VERY low carbonation in bottles - is my remedy ok?

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ezatnova

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I was makign a Cream Stout, and purposefully added only about 1/3 cup of sugar into the batch before bottling, because I didn't think this should be a heavily carbonated beer. I wanted something thick and creamy, not fizzy and bitey. What I didn't think of was that I don't have nitrogen injection when I pour my beer out of the bottle, unlike Guinness, Murphey's, etc! So, after 3 weeks of sitting, the bottles give only faint "pfff" when opened and even when poured aggresively, barely form any bubbles. There is no "head" to speak of. The taste is fantastic, but it's just darn near FLAT.

Rather than continue to drink them "flat", or worse yet, scrap the batch, I thought of a solution that might work and tried it last night. I took the remaining 1/2 cup or so of sugar from this batch's kit and disolved that in 1 cup of boiling water. That measured about 220 ml when finished. I divided that by the 27 bottles I had left, and that came to roughly 8 ml of sugar water per bottle. One by one I opened the bottles (felt like a bar tender!) and injected each, using a plastic measuring syringe, with the 7-8 ml of warm sugar water. Then I capped them back up as quickly as I could.

So, does this stand a chance to "spark" some yeasties into life again and make some carbonation? I guess I'm also risking over carbonating for this type of beer...but better than flat like they were I guess. Hopefully it does something! I wasn't sure if this method is useless or perhaps tried and true.

On a related note, I did put this batch in a secondary for a week or so before bottling, so it is super clear and free of resudue. Still, I would expect to see SOME caking on the bottom of the bottles due to bottle-fermentation, and there is NONE. I'm sure this is corrolated with the lack of carbonation. I'm hoping it's just a case of dormant yeast since I didn't give them much sugar to snack on the first time around. The batch fermented and developed wonderfully, so I don't think it's that there was something wrong with that part of the process.

Thanks!
Jeff
 

Evan!

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Well, the general idea works, but your execution seems flawed. Think about it. You put in 1/3 cup of sugar. The pfft means that those yeasts fermented out that sugar. When you opened the bottles, you released that small amount of CO2. When you add back another 1/2 cup, you'll only have about 1/2 cup worth of carbo---still low. Maybe I'll be wrong, and there will still be some CO2 dissolved in the beer, though.

In the future, make it easier on yourself---get some Munton's Carb Tabs and drop those in rather than the syringe technique.
 

malkore

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I'm with Evan. adding more will improve the carbonation, but because you're releasing the pressure in the headspace, you're losing some of the pressure from the first batch.

so i'd add a little more than what you'd need to hit the original amount you should of used...but probably no more than a tablespoon of extra sugar.
 

shafferpilot

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The real trick is to tell us EXACTLY what temp the bottles are sitting at!! If it's 67F or less, I say that's the real problem. Now that your trying out your solution, I suggest you take one bottle and get it up to 75F-80F for about 5 days. Then chill it for a day and try it out. If the amount of sugar is right, that beer will have the head you're looking for. It might not taste quite right due to the high temp, but it will tell you if your solution will work in the long run. Then just make sure the rest of the bottles are between 70F-75F for about 3 weeks and you're golden. The carbing time between bottles at 70F and 67F is HUGE. I have a batch right now that took 2 months to fully carb because my basement sits at around 65F this time of year. No big deal since I have a back stock of around 50 gallons, but I'm guessing you don't have that big of a buffer;)
 

CBBaron

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Evan! said:
Well, the general idea works, but your execution seems flawed. Think about it. You put in 1/3 cup of sugar. The pfft means that those yeasts fermented out that sugar. When you opened the bottles, you released that small amount of CO2. When you add back another 1/2 cup, you'll only have about 1/2 cup worth of carbo---still low. Maybe I'll be wrong, and there will still be some CO2 dissolved in the beer, though.
Not quite. He should be fine as long as his measurements were good. Most of the CO2 in a bottle of beer is dissolved in the liquid and very little is in the head space. If you cool the bottles before opening even less will be in the head space. So a little bit of CO2 did escape but as long as you recap shortly then only a small amount of the total CO2 escaped. Think about it, if you are drinking a 22oz and only pour half into you cup initially, does the rest of the bottle go flat before you can finish it off? Even leaving the beer in the fridge for a couple hours only has a small effect on the carbonation of the remaining beer.
Coopers tabs are still an easier way to measure the sugar on a per bottle basis but as long as you are very careful in measuring the sugar addition there should be no problem.
Craig
 
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ezatnova

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Thanks all. Very good points and discussion. To answer the question of the temp they are resting at...I'm in PA, so this time of year it's impossible for me to have them sit at anything above 65 or so. I hate cluttering the upstairs with the cases, so I generally toss them int he basement, which is a pretty steady 65. Given that, maybe I should let them sit for a month or so. Hopefully, this isn't too cool that nothing ever really happens to make the carbonation.
 

cd2448

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i'm in south jersey and have the same temp issue, but i put the bottles in cases around the heater and it seems to make the difference, my newer batches are nicely carbed.
 

shafferpilot

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yes, there are always places in your house that see higher temps. snuggle them up next to the heater and maybe wrap some old towels or blankets around the cases. Do you have a heating blanket. get creative you'll figure it out
 

BierMuncher

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ezatnova said:
...it's impossible for me to have them sit at anything above 65 or so...
65 is too cool.

72+ is what you want, and a minimum of 3 weeks.

What's done is done, but I think if you can get those things warmed up (sit them next to a water heater, or somewhere warmer) and give them 3-full-weeks.
 
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