Recommended carbonation levels?

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Recommended carbonation levels?

Postby billvelek » Wed Jan 10, 2007 7:36 pm

Since I've been focusing on carbonation in my last couple of posts, now seems like a good time to resurrect a feature request that I believe I made earlier, and expand on it just a little.

Probably for the average brewer, the standard 3/4 cups of sucrose per 5 gallon batch will suffice; it has for me for years, but mostly because I didn't know how much to vary the primer to achieve a specific level of carbonation, didn't know what the best carbonation level was for a particular style, and I didn't have a kegging system, either. But if carbonation information were easily available to all of us through BTP, I believe it would be fully utilized by most of us to make better beer -- or at least more to style. So I did a little digging in my limited library; Papazian's original '... Joy of Homebrewing' didn't help much, Nachel's 'Homebrewing for Dummies' provided a few general guidelines, and then I found that Papazian's later book -- 'Home Brewer's Companion' -- had some very specific info. I'm sure that there is much more info available in other sources to completely flesh this out. Anyway, to illustrate my point about how useful some guidance would be in this regard, when I use the typical 3/4 cup of sucrose (I weigh it as 6 ounces) in a 5 gallon batch bottled at 70F, BTP says I will end up with 3.6 volumes of CO2. But Marty Nachel ('Homebrewing for Dummies') provides the following general guidelines for carbonation:
British-Style Ales -- 1.75 to 2.5 volumes
American and European Lagers -- 2.25 to 2.75 volumes
Highly carbonated beers (Weizen, Fruit Beers, and Belgian Ales) -- 2.75 to 3.25 volumes
... so I can see that I have definitely been overcarbonating my beer.

Papazian provides specific ranges for 57 different styles/substyles, ranging anywhere from a low of ".75 to 1.13" volumes for English Bitters and Scottish Ales, up to a high of "3.71 to 4.74" volumes for German-style Weizenbock.

Anyway, my request/suggestion is that the recommended carbonation levels be provided in BTP's 'Style Database' and/or 'Style Editor' (there's room for another tab), and to ALSO have BTP's carbonation tool default to the appropriate carbonation level for the type of beer that is being made according to the style selected at the top of the recipe -- or at least provide a 'style' field and some arrow keys for scrolling just the carbonation data according to styles. Then, upon selecting one, BTP would automatically insert the appropriate value in the 'Volumes CO2' field and calculate the 'Priming Agent Mass' based on the final volume of beer, temp, and type of primer being used -- or, for 'forced carbonation', it would calculate the pressure needed.

I hope you find this a worthwhile suggestion, because I'm sure I will use this as one more way to improve my beer. I don't know if other brewing software does this; if so, you need to as well; if not, then you'll be that much better.

Cheers.

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Postby jctull » Wed Jan 10, 2007 11:45 pm

The Beer Judge Certification Program is the source for style information. Currently, there are no guidelines on carbonation other than descriptive ones. I was talking with Gordon Strong the other day (he has been the styles editor for the past few years) about this, and he was not aware of a good source for this information.

Can you cite the specific Papazian book (Homebrewer's Companion?) and page numbers. If these are good values, they may serve as a point to get them included in the BJCP styles. Then, they would surely end up in this and other programs. If you find any other sources, please let us know.

Again, my computer is not in hand so I cannot look at the program. I believe the carbonation calculator allows you to provide a desired CO2 volumes. It would be nice if this could be suggested based on the style. Again, the style guidelines themselves are lacking this information, but that does not preclude putting in an average value based on available information.
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Postby djavet » Thu Jan 11, 2007 9:16 am

I use this and think it's quite useful!
http://hbd.org/brewery/library/YPrimerMH.html

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Papazian's carbonation levels

Postby billvelek » Thu Jan 11, 2007 10:05 am

jctull wrote:Snip ... Can you cite the specific Papazian book (Homebrewer's Companion?) and page numbers. ... snip
Glad to. The title of the book is: "The Home Brewer's Companion" by Charlie Papazian, and the guidelines for each style are on pages 224 through 272. In those guidelines he also provides some other info that I haven't seen before re styles, such as parts per million of Diacetyl (useless info because I don't know how we could measure that), and pH -- which does vary slightly. The book was copyrighted in 1994. Please let me know if there is anything else I can provide.

Cheers.

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Postby slothrob » Thu Jan 11, 2007 10:45 am

John Palmer's recommendations in How To Brew:

British ales 1.5-2.0
Porter, Stout 1.7-2.3
Belgian ales 1.9-2.4
American ales 2.2-2.7
European lagers 2.2-2.7
Belgian Lambic 2.4-2.8
American wheat 2.7-3.3
German wheat 3.3-4.5
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Postby jctull » Thu Jan 11, 2007 2:29 pm

I emailed the details to Gordon. There may be some current styles that are not covered in the Papazian book, such as Flander's sourc, but I do not have my copy here at work to see. Perhaps enough of the data will be available to fill most of the gaps.

Palmer's values are too general in my opinion. I have used them for guidance before, but 1.9-2.4 is simply too low for "Belgian Ales." Many tripels and strong Belgian ales are 4-5 volumes, hence the thick bottles. That is just one example of how his numbers are problematic.
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Postby slothrob » Thu Jan 11, 2007 5:17 pm

True that Palmer's values are low for some Belgians; I don't know if they've been updated in the new edition. Frankly, I think plenty of American Ales are around 3.0 volumes. Papazian's 0.75-1.13 for Bitters would be true only for cask conditioned beers, I'd guess. (What's that, about 1.5 oz./5 gal?)

I posted those so that Bill could see that some brewing authorities do believe that carbonation levels of 3.6 volumes or more are justified for some styles.
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Here is Papazian's list of carbonation vs. styles

Postby billvelek » Thu Jan 11, 2007 7:24 pm

ALES: -- CO2 VOLUMES
Barley Wine:
" Barley Wine -- 1.3 to 2.3

Belgian Specialty:
" Flanders Brown -- 1.9 to 2.5
" Dubbel -- 1.9 to 2.4
" Trippel -- 1.9 to 2.4
" Belgian Ale -- 1.9 to 2.5
" Belgian Strong Ale -- 1.9 to 2.4
" White -- 2.1 to 2.6
" Lambic Gueuze -- 3.0 to 4.5
" Lambic Faro -- ?
" Lambic Fruit -- 2.6 to 4.5

English Bitter:
" English Ordinary -- 0.75 to 1.3
" English Special -- 0.75 to 1.3
" English Extra Special -- 0.75 to 1.3

Scottish Ale:
" Scottish Light -- 0.75 to 1.3
" Scottish Heavy -- 0.75 to 1.3
" Scottish Export -- 0.75 to 1.3

Pale Ale:
" Classic English Pale Ale -- 1.5 to 2.3
" India Pale Ale -- 1.5 to 2.3
" American Style Pale Ale -- 2.26 to 2.78

English & Scottish Strong Ale:
" English Old Ale / Strong Ale -- 1.5 to 2.3
" Strong Scotch Ale -- 1.5 to 2.3

Brown Ale:
" English Brown Ale -- 1.5 to 2.3
" English Mild Ale -- 1.3 to 2.0
" American Brown Ale -- 1.5 to 2.5

Porter:
" Robust Porter -- 1.8 to 2.5
" Brown Porter -- 1.7 to 2.5

Stout:
" Classic Dry Irish -- 1.6 to 2.0
" Foreign Style -- 2.3 to 2.6
" Sweet Stout -- 2.0 to 2.4
" Imperial Stout -- 1.5 tp 2.3

LAGERS:
Bock:
" Traditional German Dark -- 2.2 to 2.7
" Helles Bock -- 2.16 to 2.73
" Doppelbock -- 2.26 to 2.62
" Eisbock -- 2.37

Bavarian Dark:
" Munich Dunkel -- 2.21 to 2.66
" Schwarzbier -- 2.2 to 2.6

American Dark:
" American Dark -- 2.5 to 2.7

Dortmund/Export:
" Dortmund/Export -- 2.57

Munich Helles:
" Munich Helles -- 2.26 to 2.68

Classic Pilsener:
" German Pilsener -- 2.52
" Bohemian Pilsener -- 2.3 to 2.5

American Light Lager:
" Diet/"Lite" -- 2.57
" American Standard -- 2.57
" American Premium -- 2.57 to 2.73
" Dry -- 2.6 to 2.7

Vienna/Oktoberfest/Marzen:
" Vienna -- 2.4 to 2.6
" Oktoberfest/Marzen -- 2.57 to 2.73

MIXED STYLE:
German Ale:
" Dusseldorf-style Altbier -- 2.16 to 3.09
" Kolsch -- 2.42 to 2.73

Cream Ale:
" Cream Ale -- 2.6 to 2.7

Fruit Beer:
" Fruit Ale or Lager -- varies

Herb Beer:
" Herb Ale or Lager -- varies

American Wheat:
" American Wheat Beer -- 2.3 to 2.6

Specialty Beers:
" Ales or Lagers -- varies

Smoked Beer:
" Bamberg-style Rauchbier -- 2.16 to 2.57
" Other styles -- ?

California Common;
" California Common Beer -- 2.4 to 2.8

German Wheat Beer:
" Berliner Weisse -- 3.45
" German-style Weizen (Weissbier) -- 3.6 to 4.48
" German-style Dunkelweizen -- 3.6 to 4.48
" German-style Weizenbock -- 3.71 to 4.74

I hope you will find that useful.

Cheers.

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Postby Adeptus » Mon Jan 15, 2007 3:41 pm

They seem to tally with those found here: http://www.tastybrew.com/calculators/carbonation.html

Fairly useful. Up to now (well, yesterday in fact) I've been using Beer Smith, and they also include carbonation guides for each style. They differ slightly from those listed above (they tend to be a little lower I think), but were always very useful nonetheless as the style volumes are displayed beside the desired carbonation textbox as a guide. Might be nice to have this in BTP too :)
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perhaps, there should be a carbonation style slider bar

Postby warthog » Mon Jan 15, 2007 3:54 pm

there you go.

since there is a range for carbonation level for each style, it would be hard (imho) to make the carbonation default to the style's co2 level. however, if in the carbonation tab you could adjust the co2 volumes, and have that reflected on the style tab as a slider; that would work for me.

it would also be cool if priming sugar was listed in the ingredients, and that was reflected in the carbonation tab (i keg, so if it already does this....).

just my take on it.
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Re: perhaps, there should be a carbonation style slider bar

Postby billvelek » Tue Jan 16, 2007 2:42 pm

warthog wrote:there you go.

since there is a range for carbonation level for each style, it would be hard (imho) to make the carbonation default to the style's co2 level. however, if in the carbonation tab you could adjust the co2 volumes, and have that reflected on the style tab as a slider; that would work for me.

it would also be cool if priming sugar was listed in the ingredients, and that was reflected in the carbonation tab (i keg, so if it already does this....).

just my take on it.
First, re your comment about a default value, I noticed that calculator at TastyBrew.com (the link provided by Adeptus) uses the midpoint of the range of carbonation values for a given style. That seems reasonable, and would mark your 'slider bar' right in the middle, although I don't know that a slider bar per se is ready needed. It certainly couldn't hurt, though.

As for your suggestion about primer, I agree that it ought to be able to be included in the ingredients list, especially if BTP manages to integrate an inventory feature that is automatically reduced by additions to the ingredient list. While I generally use sugar, folks who use DME would probably find that more vitally important. However, primer in the ingredient list needs to be 'flagged' or marked in some way so that it is not considered when BTP calculates gravity. While it obviously contributes sugar and therefore alcohol, because it is not used until packaging, it would provide a false OG and FG in the analysis section. ... Actually, on second thought, due to the need to have to flag it, it would probably be better to just have the carbonation calculator have a "DONE" button that would be pressed to reduce inventory by the amount and type of primer. The recipe page could likewise have a "DONE" button to reduce inventory; in other words, playing with a recipe that is never "DONE" would not reduce inventory. The 'Packaging' display could have a "DONE" button to reduce bottlecaps in inventory, too. By the way, I bottled two 5-gallon batches on Saturday, and although I was SURE that I had plenty of caps, I actually discovered that I did NOT while I was looking at my specialty grains the day before for my next brews; I had to drive down to the local Homebrew Shop just to get caps. That was close.

Cheers.

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