to secondary for ~2 weeks then bottle with 3/4 cup corn sugar...wait 10 days or longer" that I consistently read.

Anyone have advice for consistency/predictability amid all these variables?

Thanks,
Ed
 

Yooper

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Well, you're right in that various factors play a role. The most important is to ensure the fermentation is indeed done by using the FG measurement as proof.

The other thing I thought of is that priming sugar should be weighed, not measured. Sugar can "pack down", so .75 cups might be 3 ounces today, but 6 ounces tomorrow.
 

blackwaterbrewer

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the only real answer is to be patient and plan out your brewing. if a beer takes one week to mature in the keg/bottle, it will not be harmed by waiting an extra 2 weeks. conversely, a beer that is NOT ready after one week will only benefit by waiting another 2 weeks.

that having been said, when i keg a beer, i taste it every day. regardless. patience is my Everest. i am a moron when it comes to waiting for beers to be ready.
 

TheH2

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That's one of the reasons I went to kegging. Virtually no carbonation after 2 months, tons of carbonation in 6 months, too much for that matter. However, not an infection because not a gusher and they were darn good, outside of being quite a bit carbonated. It still bothers me that I never figured it out. So, good luck. Best advice I got was once they got to the desired level drink heavily.
 

Got Trub?

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Another factor people forget is that your beer already contains CO2 when it finishes fermenting. The amount will depend on its temperature. A good carbonation calculator takes that into consideration when calculating how much priming sugar to add.

GT
 

yeoldebrewer

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Yeah. I'm having a no carb/slow carb issue with a batch of amber ale and have no idea why. I'm still a noob with maybe 15 brews under my belt, but this is the first one that's lagging. The bottles are at abt. 70 deg and I could swear the corn sugar solution went in. Heck of it is, the beer itself tastes darned good.
 

doubleb

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Maybe you added less corn sugar than you think. You could try to swirl a bottle or two and see if they carbonate more quickly. The yeast may need a wake up call.

I'll second the weigh your corn sugar advice. I've had beers overcarbonate very quickly and now I've started to employ a 4oz of corn sugar rule. Some of my beers take a while to carbonate, but that's OK cause I'm gonna be here a while and will drink them eventually. To each their own.
 

doubleb

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BTW, If you had a fridge you could cool them once the desired carb. is reached. I don't have this luxury. I think using less corn sugar promotes a longer good drinking period. In other words, It takes longer to carb. and will also take longer to overcarb.

good luck.
 

MajorTom

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Get an electronic scale and weigh the priming sugar in grams. Problem will be solved. There is no way you can consistently get the right amount of sugar by measuring volume. Time to carb however will still vary depending on brew and conditions.
 

fireface

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This is all great information. My last batch had some iffy carbonation. Now I've got some tricks for future batches.
 

yeoldebrewer

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I'm using pre-measured carbing packs so amounts should be close to the right. I do remember spilling some sugar while emptying it into the boiling pot but it seemed like a negligible amount. (CAUTION: dextrose monohydrate powder really burns!). But maybe more was wasted than it seemed.

I filled a few 16 oz., and two 1 liter PET bottles and the rest were glass. The PETS are finally firming up, but very slowly. The 1 liter bottles are ahead of the rest; a minor mystery.
 

rico567

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Get an electronic scale and weigh the priming sugar in grams. Problem will be solved. There is no way you can consistently get the right amount of sugar by measuring volume. Time to carb however will still vary depending on brew and conditions.
This is excellent advice. I do a lot of baking in addition to brewing, and flour is worse than sugar. The most common reason for variations in result in baking comes by using cup measures (volume) instead of a scale (weight). I never measure by volume except in small amounts of a few teaspoons or tablespoons. In any significant amount, I always use a scale. Electronic scales are inexpensive, highly accurate, and available in a wide variety of models.
 
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EdwardPaulsen

EdwardPaulsen

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thanks everybody.

are volume and weight fairly equivalent?

example: would 3/4 cup of corn sugar for a 5 gallon batch mean we're shooting for 6 oz of corn sugar by weight?

it seemed to me that 6 ounces in WEIGHT was MUCH more than 3/4 of a cup when looking at it.

i noticed jamil has a chart in 'brewing classic styles' by weight that shows the weight being LOWER than you would think.

any tips?
 
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