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First brew done, problem with bottle carbonation?

Hello, newbie here, got the deluxe kit for Christmas, brewed on Jan. 1st, bottled 2 weeks ago today. Smells great, taste is pretty good, but it just taste pretty flat. There is some carbonation present, just not a whole lot. I was actually worried about over carbonation because the sugar for bottle fermenting was for 5 gallons, and I ended up with only 4 gallons of beer at the end (guess I lost quiet a bit when I racked it). I feel like I followed the instructions so I am not sure if it just needs more time or what.

Of note, out of the 7 bottles that were tried yesterday (not all by me), all were pretty flat except one. This one seemed to be way over carbonated. When the cap was removed the beer volcanoed all over, and even after letting it settle you could not pour it without it turning to straight foam.

Any ideas on what to do now? Or how do I prevent this in the future?

Thanks!!

Sounds like your priming sugar wasn’t mixed in well. It tends to sink to the bottom, leaving the last few bottles getting most of the sugar. Unfortunately they are likely to overcarbonate and shatter the bottles, while the rest will probably be pretty flat. Which yeast did you use for the batch?

There could be a few of things going on either singly or in combination for carbonation problems. I’ll just do a list for a start. You can add some details of your process.

Conditioning time is too short for good carbonation development (Some beer styles will take longer than 8 weeks)
Conditioning temperature is too cool (Around 70°F to 74°F is a good temperature while not being too warm to reduce shelf life.)
Bottle chilling time was too short before sampling (Bottles should be chilled in the refrigerator at least a full day before opening. Two to three days is better.)
Priming sugar did not get an even mix in the bottling bucket (Beginning the racking process, then pouring in the priming sugar solution works well. Have the end of the siphon tube flat and curled around the bottom of the bottling bucket to create a gentle whirl pool action to mix the sugar solution.)

The bottle that gushed could have had way too much priming sugar or sediment in the bottle was put into suspension by bottle handling. This created nucleation points for all the CO2 in the bottle to cause the gushing. This bottle could have been dirty when filled. An infection can cause over carbonation.

Just a start for the diagnosis.

Sounds like I probably didn’t mix the priming sugar in very well. I placed the boil of priming sugar in the bottom on my bottling bucket, then racked the beer on top of it. I figured the swirling would have been enough, but I guess not. Should I periodically stir the bucket while bottling to prevent this in the future?

I let it sit in my closet for almost 13 days, which stays about 68-72 degrees, and then placed them in the fridge yesterday (except 2 of them, which have been in the fridge for the past 5 days because I intended on tasting after first week of bottling, not sure if the over carbonated one was one of those two).

Anyways, thanks for the replies, those were helpful. My question now is, is there any hope of these carbonating more over the next couple days, or am I doomed to a batch of mostly pretty flat brews?

Thanks!

Give the bottles another two weeks of conditioning then sample another one. I have never stirred the beer in the bottling bucket. Haven’t had any problems with unequal carbonation.

I do use twice the recommended amount of water to prepare the priming sugar solution. I just figure when the solution is less syrupy it will mix better.

It’s possible that it could use a bit more time. S-04 can take a REALLY long time to bottle condition, so there’s a chance that more time could give you more carbonation. I’d give it a couple more weeks to see what happens. The bottle that gushed, as @flars mentioned, could have a bottle infection or could have more suspended particles, which would increase the perceived carbonation. But if it does turn out that the priming sugar wasn’t fully mixed, you can open individual bottles, prime them, and re-cap. But don’t do this until you’re absolutely sure that this is the problem. Double priming bottles is a bad thing.

I don’t rely on the swirling of the beer while racking to mix the priming sugar. It sometimes works, but it always works if you stir it gently. My standard procedure is to rack to the bottling bucket, place the cover on loosely, measure the priming sugar for the actual volume of beer you have in a 2-cup glass measuring cup (after taring the scale for the weight of the measuring cup), top up to 2 cups water appropriate for brewing, mix it for a couple minutes to get the sugar mostly dissolved, and zap it in the microwave until it just boils briefly.

Once this is done, take a sanitized ladle and submerge the bowl of the ladle so the rim is JUST ABOVE the surface of the beer, but is otherwise empty. Pour the hot priming sugar gently into the bowl of the ladle carefully and slowly so it doesn’t splash, and then slowly stir with the ladle in an up-and-down motion to get the beer moving around a bit, but not enough to splash or introduce too much oxygen. Some people stir every dozen bottles or so, but I haven’t found it to be necessary.

Thanks guys, you’ve given me some hope. Would you recommend taking them all out of the fridge and back in the closet for the next two weeks so they condition at the recommended temperature?

Yes, let the bottles warm then more conditioning time.

After a couple of days warming gently invert the bottles a couple of times to resuspend the yeast that dropped into dormancy in the frig.

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