Bottle Carbonation

Physics, chemistry and biology of brewing. The causes and the effects.

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Bottle Carbonation

Postby rjcortez » Sat Feb 25, 2012 8:08 pm

I'm using 3/4 cup of corn sugar boiled in 2 cups of water for 15 minutes which I cool down to the same temp as the 5 gals of extract beer to be bottled.

I usually rack to a secondary for a week at least before bottling.

I've had several batches now that even after 3 weeks don't have the amount of carbonation I would like and have very little head or head retention obviously.

This has happened in several different styles using different yeasts.

My question is am I filtering out too much of the yeast by using the secondary or is there other things I should be looking at?

Thanks in advance for your help.
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Carbonation

Postby slothrob » Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:46 am

There should be plenty of yeast left to carbonate the beer.

At what temperature are you keeping the bottles?
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Re: Carbonation

Postby rjcortez » Sun Feb 26, 2012 4:31 pm

slothrob wrote:There should be plenty of yeast left to carbonate the beer.

At what temperature are you keeping the bottles?


Keeping them in the same room with the fermenters which is 70f
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Carbonation

Postby slothrob » Sun Feb 26, 2012 8:12 pm

It sounds like you just need to try waiting a little longer. You can also try inverting the bottles once to resuspend the yeast. This may help them finish turning the priming sugar into Co2.

I suppose the upside is that you have probably reduced the yeast enough to minimize the sediment on the bottom of the bottle.

Another thing you can try is putting a bottle in the fridge for a few days to give the CO2 a little time to fully dissolve in the beer. Sometimes this seems to help early on, before the CO2 has fully dissolved from the headspace.
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Postby rjcortez » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:26 am

Thanks slothrob for the ideas, I'll give them a shot. The hardest one is going to be patience though, and that's the one it sounds like is most likely the culprit.
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carbonating with wort

Postby slothrob » Mon Feb 27, 2012 6:06 am

Patience is the key to bottle conditioning. They should carbonate in 2-3 weeks, but sometimes they just don't.

You could intentionally bring a little yeast over to the bottling bucket during the transfer, or even add a little dried yeast to the bucket at bottling (I've heard ~1g/5 gallon recommended). But there really should be enough yeast remaining in suspension after only a month. You can tell that there is yeast there, because the beer is partially carbonating, just not completely.

I suppose another possibility is that you want more carbonation than that amount of sugar will give you. 3/4 cup is about 5 oz, I think, which should give 2.77 volumes of CO2 in 5 gallons, though, which should be around the carbonation that you are used to in most craft beer or even a little higher.
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Patience

Postby rjcortez » Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:54 pm

The more I think about it the more convinced that I'm just not giving the process enough time. Different recipes, different yeast, same problem unless there is something in the way I'm handling wort moving from primary to secondary to bottling, patience is the logical cause of the problem.

Just going to slow down the process. Leave beer in primary until it reaches FG goal or flattens out over a few days before transferring to secondary. Leave in secondary long enough to clear before bottling. Then simply wait. At least 2 weeks before trying, give it 4 weeks before saying thats the best it's going to get.

I bought some Dechutes Red Chair the other night (excellent beer by the way I thought) and it didn't seem to be any more carbonated than what I'm complaining about in my own brews. Perhaps I'm being too critical. I think I'll take some to my local brew club meeting and get some feedback.

Thanks again for your thoughts. I appreciate it.
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