Flat Bottled Amber

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

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Flat Bottled Amber

Postby McHoppy » Thu Apr 28, 2005 10:19 pm

I just popped the first top off my bottled Amber and it was flat. I was afraid this may happen. The recipe called for it to be conditioned in the secondary at 40 degrees for 15 days, then bottle condition at the same temp for another 14 days. However, I know the yeast would be inactive at this temp, so I conditioned at 65 for 3 days, 55 for 5 days, and 40 6 days. I thought these temps would keep the yeast active enough to carbonate...guess not. I need the beer for my wedding in 3 weeks. So whatever I do to correct this has to work on the first shot. I'm thinking that the long cold secondary ferm dropped most of the yeast out, so I'm going to add a bit of dry yeast to the bottles and let them condition another 2 weeks at 65 degrees. What do you guys think? I'm afraid if I just warm the bottles back up that there isn't enough yeast left to do the job. Oh yeah, how much dry yeast do you guys think I should add to 4 gals?

Thanks, I'm freakin out!
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Postby BillyBock » Fri Apr 29, 2005 1:38 am

McHoppy: Hmmm...sounds like a dilemma. I'm assuming this is an ale, and that you batch primed in a bottling bucket or the sort when you bottled the batch. There's normally plenty of yeast to do the job (even after chilling)...so I think the first thing you should do is look at the bottom of a random sample of bottles while holding it up to the light. You should see a yeast layer. If you shake the bottle it should get stirred up and cloud the beer. If this happens, then you're ok. Just shake all the bottles and place them at room temperature for at least 2 weeks to make sure it's carbonated. If there's no yeast layer, then you may want to add a few yeast granules to each bottle (it's gonna be a major PITA) and then wait 2 weeks. If you used a lager yeast, it will work at those temperatures, but slower than an ale yeast. Bring it to room temperature to speed things up.
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RE: Flat Bottled Amber

Postby McHoppy » Fri Apr 29, 2005 3:22 pm

Thanks for your insight BillBock.

Yes, it's an ale. I used a german ale yeast. I've checked the bottles for the yeast layer, there is none. I recall when I tranfered from the secondary to the bottling bucket that the secondary had a thick slime layer unlike any I've seen in my other brews that hadn't been chilled this way. I don't believe there is enough yeast left, and it probably wouldn't hurt to add yeast at this point. So, I guess my question now is how much dry yeast to add to 4 gal. There shouldn't be much, if any, O2 in the bottles for the yeasties to muliply. Maybe I sould whip up a starter from the dry yeast and put a bit in each bottle. This scares me as I do not what to add any more sugar, as I've already added 3/4 cup corn sugar.
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Really only one way to do this

Postby richanne » Sun May 01, 2005 8:00 pm

Sanitation is your friend and oxidation is your enemy right now. Really the only way to do this is to gently syphon the beer from the bottles back into a bottling bucket, gently add and stir in a regular-size portion of yeast (yes, from a starter) and then rebottle and allow the bottles to sit at room temperature for a couple weeks. good luck.
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Postby McHoppy » Mon May 02, 2005 11:17 pm

Well richanne, I've pretty much done what you're saying, only without the starter. Its up to the beer gods now. I'll keep you all posted :)

Happy brewing,
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It's All Good

Postby McHoppy » Fri May 13, 2005 11:14 pm

I'm happy to report the beer has finished nicely. I had uncapped the bottles and distributed dry yeast (Munton Gold) into each of the bottles, gave them a good shake and recapped. It's been two weeks and they have a beautiful frothy head. I left them at room temperature this time, about 70 deg, instead of cold conditioning like the original recipe called for. The yeast layer in the bottles is pretty heavy, but I think after a week or two of refrigeration the yeast should layer should harden.

I appreciate the advice from you guys. The message boards here help keep me motivated to continue with this hobby.

Always happy brewing,
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Flat Bottled Amber (Take two)

Postby McHoppy » Wed Dec 07, 2005 12:33 am

We brewed this beer (Amber Ale) again to celebrate the announcement of our pregnancy. My goal this time was to let the bottles condition longer, as suggested on this forum, to determine if they would carbonate properly after the cold conditioning in the seconday (15 days at 40 degrees). So, for this go around I added additional yeast (Munton Gold Dry) to only half the bottles. After three weeks of bottle conditioning there is a striking difference in carbonation. The bottles I added dry yeast to almost foam over when you pop the cap. The un-yeasted bottles hardly have carbonation, but enough to drink. I believe the un-yeasted bottles are a bit sweeter. Would it make sense to leave the un-yeasted bottles at room temp for more than three weeks to achieve more carbonation. How long is too long?

Thankfully, my pregnant wife has been no help in taste testing :)

Recipe:
7.5 lbs English 2-row pale
1 lbs Crystal 60
1 lbs Crystal 40
.5 lbs Belgian Cara-Pils
1 1/3 oz. Cascade (4%)
1 oz. Saaz (4%)
Yease: WLP-29
.75 cup priming sugar

7 days in primary 68 - 72 degrees
14 days in secondary 40 degrees
21 days in bottles 64-68 degrees
stored 45 degrees
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Postby BillyBock » Wed Dec 07, 2005 6:59 am

Congrats on the pregnancy. If you want to run a little test, set a 6-pack of the unyeasted bottles aside and let them carbonate longer. Then you can add yeast to the other bottles if you wish. Pop one open a week and see how much longer it takes. It will take longer for these anyway because of your cold conditioning period before bottling--not enough left over to do the job as quickly compared to your re-yeasted bottles, so they must take the time to reproduce. You might want to consider skipping the cold conditioning, and condition at room temperature instead. Gravity will still help you in clearing the beer. Afterwards, then bottle and after 2 to 4 weeks carbonation in the bottle, then stick it in the fridge and cold condition it.
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Yeast need O2?

Postby McHoppy » Wed Dec 07, 2005 12:23 pm

Thanks for the reply BillyBock. Your response brings up another question. You mention it will take longer for the yeast to multiply after the cold conditioning. My concern is that the yeast will not multiply. I thought I had read some where that yeast requires oxygen to reproduce. Shouldn't the bottled beer have almost no oxygen after the primary and secondary fermentation? Maybe the bottling process mixed in enough fresh oxygen?
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Postby BillyBock » Wed Dec 07, 2005 8:19 pm

You're correct, the beer at this stage will have no oxygen. Yeast at that stage don't require additional oxygen to carbonate your beer--besides, oxygenating your beer at this point is bad because it will stale your beer. It's important to oxygenate the wort before the primary ferment takes off, but not after fermentation has begun. Don't worry, the yeast will consume the sugar and do their thing...but you have to be patient and give them time. The more there are, the quicker the job gets done.
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