Hardly Any Carbonation After Bottle Conditioning - Question From New Brewer

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T Falconer

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Hi All,

Beginning all-grain brewer here with a carbonation question. My second ever batch (Hefe) seemed to go perfectly through the whole process, but I have almost no carbonation in the final product. Just a tiny little hiss when the bottle top opens, but no carbonation in the glass. The taste and smell are right on, but without the carbonation, it just doesn’t work.

I’m using an Anvil 6.5 gal foundry, which means I’m making around 2.5-3 gal batches. I’m finding I have to cut a lot of recipes in half, as they’re usually written for 5-6 gal batches. (I’ve since discovered brewfather and brewer’s friend, a huge lifesaver).

So with my halved ingredients, my mash and boil went just fine. Cooled it down to 68 degrees and transferred the wort into my fermentor. I then pitched a full pack of WLP300 (overpitching?).

From there it went into a temp controlled fridge at 71 degrees for 2 weeks. Fermentation was active and formed a nice krausen. After fermentation, I cold crashed for 24 hours and then transferred to a new tank to mix with my priming sugar. I used the Northern Brewer priming sugar calculator for my corn sugar ratio. I prepared my priming sugar volume for the current temp of the beer, which was 34 degrees. Not sure if I should have prepared it for the intended bottling temp.

I transferred into bottles that were cleaned with PBW and sanitized with StarSan right before. Once that was done, they were put in the basement to condition for two weeks.

After 2 weeks, I tested one bottle and discovered no carbonation. I also discovered that the constant temp in the basement was a steady 65 degrees. I thought this may be a cause, and moved the bottles upstairs where it was approx 72-75 at all times. After two more weeks of conditioning, there was no change in the carbonation levels.

So I see a few areas where things could have gone wrong:

1: Overpitching the yeast
2: Incorrect priming sugar ratio
3: StarSan in bottles affecting conditioning
4: Low conditioning temp put the yeast to sleep

I’ve written off the batch, but I’d really like to learn where things went wrong so I can improve in the future. I truly appreciate any insight you guys can provide.

Also, I apologize for the long description, but I’ve read through enough homebrew forums to know you guys like your details.

Cheers

T
 
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T Falconer- Welcome!
Here's my answers to your Qs:
1. Nope
2.Probably not. Although you didn't tell us how much sugar you used, the NB calculator is a good one, and has never failed me.
3. Nope. Starsan works well against bacteria, but is actually food for your yeast.
4. Possibly. If so, then you did the right thing by moving the bottles to someplace warm. Also OK to invert the bottles a time or 2 to remix the yeast into suspension.
Here's another, probably better possibility: when you calculate the priming sugar amount, add in the highest temp the beer acheived once fermentaion was done. So if you did a D-rest and raised temps, use that temp. If it sat at a warmer temp for a week or even a day postfermentaion, use that temp. Reason is that CO2 in solution is dependant on temp. Cold beer holds more CO2, warm beer less.
And a final probability: Not enough time. Granted 2 weeks carbonating is pretty standard, but the yeast don't read and they will work at their own speed, not ours.
So, give the bottles a shake, and give them another 2 weeks before giving up.
 

Drewch

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1: Overpitching the yeast
2: Incorrect priming sugar ratio
3: StarSan in bottles affecting conditioning
4: Low conditioning temp put the yeast to sleep
From my limited experience:

1. I don't see how this could affect bottle conditioning.

2. Possible. How confident are you in your measuring? How well did you mix the sugar in? Maybe some of the other bottles are over-carbed. If you know the order you filled them, test another one that you filled earlier or later.

3. I bottle on StarSan foam and have no issues.

4. Maybe. Cold crashing is going to knock a lot of things out of suspension. It's possible you might just need to give it more time and more warmth to finish carbing.

Unless you really need the bottles for something, why not just move then somewhere, like, really warm and see what happens?
 

Tobor_8thMan

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Are the caps for bottles? I ask as a friend thought they had a great deal, savings when they bought caps only to discover the caps were craft caps and not for bottling. They had the same problem, no carbonation as the caps didn't have the liner.

Also, I thought it best to calculate the amount of priming sugar based on the highest temp. Perhaps, your calculations were a bit low leading to a longer than desired time to carbonate.
 
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T Falconer

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T Falconer- Welcome!
Here's my answers to your Qs:
1. Nope
2.Probably not. Although you didn't tell us how much sugar you used, the NB calculator is a good one, and has never failed me.
3. Nope. Starsan works well against bacteria, but is actually food for your yeast.
4. Possibly. If so, then you did the right thing by moving the bottles to someplace warm. Also OK to invert the bottles a time or 2 to remix the yeast into suspension.
Here's another, probably better possibility: when you calculate the priming sugar amount, add in the highest temp the beer acheived once fermentaion was done. So if you did a D-rest and raised temps, use that temp. If it sat at a warmer temp for a week or even a day postfermentaion, use that temp. Reason is that CO2 in solution is dependant on temp. Cold beer holds more CO2, warm beer less.
And a final probability: Not enough time. Granted 2 weeks carbonating is pretty standard, but the yeast don't read and they will work at their own speed, not ours.
So, give the bottles a shake, and give them another 2 weeks before giving up.
Jim - Thanks so much for your insight. I feel you're probably right with your last suggestion. My priming sugar was 3.34 oz for my 3 gal batch size (based on the 34 degree temp it was coming from). The priming sugar would have been 4.49 oz if I calculated for the highest fermentation temp (71). I'm beginning to understand that the smallest changes can have a huge impact.

I'll give the batch some more time, nothing to lose really. If it still doesn't turn out, I at least know how to approach my next batch.
 
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T Falconer

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From my limited experience:

1. I don't see how this could affect bottle conditioning.

2. Possible. How confident are you in your measuring? How well did you mix the sugar in? Maybe some of the other bottles are over-carbed. If you know the order you filled them, test another one that you filled earlier or later.

3. I bottle on StarSan foam and have no issues.

4. Maybe. Cold crashing is going to knock a lot of things out of suspension. It's possible you might just need to give it more time and more warmth to finish carbing.

Unless you really need the bottles for something, why not just move then somewhere, like, really warm and see what happens?
Hi Drewch - Thanks for your suggestions. Regarding #2, I feel I mixed everything well enough, but being so new to this, I question my every step.

I think you're probably right on with #4, I'm going to put the batch someplace warmer and give it some more time. I'm ok with it not working out, as long as I can learn from my mistakes and avoid that particular issue in the future. So far, I'm having fun with experimenting and learning.
 
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T Falconer

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Are the caps for bottles? I ask as a friend thought they had a great deal, savings when they bought caps only to discover the caps were craft caps and not for bottling. They had the same problem, no carbonation as the caps didn't have the liner.

Also, I thought it best to calculate the amount of priming sugar based on the highest temp. Perhaps, your calculations were a bit low leading to a longer than desired time to carbonate.
Tobor - That's a good point re: the caps. I double checked them and they are indeed meant for bottling. As you mentioned, I think the general consensus is becoming that I miscalculated my priming sugar. I calculated for the temp I crashed at, not the highest temp. I see now how that can impact things. Thanks for the assist.
 
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T Falconer

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That's not a bad amount for a 3 G batch, although maybe not in the Hefeweizen range, which tend to be more highly carbonated. A typical 5 G batch of most styles use about 4 oz. of priming sugar. Tincture of time.
That's good to know. I'm realizing that learning to brew is similar to walking along the shoreline. You don't realize how deep the ocean is until you jump in.
 

Drewch

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Hi Drewch - Thanks for your suggestions. Regarding #2, I feel I mixed everything well enough, but being so new to this, I question my every step.

I think you're probably right on with #4, I'm going to put the batch someplace warmer and give it some more time. I'm ok with it not working out, as long as I can learn from my mistakes and avoid that particular issue in the future. So far, I'm having fun with experimenting and learning.
Hopefully it'll work out. 🤞 I've gradually reduced my batch size all the way down to 4L so that I can experiment more without worrying about it not working out 👍.
 

rburrelli

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You calculate your priming sugar amount by the highest temperature reached post fermentation. I know there is debate about this but it always works for me. Does not matter what current temperature might be.
 
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T Falconer

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You calculate your priming sugar amount by the highest temperature reached post fermentation. I know there is debate about this but it always works for me. Does not matter what current temperature might be.
rburrelli - Thank you greatly for the clarification. Your, and everyone else's, answers have saved a lot of future brews.
 

Bill Tong

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2. Possible. How confident are you in your measuring? How well did you mix the sugar in?
Im with @Drewch on this one. You said you used 3.34 oz in 3 g, i would have used around 2.5.

I had a batch where during the transfer to the bottling bucket the priming sugar did not mix properly. First beer gushed out and all others had almost no carbonation.

I think it was a combination of two things (1) transfer tube not long enough and fermenter not high enough to create a proper swirling action and (2) too little water used in the priming solution. I now use about 13.5 fluid ounces for the priming solution and always give a gentle stir with a sanitized spoon.
 

andersk

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Are you using standard bottles? What kind of capper?

I only ask because I had the same thing happen with one of my early batches. Decided to use stubby bottles for the look and had a hand capper… caps didn’t get a full seal (although they really seemed like they did). The priming sugar was fine and a few bottles sealed and carbed but a lot had the smallest leak that left them flat

If you plan on bottling a lot, I’d maybe suggest getting a bench capper just so you know that’s not part of the equation.
 

Drewch

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Or, if you're using standard 12oz longnecks, these actually work pretty well.


But they only fit that one style of bottle 😔.
 
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T Falconer

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Im with @Drewch on this one. You said you used 3.34 oz in 3 g, i would have used around 2.5.

I had a batch where during the transfer to the bottling bucket the priming sugar did not mix properly. First beer gushed out and all others had almost no carbonation.

I think it was a combination of two things (1) transfer tube not long enough and fermenter not high enough to create a proper swirling action and (2) too little water used in the priming solution. I now use about 13.5 fluid ounces for the priming solution and always give a gentle stir with a sanitized spoon.

That’s a good point Bill, thank you. I’ll definitely be more attentive with making sure my priming solution is mixed in well enough on the next batch (which I'm hoping will be this weekend).

If I remember correctly, I mixed my sugar with 8 fluid oz of water. Would this be considered too little of an amount for the 3 gal batch?
 
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T Falconer

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Are you using standard bottles? What kind of capper?

I only ask because I had the same thing happen with one of my early batches. Decided to use stubby bottles for the look and had a hand capper… caps didn’t get a full seal (although they really seemed like they did). The priming sugar was fine and a few bottles sealed and carbed but a lot had the smallest leak that left them flat

If you plan on bottling a lot, I’d maybe suggest getting a bench capper just so you know that’s not part of the equation.

Thanks andersk - I’m using the 12 oz standard long neck bottles with a hand capper. I decided on the hand capper merely out of cost, but I really do like those bench cappers. In your experience, do they offer a more consistent seal, or is it just a more convenient way of bottling? Either way, that may be my next equipment purchase.
 

andersk

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Thanks andersk - I’m using the 12 oz standard long neck bottles with a hand capper. I decided on the hand capper merely out of cost, but I really do like those bench cappers. In your experience, do they offer a more consistent seal, or is it just a more convenient way of bottling? Either way, that may be my next equipment purchase.
In my experience they offer a way better seal. With standard bottles the hand capper may work just as well, but with any other varieties or if you're cleaning branded bottles and re-using the bench capper is a huge improvement and more flexible (IMO).

I was hesitant to buy one for the same reason and bought the hand capper first because of cost. Feels like wasted money now but you learn¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 

Dancy

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[="JimRausch, post: 9142785, member: 104856"]And a final probability: Not enough time. Granted 2 weeks carbonating is pretty standard, but the yeast don't read and they will work at their own speed, not ours.
So, give the bottles a shake, and give them another 2 weeks before giving up.
[/QUOTE]
+1 on this. I bottle only and though two weeks is often adequate, I’ve experienced significant improvement after 3-4. And yes, shake the bottles a bit.
 

DuncB

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I squirt the measured amount of dissolved sugar in boiled water via syringe into each bottle before filling.
Pour out starsan, squirt in sugar solution and then put bottle on side ready to be filled.
Reduces chance of bottle being missed at priming stage and it all gets mixed nicely as the bottle fills.
 

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I'm not sure if you included this earlier or not, but how many volumes of CO2 did you input in the priming sugar calculator? Most American beers are 2.3-2.6 vol, but some European styles are much lower or much higher depending. And +1 to entering the highest temperature the beer has been post fermentation, not the temperature the beer was at during bottling.

Some people will add sugar individually to bottles versus stirring into the whole batch to avoid a lack of mixing, but I find that it adds too many extra steps for me, even in a 2.5 gallon batch. Just throwing it out there if you want to look into it :) cheers! I bet you'll knock it out of the park next brew
 
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T Falconer

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I'm not sure if you included this earlier or not, but how many volumes of CO2 did you input in the priming sugar calculator? Most American beers are 2.3-2.6 vol, but some European styles are much lower or much higher depending. And +1 to entering the highest temperature the beer has been post fermentation, not the temperature the beer was at during bottling.

Some people will add sugar individually to bottles versus stirring into the whole batch to avoid a lack of mixing, but I find that it adds too many extra steps for me, even in a 2.5 gallon batch. Just throwing it out there if you want to look into it :) cheers! I bet you'll knock it out of the park next brew
Thanks for your thoughts Sunfire96, the Northern Brewer calculator listed the Hefe at 3.6 vol of CO2.

I'll be brewing my next batch (3rd ever!) this weekend. With everyones help on this thread, I now feel much more confident in a successful and tasty batch.
 

PberBob

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Re swing-tops

Swing-tops are easy to seal and open, but they a couple of minor drawbacks. 1). They don’t scavenge oxygen like crown caps, 2) the seals are annoying to remove/clean+sanitize/replace, and 3) bigger upfront cost (you’ll want them back from your friends.
 
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