Bottled too early

What went wrong? Was this supposed to happen? Should I throw it out? What do I do now?

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Bottled too early

Postby mdbrewer » Mon Nov 21, 2005 6:45 pm

Well, I realized that I probably bottled my ale too early. This is my first brew (True Brew Irish Stout) and I followed the instructions saying that I could bottle after one week. I had not seen any bubbles for several days, so I thought it was all good.

However, after I finished bottling I realized that maybe I should have measured the gravity *before* bottling. Anyway, I took a measurement and it was pretty high ~ 1.025. So since I had finished the bottling, I started to get nervous and think I may have exploding bottles any day soon. Since two of the beers are in Grolsch style bottles and I just opened one (26 hrs since bottling), it gave a got "pop" when opening, but no fountain of beer.

I called my brew shop, and he told me to pour all the beer back in the fermenting bucket, and add new yeast. However, I keep reading that you should NOT add oxygen to the beer, which will be difficult if I pour them all back. There is also the problem of risking contamination. So, I'm looking for advice on what to do.

I have the following options as I see it:

1. Wait and see if my bottles will explode. :?

2. Do as my brew shop recommended. I.e. empty the bottles and start the fermenting again.

3. Remove the caps and recap the bottles in a couple of days. But how do I know when to do it?

From now on, I will use the hydrometer
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Re: Bottled too early - risking exploding bottles?

Postby Push Eject » Mon Nov 21, 2005 7:32 pm

Don't panic. Don't pour everything back into a fermentor just yet.

First, what was your OG? What yeast did you use? And, perhaps most importantly, how does it taste? Is it syrupy-sweet or does it actually taste like a stout?

According to the official BJCP Style Guidelines, Sweet Stout can have an FG as high as 1.022. http://www.mv.com/ipusers/slack/bjcp/styleguide16.html

If the beer is tasty, but you are really worried that your yeast are still active and might create enough pressure to blow your bottles, just keep them cool while they carbonate (open one every two or three days to check), then put them in a fridge when carbonated to your liking. The yeast will go dormant and you won't have to worry about them blowing.

If it is sickeningly sweet, then your fermentation really wasn't done and you'll want to give the little buggers more time.

Here's what I would do assuming a healthy primary fermenation and good yeast (I fully expect everyone to disagree with me here, btw).
DO NOT aerate your beer. At this stage of the game your yeast are in an anerobic portion of their life-cycle and oxygen will only add off-flavors and a buttery, diactyl (sp?) taste.
I would sanitize 50 (assuming a 5 gal batch) 4-5 inch squares of aluminum foil. Pop the tops on your bottles and squeeze the foil over them. Keep things calm and don't jostle things about (re: oxygen). Let them sit in a cool, dark and clean place for a week and check gravity again. Drop some priming tablets in (don't bother trying to cook up sugar and pour some into each bottle, you'll kill yourself) and re-cap.

That's what I would do, but I'm a lazy b@stard... who brews really tasty beer. :)

Cheers,
Charlie
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First Brew

Postby BillyBock » Wed Nov 23, 2005 6:45 pm

I wouldn't panic either. It's not uncommon for your first brew, especially one made with an extract, to have a higher finishing gravity than intended. There are a lot of things that go into determining the final gravity--health and viability of the yeast, fermentability of the wort, temperatures, etc. It would help to see the recipe and your starting gravity, but it's entirely possible your ferment is done. I had a stout that finished at 1.022. Aerating your batch at this point is bad.

A cheap way to check is to take one of your bottles and pour in into a clean/sanitized plastic soda bottle and cap it. As the beer carbonates the bottle will pressurize and get firm. Give it the old Charmin squeeze test--it should be firm, but give a little when you squeeze (kind of like a new soda bottle). If shouldn't be hard as a freakin' rock. Keep the rest of the batch cool during this test to slow them down.

Another approach is to uncap all the bottles to de-pressurize them, and then re-cap them maybe after a few days.

As a rule of thumb, when I ferment ales I'll let the primary go to 2 weeks to ensure completion of the main ferment. When I make lagers, 4 weeks is typical in the primary.
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