Why are all my bottles foaming over?

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davarm

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I've had a recurring problem with my last few batches of beer. After being bottled for one month, they have a perfect head and taste excellent. But, after another month, they are excessively carbonated and begin foaming over as soon as I pop the top on the bottle.

I have read the forums and tried to diagnose the problem, but it seems like I'm doing everything right:
  • I don't believe I have contamination problems because the brews actually taste good, after the first month at the very least.
  • Originally, I thought my problem was too high gravity at bottling. The last couple of batches, I have aerated the wort and successfully brought my final gravity down into the lower regions, 1.000 to 1.013. I've done the calculations and determined that I had better than expected attenuation from my yeast.
  • I have followed the 1-2-3 rule, one week primary, two weeks secondary, three or more weeks bottling. The final gravity and clarity in the secondary are usually enough to tell me that I'm not bottling too early.
  • I use approx. 3/4 cups of priming sugar per five gallons, which is normal. I dilute the sugar in water, put the solution in a bottling bucket, and rack the wort on top of it, then stir lightly, so I'm reasonably sure that the bottling sugar is being well distributed.
  • I have at least 1.5" of head room in each bottle.
So, all that being said, I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. This has happened with multiple batches, including wheat, brown ales, etc. Last night, I opened a high gravity double IPA that has been in the bottle for about 1.5 months. So far, every bottle has been excellent, but the one last night foamed over....same old crap, and I was thinking this was my best brew so far. This is starting to get very frustrating.

Any help or recommendations would be well appreciated.
 

Vagrant

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Are you conditioning your bottles in the fridge before you open them? I brewed a belgian once and I opened it without refridgerating it and it foamed slowly all over the place for 3 minutes, easy.

I sample my brews weekly while they're in the bottle to get them conditioned to where I want them. Once they're to my liking, I put them all in the fridge. This will stop the carbonation at a level you want it to be at and should stop yours from foaming over.

Hope this helps.
 
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davarm

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The double IPA that I opened last night has been in the fridge for about two weeks. I put others from the same batch in the fridge at the same time, but the didn't foam over. That seems strange.

You bring up a good point and another question. From what you are suggesting, I would have to keep all my bottles in the refrigerator, and since I usually shoot for 5 to 6 cases in stock, I would have to get an additional refrigerator. Ugh!

If my beer is well fermented in the secondary and I add a specific amount of priming sugar, shouldn't the remaining yeast only react with the added priming sugar? I wouldn't expect it to keep fermenting beyond that for the coming weeks.

However, if that is the case, I may have another issue. I live in Florida, where it gets kind of warm. We try to keep our house temp at 78 degrees or lower, and I keep my cases of homebrew in a dark closet, where hopefully the temp is a little less, but probably never less than 75. Would these temps cause continued fermentation and over carbonation.

Another consideration I have made is using the carb tabs instead of priming sugar. I can use the minimal 3 per bottle and have a little better control. I've used these before with varied success.
 

fireloo

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I've had the same problem with a few bottles of various batches.
My understanding is that it's a slight bacterial infection. Presumably, bacteria introduced after fermentation, say at bottling. The acid and alcohol content is high enough that the bacteria cannot get much of a foothold and dies quickly, but not before affecting the bottled beer.
If I recall you say you dissolve priming sugar in water. Do you boil the solution?
If not it's conceiveable that an infection could be introduced via the priming solution.
Just my best guess.
I'll be watching the tread for possible solutions to solve the same problem for myself.
 

Yooper

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Well, two things come to mind right away for me. No, make it three!

1. Make sure your sg is not just within your target range but also stable for at least three days before bottling. (It sounds like you're ok on that).

2. 1.5 inches of headspace seems like too much. You say "at least" 1.5 inches. Mine is about 1.25 inches or LESS, not more. More headspace means more carbonation.

3. I don't go by cups of priming sugar, I weigh mine. I usually use 4 ounces for a 5 gallon batch, and it's plenty of carbonation. I don't know how much that translates to in percentage of cups, but it sure seems like it's less than 3/4 cups. I'm guessing maybe a half cup? If you have a scale, weigh it out and see if that's the problem. Otherwise, I can go dig up a scale and try it for you and see if that's an issue.

It really doesn't sound like a gusher infection or anything like that to me. Sounds like one of the three possiblilities I mentioned.
 

Castawayales

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I use 2/3 cup of priming sugar at most.

Some recipes I drop as low as 1/2 cup. I drink my beer at a warmer temp. roughly store at 62 (basement), drink at mid 50's (1/2 hour in fridge).

Solved the same problem at my house.
Hope it helps.

Barry
 

Blender

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I would weigh the priming sugar too and use less. I would also double check the accuracy of the hydrometer.
 
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davarm

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Thanks for the great feedback. Do any of you have experience with the Munton's Brew Tabs, or equal? I believe they suggest adding 3 to 5 depending on how much head you desire, so I would probably stick with 3.
 

homebrewer_99

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Once your brew was carbonated nicely you should have placed all of it in the fridge to retard any further carbonation build-up.

Also, if your brew has fermented all the way out you can use less priming sugar and never have to put your bottles in the fridge and they will never be over carbonated. ;)
 

sar881

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Recently my Imperial IPA has been foaming over endlessly when I pop them up. One thing I noticed, however, was that the ones that were stored on their sides were stored on their sides were more likely to fizz over. How are you storing them? Does anyone thing that this can be a reason, or do you think my situation is pure coincidence?
 
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davarm

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sar881 said:
Recently my Imperial IPA has been foaming over endlessly when I pop them up. One thing I noticed, however, was that the ones that were stored on their sides were stored on their sides were more likely to fizz over. How are you storing them? Does anyone thing that this can be a reason, or do you think my situation is pure coincidence?

Not sure. My Double IPA's are all stored vertical in a box; none have been on their sides.

I did open one the other night that was put in the fridge earlier that day, and I did not have the foaming problem.

The last few I bottled from that batch had some extra sludge from the bottom of the fermenter. Now I'm wondering if those are the suspect bottles that are destined to foam over. Does extra sludge in the bottle cause additional carbonation and foaming?
 

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If your priming sugar mixture was not mixed in well, then yes, those last bottles would be overcarbonated. It's not the sludge that causes it, it's the amount of priming sugar. I wouldn't think you'd have any trub though, since you're using a clearing tank and then racking into the bottling bucket. My beer that comes out of the bottling bucket is good to the last drop! (I drink whatever is left that doesn't fit into a bottle.)
 

Mutilated1

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davarm said:
Thanks for the great feedback. Do any of you have experience with the Munton's Brew Tabs, or equal? I believe they suggest adding 3 to 5 depending on how much head you desire, so I would probably stick with 3.

I'm going to try those Munton's Brew Tabs next time I make a Munton's batch. I've used the Cooper's Carbonation drops frequently and they work great.

I think its easier just to mix the priming sugar in all at once though. Its certainly less expensive, usually I get the priming sugar and bottle caps for free when I buy ingredients at the LHBS.

You might try the Cooper's carbonation drops, they're pretty easy and they carbonate a bottle perfectly, but in all honesty you might as well just mix in the priming sugar in the bottling bucket and be done with it.
 

mendlodc

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I am on my 13th batch now and my favorite has a gusher problem too... it's the Griffin Spit IPA from big brew day and perhaps my favorite brew. It is the only one that gushes and it's kind of frustrating. I have to open it and pour it as quickly as possible... the longer I let it "gush" in the bottle the more yeast sediment I stir up. At max I get 9 oz of good beer from each bottle. From reading this thread, I'm thinking this one must have got some sort of infection as all the other variables I see in this thread have been consistent accross all my batches.
 

ryser2k

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Digging up an older thread here but I wanted to add my thoughts. I have been having this same problem with my last several batches and it is really discouraging. My beer tastes great when it's coming out of secondary, but after a month or so in the bottle it gets the "gusher" effect as described above and some off flavors to go with it. I'm no professional taster so I can't really describe the off flavor other than to say that it's a harshness that just makes the beer harder to drink.

It's especially frustrating because I know my methods up to that point are sound and I have made good beer before now...

I will say that I am confident that it's not due to using too much corn sugar or DME... when I'm not using an AHS kit with premeasured corn sugar, I was using a scale to weigh everything.

Also I have noticed the same thing about bottles laying on their side being more prone to gushing than the regular.

I haven't brewed in months now as I've been trying to figure out what the problem might be before I brew again. I have made a carbed Apfelwein using the same equipment and that, at least so far, does not have the same problem as the brews I have made. Of course, the higher ABV of Apfelwein may have something to do with that.

Some ideas:
  1. Bottling bucket is contaminated in some way. It's a plastic "ale pail" with a spigot but is several years old and has some light scratches inside which could be hiding bacteria.
  2. Other parts of the bottling system are contaminated... bottling wand, tubing
  3. Bottles just not clean enough... this was my first though and I think it's unlikely since I have cleaned the hell out of my bottles for the last few batches
  4. Old corn sugar... I don't know if corn sugar has a limited shelf life but I have been dipping into a 5lb bag that I've had for a few years now. However I don't use this for every batch so I think this is also unlikely

I think I may break the brewing drought this weekend and get my Kolsch going, but I'm not sure what I'm going to do when bottling time comes around. Has anyone racked to another carboy and bottled with your autosiphon? Seems like it would be a pain but I don't really want to pick up all new bottling gear unless I know that is really the issue... I've spent quite enough money on this hobby as it is :)

Maybe I should have invested in those Better Bottles after all... actually I think maybe it's time to invest in a kegging system instead of a new bottling bucket :mug:
 

Jamo99

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Similar problem here, but it's not gushing, it's slowly foaming out of the bottle. I'm pretty sure that my problem is from the amount of DME in my priming solution. My problem did not occur until I switched from priming with corn sugar to DME.

I have been measuring my DME to prime based on volume (1 1/2 cups boiled in 1 1/2 cups water). Am I close to the volume of DME that I should be priming with? How much DME by weight should I be using?

Edit: For the record, I'm going to be switching back to using corn sugar for priming, but am wondering these values just in case I need or want to prime with DME in the future. I've only primed with DME for 4 batches, but my experience with corn sugar has been more consistent (and cheaper too!)
 
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davarm

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ryser2k said:
Digging up an older thread here but I wanted to add my thoughts. I have been having this same problem with my last several batches and it is really discouraging. My beer tastes great when it's coming out of secondary, but after a month or so in the bottle it gets the "gusher" effect as described above and some off flavors to go with it. I'm no professional taster so I can't really describe the off flavor other than to say that it's a harshness that just makes the beer harder to drink.

I feel your pain, which is why I posted in the first place. What you describe is exactly what I am experiencing. I've dumped three batches down the drain this year.

Last weekend, I bottled a partial-mash Fat Tire clone from AHS. I took four additional measures to avoid the foaming:

  1. Longer secondary fermentation: I typically follow the 1-2-3 rule, but this time I left the secondary fermenter alone for almost a month before bottling. My final gravity was 1.01, which is fine. I usually have a low gravity reading after 2 weeks, so this may not be the source of the problem.
  2. Clean bottles: I usually just run my bottles through the rinse cycle of the dishwasher. This time I soaked them in water for a day, rinsed them out, then put them in the dishwasher. They were squeaky clean!
  3. Less headroom: I typically stick the spring-loaded bottling wand in the 12 oz. bottle, fill to the brim, then pull the wand out. The displacement leaves about 1 inch of headroom to the cap. I've read where this may be too much, although I've done it that way in the past with no foaming problem. This time, I depressed the wand at the top of the bottle and filled a little more so there was only about 1/2" of headroom.
  4. Carb Tabs: There are lots of threads on how much corn sugar to use, and varying opinions on how much is too much. This time, I used three Munton's carb tabs per bottle, which is supposed to result in a light head.
We'll see what happens. If I have a good batch, I won't know the real common denominator.

If I have foamig on this batch, I will be looking for another hobby.
 

Joker

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I haven't had them foam over in the bottle but I have had a brew that no matter how carefully they were poured would foam real bad. It was an IPA and after reading all this I am voting I over sugared the priming solution.
 

Erik the Anglophile

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I had the same, tasted a brew that had been bottle conditioning for about 2.5 weeks, no gusher but there was foam slowly rising in the bottle neck. As soon as I started pouring it calmed down and behaved normally though. No off flavours so I suppose it got a bit agitated because of uneven pressure or something, will let it sit for a few weeks more and see.
 

TheUmpteenth

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Still trying to find a solution to, or even a reason for the slow foam overs. It's not an infection as far as I can tell, but it's not all bottles either
 

CharlaineC

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A few questions come to mind before I begin.
1. Is this during the conditioning time?
2. How are you priming?
3. What are you using to prime and how much?
4. How are you carbonating?
5. How long are you letting them sit?
6. What is the temperature of the area you condition in and is it stable?
7. Are you following the 1.5" headspace or the 2" headspace rule.
8. Are you cold crashing before testing?

I've had this happen esp when I'm conditioning in an area that has inconsistent temps. When I have had this happen in the past it's because the bottle still has active yeast in it and had not fully carbonated the bottle yet. I have found that if let them sit longer (about 6 weeks or more) the over-foaming stops. I was taught that this can also be a sign that you're not mixing your priming mix in well and some bottles contain more sugars than others.
 
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TheUmpteenth

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1. Is this during the conditioning time?
2. How are you priming?
3. What are you using to prime and how much?
4. How are you carbonating?
5. How long are you letting them sit?
6. What is the temperature of the area you condition in and is it stable?
7. Are you following the 1.5" headspace or the 2" headspace rule.
8. Are you cold crashing before testing?
1. Honestly, I usually only leave 2 weeks bottle conditioning time, so that could contribute. It's after 4 weeks in some cases, though.
2. boiled water table sugar solution, using a priming calculator, and a sanitised jug and spoon, which might be a bit overkill, but maybe I should boil the solution, not just the water?
3. As above, table sugar, amount depends on the brew.
4. bottles upright in a storage closet.
5. 2 weeks
6. High-low thermometer shows 21-23°C
7. 1.5", but I wasn't aware that it was a guideline, it's just the way it works out.
8. No
 

CharlaineC

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1. Honestly, I usually only leave 2 weeks bottle conditioning time, so that could contribute. It's after 4 weeks in some cases, though.
2. boiled water table sugar solution, using a priming calculator, and a sanitised jug and spoon, which might be a bit overkill, but maybe I should boil the solution, not just the water?
3. As above, table sugar, amount depends on the brew.
4. bottles upright in a storage closet.
5. 2 weeks
6. High-low thermometer shows 21-23°C
7. 1.5", but I wasn't aware that it was a guideline, it's just the way it works out.
8. No
The 1.5 or 2" is more of a guideline than a rule to prevent overpressure.
The table sugar could be your issue imop. I've never had a good experience using table sugar as my priming agent. Try switching to DME or Corn sugar and see if that still causes some to do the same thing.
Try conditioning for 6 weeks. I know how hard that can be to wait but it might help as well.
finally, toss the beer you want to test in the fridge for an hour or two before testing. this will halt any active fermentation.
 
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