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Help! I've Made Beer Cordial!

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zarniwoop

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Hi All,

My first brew is an all Amarillo version of Neil's Centennial Ale (I know it makes the name a bit redundant :rolleyes: ). All went well, I even steeped some crystal malt and crash chilled it for a week to reduce the sediment, it's now been in the bottle for 4 weeks (I tried one every week to see the change) it has a lovely taste, good body and is quite clear but almost every bottle I've tried has very little carbonation.

Initially I just thought I'd got too clever for my own good on my first brew as when I bulk primed it I used the correct amount of sugar for what I estimated the temperature would be after I transferred it from the crash chiller to the bottling bucket so I suspect I just had the wrong amount of sugar but yesterday I cracked open the four week trial bottle and it was lovely, with a good head and a nice level of carbonation. Handing it too my wife I proudly cracked open the second (and third) and both were like the previous few week's tastings: flat.

So question is what did I do wrong?

Is it just a case of too little sugar? If so why was one bottle ok? Did I need more sugar as I crash chilled it and dropped too much yeast out of suspensions? Any other problems that I might have caused?

And the biggest question of all.... can I save it? Is it possible to open them up and add some more sugar after 4 weeks in the bottle? If so any recommendations how much? If it helps they are just starting to carb, e.g. some small bubbles and a tiny bit of head on top which soon disappears but that's it.

Any help much appreciated!

Zarniwoop
 

iralosavic

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Hi All,

My first brew is an all Amarillo version of Neil's Centennial Ale (I know it makes the name a bit redundant :rolleyes: ). All went well, I even steeped some crystal malt and crash chilled it for a week to reduce the sediment, it's now been in the bottle for 4 weeks (I tried one every week to see the change) it has a lovely taste, good body and is quite clear but almost every bottle I've tried has very little carbonation.

Initially I just thought I'd got too clever for my own good on my first brew as when I bulk primed it I used the correct amount of sugar for what I estimated the temperature would be after I transferred it from the crash chiller to the bottling bucket so I suspect I just had the wrong amount of sugar but yesterday I cracked open the four week trial bottle and it was lovely, with a good head and a nice level of carbonation. Handing it too my wife I proudly cracked open the second (and third) and both were like the previous few week's tastings: flat.

So question is what did I do wrong?

Is it just a case of too little sugar? If so why was one bottle ok? Did I need more sugar as I crash chilled it and dropped too much yeast out of suspensions? Any other problems that I might have caused?

And the biggest question of all.... can I save it? Is it possible to open them up and add some more sugar after 4 weeks in the bottle? If so any recommendations how much? If it helps they are just starting to carb, e.g. some small bubbles and a tiny bit of head on top which soon disappears but that's it.

Any help much appreciated!

Zarniwoop

What was the volume of the wort when you added sugar and how much did you add? (The temperature variable in the bulk priming calculator is for the highest temperature reached during fermentation (this affects co2 absorbsion).
 

zarniwoop

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What was the volume of the wort when you added sugar and how much did you add? (The temperature variable in the bulk priming calculator is for the highest temperature reached during fermentation (this affects co2 absorbsion).
20L and I added 85g of sugar based on a 10C wort temperature and targeting a CO2 volume of ~2.5.

I assumed they were talking about the temp. of the wort when the sugar was added, doh! So based on a wort temp of 20C max I should have added another ~28g???
 

crd0902

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Probably not much help but there were some other post on here about not mixing properly. Maybe your priming solution did t mix through the whole beer
 

pmastello

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The temperature for calculating priming is the temperature of the beer at bottling time. This is based on the dissolved CO2 already in solution at the time of bottling. So if your beer was at 10C when you bottled it, then you had a greater amount of CO2 in solution and needed less sugar to bring it up to the desired dissolved volume.

As you mentioned, the difference is only around 20g of sugar over 20L. IMHO this is not the cause of your flat beer. 25g less sugar would mean you would be carbonated at 2.2volumes compared to 2.5volumes. Pretty negligible in my opinion.

I'd be looking at your capping technique first, especially if its your first time bottling. I would also suggest keeping them warm to help the yeast along, but in reality, its summer time, unless you stored them in your fridge to bottle condition, this probably isn't a problem.
It could possibly be that you chilled it too much before bottling, but I believe you only need a very small amount of yeast to bottle condition, so unless you lagered at 0C for months, I wouldn't think thats it either.
 

pmastello

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Probably not much help but there were some other post on here about not mixing properly. Maybe your priming solution did t mix through the whole beer
Good point. Try a random selection of beers, perhaps some are over carbonated?
Did you add the sugar straight to the fermented beer? or make a syrup and stir it in?
 

RobboMC

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The temperature for calculating priming is the temperature of the beer at bottling time. This is based on the dissolved CO2 already in solution at the time of bottling. So if your beer was at 10C when you bottled it, then you had a greater amount of CO2 in solution and needed less sugar to bring it up to the desired dissolved volume.

I disagree. If the fermentation has finished at 20 deg C and you then cool to 10 deg C then the beer has no source
of CO2 to 'suck up.' The temp for calculating carbonation volumes should be the lowest temp at which fermentation was still actively happening. If you've crash chilled then it's possibly not 10 deg C as you expected.

As to fixing, yes it IS possible to open and add some more sugar, but it isn't easy as adding the sugar grains
tends to initiate frothing. You need to open, add HALF a spoon of sugar and recap INSTANTLY. Having four hands is very helpful for this process. I've done it once in 5 years of brewing. I'd put this one down to experience and drink it as is.

85g for priming does seem a bit low for 20 litres, normally it's more like 150g at least.

By the way, crash chilling, CO2 volumes, bulk priming, and still your first brew! Man you're off to a flying start.
My first brew was a can of lager and a kg of brewing sugar.
 

crd0902

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Is it just a case of too little sugar? If so why was one bottle ok? Did I need more sugar as I crash chilled it and dropped too much yeast out of suspensions? Any other problems that I might have caused?

If you added more sugar it wouldn't dissolve and end up with a super sweet froffy beer like I did
 

iralosavic

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I agree with RobboMC. The temperature variable is for the highest temperature during fermentation. It even says so below the calculator in the fine print.

To the OP: 80g should still achieve mild carbonation along the lines of an English ale, but will be inadquate to get a typical lager style degree of carbonation.

As a general rule, you should gently stir (in a continuous manner) for at least 3-5 minutes to ensure all sugar is equally dispersed. With 80g in 20L, if it was not mixed well you will get some bottles that are practically flat and others that had more sugar concentration may be almost normally carbed. The average amount if well mixed would be just under 2 volumes of co2, which is drinkable, but perhaps a little mellow for most styles. I stick with 2.5-2.8 if in doubt - although there isn't much room for doubt with the drop down style menu!
 

iralosavic

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Is it just a case of too little sugar? If so why was one bottle ok? Did I need more sugar as I crash chilled it and dropped too much yeast out of suspensions? Any other problems that I might have caused?

If you added more sugar it wouldn't dissolve and end up with a super sweet froffy beer like I did

You will have plenty of yeast in suspension! This is not the problem. More sugar is not a solution for less yeast in any case.
I have successfully carbed up lagers that have been at 0c for 2 months with priming sugar in bottles.

From the information you've supplied, it is simply due to an inadequate amount of priming sugar and possibly a slightly uneven distribution in solution.
 

zarniwoop

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I agree with RobboMC. The temperature variable is for the highest temperature during fermentation. It even says so below the calculator in the fine print.

To the OP: 80g should still achieve mild carbonation along the lines of an English ale, but will be inadquate to get a typical lager style degree of carbonation.

As a general rule, you should gently stir (in a continuous manner) for at least 3-5 minutes to ensure all sugar is equally dispersed. With 80g in 20L, if it was not mixed well you will get some bottles that are practically flat and others that had more sugar concentration may be almost normally carbed. The average amount if well mixed would be just under 2 volumes of co2, which is drinkable, but perhaps a little mellow for most styles. I stick with 2.5-2.8 if in doubt - although there isn't much room for doubt with the drop down style menu!
Thanks all, the above is sounding likely; English ale would be a good comparison.

I mixed my wort with sugar mixture by gently pouring the wort into my bottling bucket which had the sugar solution in it already (Palmer's method). Wouldn't this be sufficient to mix it?

Sounds like it's not worth adding extra sugar, is this the consensus?
 

crd0902

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I wouldn't try adding more. Too much hassle for me. Maybe someone might know if it works inverting the bottles and suspending the yeast
 

yum beer

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drink 'em as they are and put it down to experience,

if your first brew was perfect where would that leave you to go.



I find 1 cup of dextrose works nice for most brews.-about 135gms, with variance for style.
 

iralosavic

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Yeah I wouldn't mess around any further. Just save these brews for when youre desperate for a drink. Don't worry I have a reserve stash of semi duds too.

I use Palmers method too, plus 5 minutes stirring (Which feels like way longer than you'd be inclined to stir for untimed). Haven't had a problem since. Oh and if the fermenting fridge is free, I bang the bottles in at 22c and they're done in 5-14 days (for ales- lagers can be a bit different).
 

bowie in space

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drink 'em as they are and put it down to experience,

if your first brew was perfect where would that leave you to go.



I find 1 cup of dextrose works nice for most brews.-about 135gms, with variance for style.
Yeah I do about the same amount for 23L batches. I recently bottled an English ale with 125g and carbonation is low to moderate. My APA's etc usually have between 135-150g. 80 is ridiculously low. Maybe heat and time will fix it, but just try and learn from it.

Also, after I put my bulk priming sugar solution in the vessel and transfer the beer, I try to aid the whirlpooling motion with a big plastic spoon or paint stirrer, then let it sit for about ten minutes before bottling. I used to have heaps of carbonation problems, but all is good now.

Bowie
 

redunderthebed

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Mix the beer with lemonade.

Not that i would know anything about that. :ph34r:
 

zarniwoop

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Actually funny thing has happened with this, a few days after I posted this I had another one and it was getting much better, had some head and was developing bubbles up to a pleasant level. I've now had a few more and so far so good. Now it's possible that I've just hit a section of the bottles where they received more sugar than the others but I won't know without drinking the lot and I can't help feel my wife would object..... :D
 

bignath

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The temperature for calculating priming is the temperature of the beer at bottling time.

I disagree.

<snip>

The temp for calculating carbonation volumes should be the lowest temp at which fermentation was still actively happening.

I agree with RobboMC. The temperature variable is for the highest temperature during fermentation.
This is why some people still ask questions about carbonation.... There are three different opinions to accurately get carbonation levels sorted, all within a handful of posts of each other. And to top it all off, one of the posts agrees with something the other poster didn't even say...?

No wonder people get this stuff confused.

FWIW, my opinion (happy to be corrected) was that to accurately carbonate, you should be taking the highest temp the fermentation got to. I don't fully understand why, and i really don't give a shit. I don't knowingly USE that method anyway, but then again i don't bottle very much. I tend to brew the same style a lot, and therefore just know how much sugar i need to use based on experience, but i've never "worked it out".

I beleive manticle is quite knowledgable with the reasons why it should be based on this.
I brew pale ales, to 20lt batches, and add 125g of sugar. Not trying to carbonate to style, but my beer comes out at a level i want and expect from my beer.
 

bum

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I don't fully understand why, and i really don't give a shit.
"But I'm going to post anyway!"

Guys, the reason the temp is important is because it relates to how much CO2 can remain in solution. Lower temps mean the beer can hold on to more CO2 thus effecting the amount priming sugar required. For this reason it becomes a bit hard to say things like "It is the highest temp reached during fermentation" or "It is the highest temp reached after fermentation". You need to apply a bit of common sense. If the brew was hot in the beginning of fermentation - let's say 25C, undesirable in most instances but let's use this figure for argument's sake - but you soon dropped the temp to 17C and it never got over that temp again. Using 25C will most likely result in higher CO2 levels than desired because CO2 was still being produced well after that temp in conditions that will allow greater amounts of CO2 to stay in solution. Conversely, we can't immediately assume the temp after fermentation is most important. Let's say I brew a beer at 19C, once FG is reached I CC the brew at 1C - obviously, we can't use 1C as our highest temp.

Just apply a bit of judgement. There's extraordinarily few hard-and-fast rules in this game - that's what makes it so interesting.
 
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