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Bottle carbonation puzzle

I’ve got a batch of beer where some bottles have much more carbonation than others and I can’t figure it out.

My ale fermented fine --tastes great but is not well carbonated.

I used Northern Brewers priming sugar calculator, weighed the sugar out to the gram on a digital scale, put in the bottling bucket, stirred gently, waited 30 mins and bottled.

Two weeks later chilled a bottle, popped the top, taste good but has only a bit of head and very little carbonation.

Waited another week, popped open another, massive head and almost over carbonated (had a bit of additional foam coming out of the bottle after the initial pour with the bottle in a vertical position on the table).

Thought everything was fine.

Next bottle, FLAT. Very little carbonation.

The one one bottle with the massive head of foam and lots of carbonation was out of the bottom of the bottling bucket and had lots of sediment in it. Why should that make a difference? I’m also guessing it was probably bottled about 20 minutes later than the first beer that went into bottles ( and that’s because I only sanitize clean bottles immediately before filling them instead of sanitizing a whole batch at once). I wonder if the sanitizer is killing some of the yeast although I’m getting some carbonation and I’ve used this same method on several previous batches without problems.

But it puzzles me why the one bottle with the sediment in it is almost over-carbonated while the other bottles I’ve sampled don’t have nearly enough.

Thanks in advance for your comments and suggestions.

Did you dissolve the priming sugar first in a cup or two of boiling water, before adding to the bottling bucket, or did you just dump the sugar in the bottling bucket?

I did dissolve it in boiling water and then cooled it down before adding it.
Thanks

Why did you wait 30 minutes before bottling?

It sounds as though it wasn’t mixed properly. Do you have a way of knowing which bottles were bottled first and which were bottled last? Long shot, but I know sometimes I save my bottles that have some label stuck to it for the end of a bottling run!

not sure how you added the sugar but you should put the boiled sugar in the bucket 1st then rack on top of it to insure proper mixing. then there is all ways the possibility that some of your caps on the bottles were not sealed good. I take and twist each bottle cap to ensure they are tight and if they turn I replace them. hope this helps.

FWIW I add the priming solution to the beer once its racked pretty regularly (so I know exactly how much finished beer I am priming, so as to not include trub/yeast cake in the priming sugar calculation), and I haven’t had any issues with inconsistent carbonation. I just stir gently in a few different directions for 1-1.5 minutes.

Actually this was my own recipe in a Mr. Beer fermenter.

Since it has a spout on it, I did not rack the beer over, but simply added the priming sugar, stirred gently, waited one-half hour (some sources recommend waiting 30 mins to allow the sugar to mix) then held my bottles under the spigot, filled them and capped them.

I labeled the last 5 bottles out ,but don’t know the order of the others. I don’t waste brew. When I can’t get any more out by tilting the fermenter or bottling bucket I pour the rest through a funnel and bottle it. The last two or three bottles have a lot of trub in them, but taste good anyway.

Thanks

The only thing I can thing of is bad seals on the caps. Some good and some bad. If you dissolved the dextrose in the water and added to bottling bucket all should be carbed or not carbed proportionally. That’s why I lean towards bad seals on some of the caps or not seated properly in the bottle capper.

I submitted this same issue on the AHA forum and someone suggested the priming sugar was poorly mixed into the beer.

I had brewed my own recipe and put the wort in a Mr. Beer fermenter. It has a spigot on the bottom, so I put the sugar into water, boiled it, cooled it and added it to the fermenter and stirred gently.

That omits the usual step of racking the beer from a fermenter into a bottling bucket with the priming sugar mixture in the bottom of the bottling bucket prior to beginning the transfer of the beer. Racking it over gives some additional opportunity for mixing it.

I’m now leaning towards that explanation (poorly mixed priming sugar) as the cause of the problem.

Thanks

I’m curious what source advised you to wait 30 minutes after racking to bottle. That seems to be the culprit, IMHO.

I’m not sure where I picked up that info.

Thanks

To Brewing Rover

Re: Bottle carbonation puzzle
I’m curious what source advised you to wait 30 minutes after racking to bottle. That seems to be the culprit, IMHO

In my initial post I mentioned bottling bucket. My bottling bucket was a Mr. Beer fermenter that I had fermented the wort in. Because it has a spigot, I did not have to rack the beer over from a fermenter that has no spigot.

If you are not racking the beer, John Palmer recommends adding your priming solution, stirring gently, and waiting 30 mins for the trub to settle and also "to allow more diffusion of the priming sugar to [i]take place."

Thanks for your comment, however.

[quote=“lazy ant brewing”]To Brewing Rover

Re: Bottle carbonation puzzle
I’m curious what source advised you to wait 30 minutes after racking to bottle. That seems to be the culprit, IMHO

In my initial post I mentioned bottling bucket. My bottling bucket was a Mr. Beer fermenter that I had fermented the wort in. Because it has a spigot, I did not have to rack the beer over from a fermenter that has no spigot.

If you are not racking the beer, John Palmer recommends adding your priming solution, stirring gently, and waiting 30 mins for the trub to settle and also "to allow more diffusion of the priming sugar to [i]take place."

Thanks for your comment, however.[/quote]
Sorry, I missed that piece. I think it would be difficult to mix your priming solution in that situation, as others have said.

Now, I’m thinking about using some of the commercial priming tabs next batch.

[quote=“lazy ant brewing”]Now, I’m thinking about using some of the commercial priming tabs next batch.[/quote]Do some research before you do - some brands work, some don’t. Sugar is almost always a better option.

When I used to use Mr. Beer, I received a double sided scooper thingy from them for adding sugar directly to each bottle before filling. One side was measured for 12 oz bottles and the other for 1 liter bottles. After filling (from the spigot) and capping, gently turn the bottle a couple of times to mix the sugar with the beer. I never had an issue with carbonation that way but you might get an oxidation off-flavor if they aren’t consumed relatively fast. I didn’t know at the time, but bottles that I held onto for several months had a weird cardboard flavor and I had to pitch them.

I still have the barrel fermenter and have used it to make a small batch of hard cider. Works pretty well for that.

to the op. you need,in my opinion to transfer to a bottling bucket before filling bottles. going out of a fermenter with out first racking off the trub is bad news. just get another fermenter and use the misterbeer thing as a bottling bucket with a bottle filler on the spigot. ps imo carb tabs are worthless and a waist of money. also you do not want to add any o2 to the beer after it is in the bottle,so do not mix the sugar in the bottles. just trying to help, I’ve been though this before and with time you’ll get it.

Dry-priming works very well if you can measure sugar to the 0.1 gram. Add the dry sugar to each bottle (I use a small cup and funnel for measuring and pouring) then use a bottling wand jammed in the spigot to fill from the bottom and the turbulence from filling will dissolve the sugar. Beauty of this method is that you know that each bottle is getting the correct amount of sugar.

I can’t help but think some of the sugar solution settled towards the bottom of the vessel and was more concentrated down there.

I recommend putting the priming solution in the bucket, then rack the beer to the bucket for bottling. Lightly mix with a sanitized spoon or the bottling wand after filling about 10 bottles to ensure the solution is still suspended throughout the beer.

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