Flat Beer

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

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Flat Beer

Postby johnbarley » Fri Jan 24, 2003 3:40 pm

I popped a bottle of Pale Ale open and the beer tasted watery and had little carbonation. This was my second batch I've ever made and since I've been reading a lot of "experts" ways of doing things I think I know what happen. I'm hoping you guys, being the true experts, can help me. So here is my conclusion: After I bottled I let it sit in my basement (near my furnace chimney) where the temp was around 60 degrees for about 2 weeks. Then I put it in the fridge which I have set low. I then read not to do this and took them out ASAP and left it on the basement floor. Did I kill the last bit of yeast?
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Happened to me, too!

Postby Save The Ales » Fri Jan 24, 2003 5:33 pm

As it turns out this problem did not happen to me until I got my own fridge. I'd try leaving them in a warmer place for a couple of weeks and see if the yeast has "awakened". If not, you can read down a few messages to see what others have done or you can mix some flat beer with carbonated beer.

Hope this helps,

Paul
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Yeast is pretty Hearty

Postby Azorean Brewer » Sat Jan 25, 2003 1:34 pm

Hi, I had the same problem in the early 90's when there was no internet to ask for help. I asked my local supplier. He told me to put the bottles in a room temp. place and gently turn each bottle upside give each one a shake. This will get the yeast excited enough to start eating any residual sugar avaiilabe and give you some carbonation. I did it for one week shaking each bottle everytwo days and then let them rest for a week and I never knew I had a problem. Try this ...

In the future, you can cold condition your beer for one to two weeks in the carboy, then take it out of the fridge for two days before bottling, then leave the bottles at room temp for two weeks before cold conditioning them again.

Hope all this info helps,

Paul, (a.k.a. Azorean Brewer)
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Priming

Postby jayhawk » Sat Jan 25, 2003 3:13 pm

Two weeks at room temp should be long enough to carbonate beer. Did you prime the beer with some form of fermentable like dextrose or malt extract? IF you didn't, then the beer won't carbonate. (Just thought i would ask...think of it as checking to make sure there is gas in your tank before calling a tow truck.)

Chris
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Thanks

Postby johnbarley » Sat Jan 25, 2003 4:20 pm

When I bottled I did prime w/sugar. I'm pretty sure I mixed it in good. I did shake it on Friday nite after I posted since I did read that somewhere. But I gave them a vigorous shake. They are sitting in my basement do you think I should move them upstairs? One other thing. I boiled the wort in the begining for the first time on my propane cooker and my boil was very vigourous. So I had to add more water than my last batch. I'll see what happens with the shake and if this does not help maybe pop each bottle and add yeast and sugar. One good thing: I made a Nut Brown Ale right before this and this came out VERY good. Good carb. and taste good!
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Watch out

Postby jayhawk » Sat Jan 25, 2003 4:45 pm

Good to here you have had good brewing results. If you do not get carbonation after shaking, it is a good idea to add a few granules of dry yeast to each bottle and recap. Since you have already primed the batch DO NOT ADD MORE SUGAR to each bottle. Since carbonation has not occurred, the is still sugar availible for the yeast and any additional sugar will lead to overcarbonation (makes a brown ale like Coca-Cola) or worse, exploding bottles. I have used the dry yeast trick a couple of times with excellent results when batches have failed to carbonate. I guess sometimes the yeast just gets tuckered out.

A vigorous boil is a good thing. There is nothing wrong with adding more water after the boil to achieve desired volume and/or specific gravity. (just make sure the water is free of contaminants, i.e. boil it first).
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Thanks

Postby johnbarley » Sat Jan 25, 2003 5:11 pm

Thanks for the info. Sure don't need bottles shooting off like rockets in the basement.
One question about the vigorous boil- you say its good but I thought that the evaporation rate was about 8-10%. So if I do a 2 gallon boil then I should only loose a little bit of water I'm sure I lost more than that! But I guess I'll see what happens w/the shake and if needed the added yeast.

Drinking one of the Nut Browns now YUM!
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Debunking

Postby jayhawk » Sat Jan 25, 2003 7:26 pm

I used to account for the 10% of boil off, but I found that figure to be bunk. Since I started using a propane burner, I always end up boiling off way more than 10%. I now don't worry about what I boil off and just top up at the end. This also saves me fuel and boiling time. It takes longer to boil the larger volume when trying to compensate for the boil off. Instead I throw a large pot of water on my kitchen stove while I boil my beer. I then use this water to top off the batch at the end.

There are many reasons while a vigorous boil is important. I am sure that if you searched "boil" here, the archives would give you some tidbits. A lot of homebrewing books also talk about the importance of a good boil.

Drinking a kolsh right now...chilling a Pale
Chris
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Boil-off rates...

Postby HomeBrew » Wed Jan 29, 2003 2:27 am

I do exactly the same thing, Chris, and I agree with your finding of the percent boil off.

There are just too many variables (BTU output, gravity of the wort, even altitude) to correctly assume any boil-off rate not empirically derived, and I have to attend to enough details already...

I usually start at 5.5 gallons, boil this for the prescribed amount of time, and make up the volume with pre-boiled water after cooling and racking to the fermenter...
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