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Flat brew, bad bottle conditioning

I have a strong winter ale I brewed that has been very flat. I’ve had a few bottles that came out ok, but none of them have had very good carbonation and most have been almost completely flat. I’m wondering if this may be due to my dish washer. I’ve started using it (with no soap) to sanatize my bottles with the hot water. Is it possible that some soap residue in the machine is getting in the bottles and causing this problem during secondary fermentation?

This was a 5 gallon batch and I primed with 1 ¼ cups DME added to 4 cups of warm water. Was this not enough?

Thanks,

Brian

What temp was the room where you conditioned them? 70s?

Cheers

Dishwasher soap or rinse agent, I believe, wouldn’t impact carbonation, just head retention. So the beer would have a fizzy head like a soda that goes away.

I second StormyBrews question about your conditioning temp, but I would also like to know how long they’ve been in the bottles. In my house beers take 2-3 weeks in the 70s (summertime) but 3-4 weeks in the 60s (winter)

As for volumes, I generally use corn sugar; 5oz by weight (or less) in 1c water. According to NB’s calculator, (http://www.northernbrewer.com/priming-sugar-calculator/) you should be primed for 2.85 vols of CO2 when the style calls for 2.2, so you used more than enough.

This is just a general questions. If beer is not carbonating in bottles, is there a way to salvage the batch. Granted this is weeks after bottling day, the batch was the black IPA and this is the only time I have ran into this issue. I still consider myself a rookie but I have about 8 batches under my belt. I’m the only person in my circle that brews, so some useful advice would be greatly welcome.

Thanks

[quote=“Iowa_6864”]This is just a general questions. If beer is not carbonating in bottles, is there a way to salvage the batch. Granted this is weeks after bottling day, the batch was the black IPA and this is the only time I have ran into this issue. I still consider myself a rookie but I have about 8 batches under my belt. I’m the only person in my circle that brews, so some useful advice would be greatly welcome.

Thanks[/quote]
You have to know WHY it didn’t carb to fix it. Maybe you add sugar, maybe you add yeast. Guess wrong and kaboom.

…or just tell people its supposed to be that way. If you’re the only brewer in your circle, who can dispute you.

“It’s a flat-style which limits the volatile aromatics to help accentuate the malt backbone…” or some other BS.

When I hear “old ale” I think high ABV and a longer bulk aging, both of which can negatively impact the yeast’s ability to carbonate. Best practice for these types of beers is to add a little fresh yeast to the beer, either in the bottling bucket or to each bottle (my preferred method), and make sure that there is enough healthy yeast to digest the carbing sugar.

Thanks for all the comments, these are some good things to think about in the future. It was bulk aging longer than I do with most beers and I was wondering if that might have killed off all the active yeast. maybe stiring up some of the sediment from the bottom would help before botteling?

I brewed this one in 3/2013 so it’s had plenty of time in the bottle and I still get some carbonation, but no head. It bottle conditioned around 65 degrees and I let it sit 4 weeks before I opened one.

I’m thinking I will stop using the dishwasher to sanitize bottles, and maybe add some yeast before bottling for higher ABV batches. I usually use this calculator to figure out how much sugar to prime with: http://www.brewblogger.net/index.php?pa … tion=sugar so far it’s been ok.

Brian

65* is pretty low for stressed yeast. Get the bottles into a room at about 70*-72* and turn the bottles upside down. Turn them every couple days for an additional week and recheck. Might be able to squeeze some more carbonation out of them.

Thanks for that great idea. I’ll try that with a couple of bottles and see how it goes. the cellar probably is a little cold for the bottles while they’re carbonating. Does flipping them over help at all, or is that just to get the yeast mixed up in there again?

Brian

Flipping helps keep the yeast in solution.

Assuming you have enough priming sugar, you can add more yeast to feast on the priming sugar. I’ve tried this method (on a Dubbel that I had in secondary for 4 months) and had great luck.

  1. rehydrate some dry yeast in sterile water.
  2. sanitize a baby/kids medicine eye dropper
  3. using the eyedropper, add 1-2 DROPS of the rehydrated yeast to each bottle.
  4. recap each bottle and place in warm (70s) area for 10-14 days.
  5. sample a bottle.
  6. if not carb, leave in warm place for another 7 days and check again.

cheers.

Thanks for the tip. For now I’m going to wait the week and see if anything improves. It’s about 68 - 70 upstairs so I’ve got a couple of bottles up there to see how things go. I’d just like to see at this point what the cause was so I can avoid it in the future. The beer is good and I’ve had a quite a few bottles even with their flat head.

I’ll see what happens after a week and post an update.

Brian

It’s been a little over two weeks and I’ve had the bottles upstairs, at around 68 all that time. I do notice a little more carbonation but still little head retention.

I am thinking that there are multiple factors involved. The dish washer may have ruined any head retention if there was any amounts of dish soap or rinsing agents in there but also clearly the long secondary fermentation and the cold storage played a part in the low carbonation. Still, it’s a good beer and I’m drinking it.

Thanks for the help.

Brian

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