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Trying to fix my flat, flat beer

My beer is flatter than the landscape in Illinois.

So here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to try again with this same beer. Open the bottles, pour it into a carboy, add yeast and sugar (of some sort - haven’t decided yet) and wait, then re-bottle. I would just re-bottle right away, but I’m worried about oxidation.

Whaddaya think? Great idea, or only good idea?

I guess my main question is: will there be enough sugar in it now? Fermentation did take place: OG was about 1.052 and FG was 1.011.

A couple details: I used the malt and hops from a NB Saison all-grain kit, but I’d lost the yeast somehow so I got a packet of Safale 05 from my local store. They didn’t have the Belgian stuff. Racked to a secondary after two weeks, then bottled two weeks after that. Waited another two weeks and opened a six pack. All completely flat. Turned the bottles upside down and placed in a warmer spot, waited two weeks, still flat.

If you pour them into a carboy you will definitely cause oxidation. Best to open them up and drop a domino dots in them and a couple grains of dry yeast and recap. That said did you add enough sugar at bottling? There is usually enough yeast in the beer. I would get some champagne dry yeast for the re bottle. Are you sure the caps sealed. I once used screw tops by mistake and they didn’t seal. I’ve also heard people getting a bad batch of caps also

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Thanks for the reply. I guess whether I used enough sugar at bottling is really the question. I boiled a 4 oz. packet of dextrose in water and racked the beer on top of it in my bottling bucket. I distinctly remember watching the beer swirl into the clear liquid, so if I screwed that up… well, I’m not sure what I must have done.

The caps are from a package of caps I’ve used several times before, so it can’t be them. I did consider whether I just did it wrong, but I’ve opened 8 so far and they’re all flat.

You know what, maybe I try your suggestion with a half dozen bottles and see what happens first.

What was the temp where the bottles sat for carbing?

Do you number the first and the last 6 or 8 bottles filled? I do this in case there is a carbonation problem. If after 4 or more weeks of warm conditioning the first bottle sampled is lacking carbonation and the last bottle filled is over carbonated I will know the problem is from the priming solution not mixing.

What temperature did you hold the bottles at for the first three weeks. Could be just a time thing or too cool of conditions for the yeast to work quickly. Higher ABV beers will take more time to fully carbonate than low ABV beers.

I wouldn’t add more sugar until time and temperature have been ruled out as the problem.

Did you hear any CO2 hiss when you opened the bottles?
How long did you chill the bottles before opening? It can take a couple of days for the CO2 in the head space to carbonate the beer.

I’ve had batches not mix in the priming sugar just from racking and letting it swirl. My SOP is to rack the beer into the bottling bucket, then pour the priming sugar into a ladle just suspended below the surface to minimize splashing, and then to gently stir with an up-and-down motion. I’d be VERY CAREFUL messing with this one… the ones from the bottom might have a huge amount of sugar. It’s probably pretty low risk to open a bottle and if no hiss, add a sugar cube. Just be prepared if you start getting into ones that have some carbonation or might be over-carbed.

he waited 2 weeks for conditioning and opened 8 and zilch. Good expierimt. Put some aside, add sugar to some, add yeast to some and add sugar and yeast to some. See what happens.

I stir my bottling bucket with my bottling wand after it is full. If I don’t do this step i find my bottles inconsistent in carbonation.
This has happened to me with exhausted yeast. I’v tried dropping a grain of champagne yeast in each bottle and it helped but the truth is you need to drink these and move on. Pour vigorously.

Solid 68 degrees for the first few weeks, then I moved them upstairs where it’s generally around 80. Two more weeks there.

No, I don’t number them. Not a bad idea. Temp was actually around 64 degrees - I fermented at 68, but then left my temp controls off after bottling. I moved it to my living room then where it’s around 80 during the day.

This beer isn’t high ABV, right in the 5-5.5% range.

I hear what might be a very short hiss when I open the bottle. I chilled them a couple days before opening.

Thanks for the reply.

Here’s a question: could it be my bottles? I re-use them more than once, and my wife just pointed out that she has to be careful with her canning jars, because if the lip is at all damaged she won’t get a seal. Could the bottles wear out after two or three uses?

I just opened a few bottles from an experiment I was trying, and the first two were also flat. The third wasn’t. So next bottling day, I’m going to try new caps and a different capper, and I’m going to use some new bottles and some old ones.

I’ve been reusing the same bottles for many years. My German pints have been in use since 1987. Check the rims on the flat bottles. If they are nicked you will be able to feel it by sliding your finger around the mouth. Using a wing capper? I like the bench capper for ease of use and speed.

I have found a couple of nicked canning jars over the years with the finger tip check.

Seems unlikely all the bottles would wear the same so that doesn’t sound like the problem. Most of us use bottles for many years.

Two things that have led to consistently flat beer for me are Fermentors Favorites bottle caps and fat-lipped bottles.
When using Fermentor’s Favorites caps I would have batches where 20% of the bottles would be completely flat. So I never use them anymore.
For reusing commercial bottles, most work fine but the ones that have a thicker, fatter rim take more pressure on the bottle capper and often don’t seal well. So those bottles go in the recycling bin once emptied.

One idea that has been mentioned here by a few of us it to use at least one PET plastic bottle in each batch. You can check it along the way by just squeezing it to see if it is getting firm as the pressure builds. Make sure it is made for carbonated beverages, not a bottled water bottle. You can buy them but unflavored seltzer bottles work fine.

The flat beer and over carbonated beers are one of the reasons many of us go to almost all of our beers kegged.

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I tip my hat to all you good bottle brewers. To me that’s the hardest part( sorry Tom). It takes alot to get the carbonation right. I would always shoot high figuring I could degass in the glass. But then you have to explain to people how to drink it.

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It’s true. My preferences have changed so after 100+ sessions of bottling I am now making what I once would have considered under carbonated. Mainly because I no prefer a thin head to the potential of a semi gusher

I dunno, I’ve done 12-14 batches over the last few years, and this is the first time I’ve had a problem with carbonation. Off flavors, yes. Some real stinkers a few times. But always a nice head.

Like I said I tip my hat to you. I was always getting way to much sediment. Alot of my bottles would start out nice then get over carbonated after a time. I guess I never spent enough time trying to get it right. I make alot of different styles and sometimes not sure what carbonation level I want.

Let us all put our hands together and give God a thank you for the keg! Amen… Sneezles61

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