Bottle condition beer not carbing

Thu Jul 18, 2013 5:34 pm

So I have 2 beers that I brewed for a competition coming up, a brown and a DIPA. Both have slight carbonation. The entry deadline is next friday 7/26 so I need some help. I've had some trouble with carbonation in the past and this time I followed Beersmith to the T. Both beers were brewed with a native yeast that was given for the competition. The brewer who isolated it said it acts like Wyeast 3711 and will continue eating. They have been in the bottle for 11 days and only slight carbonation. I had them at 73F for the first 7 days, then put them in the attic for the last 4 days around 85-90F.

The bottles have a little yeast in the bottom. The DIPA was dry hopped off the yeast for 14 days so there wasn't a lot of yeast left in that one. My thought on fixing a few bottles for the comp was to get some carb tabs and adding them to the bottles this weekend and reseal. They will be judged on the 28th so I'm not overly concerned about contamination. Anybody tried this? Should I add a tiny bit of dry yeast to each of those bottles to ensure carbonation? Any help is appreciated.

McDur-ham
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Re: Bottle condition beer not carbing

Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:27 pm

What was your process for adding the first batch of priming sugar?
Lee

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Re: Bottle condition beer not carbing

Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:21 am

Water and corn sugar solution in bottom of bottling bucket -> rack beer on top -> stir gently -> bottle and cap. All boiled cooled and sanitized.
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Re: Bottle condition beer not carbing

Fri Jul 19, 2013 4:28 am

Considering you said you've had trouble with it in the past, I'm wondering if it's just not getting mixed well enough. Your process looks good on paper, but it might be just one of those small details that's getting missed. For example, when I rack the beer into the bottling bucket I run the siphon tube all the way to the bottom so 3" or so is laying horizontally. It's also placed along the wall of the bucket so I get a really good swirling motion as it fills up.

Rereading your post again, it appears they've only been in the bottle for 11 days. In my experience I wouldn't achieve full carbonation for at least 2 weeks, sometimes a few days beyond it. If you can see yeast in the bottom, there's more than likely enough in there so I'd advise against adding more yeast. Considering the timeline I would suggest adding carb tabs to 6-8 bottles or so & leaving the rest alone to see what they're at on Wednesday. Also, I know you're trying to rush them for the comp (which usually isn't good for the beer) but the attic might be a little rough on them. Perhaps split them up, having both a couple tabbed/untabbed up there & a couple tabbed/untabbed ones somewhere in the low/mid 70's. At the very least it'll give you better odds that at least one of the 4 groups will be an award winner. Good luck.
Lee

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Re: Bottle condition beer not carbing

Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:44 am

If you have had trouble carbonating in the past, to me that would either indicate a yeast health issue, or a chronic under priming issue. Poorly mixed sugar would more likely result in widely variable carbonating... from next to nothing to gushers. Carb tabs are only going to help you if you under primed, perhaps at the expense of the small amount of CO2 you already have, and I doubt they are gonna get things worked through in the time you need before the competition. Feel free to try whatever you can to get enough bottles to enter (treat a few extra for testing), but make sure to leave some as is and let it ride... they could just need more time.
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Re: Bottle condition beer not carbing

Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:38 am

I just assumed "trouble with carbonating in the past" meant variable levels. If you're getting consistent low carbonation, that's a completely different story. Are you weighing the priming sugar on a low range, calibrated scale? Measuring by volume could create consistent low carb levels & if you're using a scale that's designed for heavier things, it could be just down right inconsistent. I keep 3 digital scales in my brewhaus (a 'coke' scale, a 6# scale & a 15# scale) along with a set of calibration weights. On a side note, if you buy calibration weights, keep a box of exam gloves next to them & NEVER touch them with your bare hands.
Lee

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Re: Bottle condition beer not carbing

Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:40 am

Most of the trouble I've had in the past was with over carbing so I typically go low on the sugar. And my past few brews have been fine. This time I put what beersmith told me to. Ive opened a couple of bottles and they all seem low so i dont think the mixing is the problem either. I don't own a scale so I convert to tablespoons. I know these weights and ounces don't convert great that way but hey I'm poor. All that being said, I can address it in my future brews. Maybe I'm just being overly concerned because this is for a competition. But I babied it for the whole time and its frustrating to have carbonation possibly screw me over.

Another thought I had after talking to my LHBS. I'm making starters tonight for an ESB (002) and a cal common (2112). If I add a dropper of starter (002) to the bottles, this should carb them up, right? Thanks for the help
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Re: Bottle condition beer not carbing

Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:45 am

I know this won't help you for this particular situation - but I had a Scottish Heavy that I cold crashed and split 2.5g to keg and 2.5g to bottle; I added a tablet (or two, can't remember) to the bottles. It took nearly 2 months to carb at 73F.

I figured that I clarified the beer so well that it took a while for what little yeast was left to get going again.
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