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General Category => Kegging and Bottling => Topic started by: Alfredbrewer on April 04, 2019, 12:46:08 AM

Title: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: Alfredbrewer on April 04, 2019, 12:46:08 AM
A friend of mine has asked me a few times about her struggles with inconsistent carbonation in bottles. I keg the majority of my beer, so I can't help her as much as I want. I've offered some theories but it doesn't seem to go away. Same batch will have a geyser followed by a great beer and some have that  carbonated "bite" to it. She has adjusted her priming sugar amount, gently stirred after adding priming sugar, and even moved them to a fridge after a few weeks to try to make the yeast dormant. The last advice I gave her was to extend fermentation in secondary to possibly have a more settled beer. She's usually bottling at around 6-8 weeks give or take. I told her some of it will just be the nature of bottling, but sometimes it's pretty drastic. Any help and advice would be appreciated. Thanks for your time.
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: RC on April 04, 2019, 01:43:19 AM
It's likely due to infection, based on what you describe below. If the beer itself tastes fine at the time of bottling, it's the tubing or bottling wand or any of the other apparati involved in bottling that's not getting cleaned/sanitized properly.

A geyser in a bottle always means that something is continuing to metabolize carbon-based molecules in the beer and creating gas as a result. If it's not the brewing yeast, it's wild yeast or bacteria. Which means cleaning/sanitizing is lacking. Gotta clean/sanitize everything better.
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: Richard on April 04, 2019, 01:49:07 AM
I agree that this sounds like a low-level infection that can cause carbonation problems without any real effect on the taste. I had a similar problem a couple of years ago, but since I washed all my bottles and equipment with iodophor it has gone away. One washing was all it took, which tells me that it was a wild yeast that StarSan would not kill but which was killed by the iodophor.
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: Slowbrew on April 04, 2019, 11:09:22 AM
A persistent infections is always a possibility.

Another process change she could try, in addition to thorough sanitation, is to add the beer to the priming sugar instead of priming sugar to the beer.  When I bottle I pour the boiled priming sugar mixture into the bottling bucket first and transfer the beer on to it.  The constant swirling of the two in the bucket seems to help produce a consistent mixture more easily than stirring later.

Paul
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: Alfredbrewer on April 04, 2019, 02:23:39 PM
Thanks for the feedback. I'll pass it along. She recently got a fast washer bottle washer. Hopefully that will help the issue. Also, she does add beer to the priming sugar as recommended. I'll look into iodophor and if it's compatible with the washer for her.
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: ulander6206 on April 04, 2019, 03:01:44 PM
As noted, I too had issues with geysers from time to time. We now soak all bottles in Oxyclean before sanitizing. No matter how well you rinse the bottles after use, there is still some stuff left in the bottles. It's the old adage - you can't sanitize crud.
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: ASLO on April 04, 2019, 09:55:23 PM
I agree with previous comments about possible infection. One other thing to consider is gently stirring for longer and making sure to agitate the beer a little instead of just swirling (without splashing to much). I had some issues with inconsistent carbonation. I started making sure I stirred for at least 3 minutes by timing myself, and, in addition to swirling, I stir back and forth throughout the entire volume of the beer. Haven't had an issue since. 
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: KellerBrauer on April 06, 2019, 12:31:33 PM
I have experienced similar problems many years ago.  Then I discovered my bottles weren’t as clean as I thought they were.  When I looked into the bottle, I saw a crystal clean bottom when viewed while looking at direct light.  My discovery was that the walls of the bottles is where the crud was collecting.  So, I then changed my cleaning procedure to include an overnight soak in PBW followed by an up-blast of 140° water to rinse.  I did this all in my deep sink without draining any solution.  You would not believe how much crud was left in the sink when I was finished.  That experiance was a very big slap on the head for me!
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: rburrelli on April 06, 2019, 04:25:37 PM
I follow the same procedure as KellerBrauer. One or two days prior to bottling. I use one of those bottle washers that attaches to a hose thread in my utility sink and shoots high speed hot water.
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: Lazy Ant Brewing on April 14, 2019, 12:15:42 PM
As noted, I too had issues with geysers from time to time. We now soak all bottles in Oxyclean before sanitizing. No matter how well you rinse the bottles after use, there is still some stuff left in the bottles. It's the old adage - you can't sanitize crud.

I pour my beer  into a mug, and then immediately rinse the bottle thoroughly  in tap water leaving a bit of water in the bottom.  Later, I hand wash it with the rest of the dishes using regular dish detergent, rinse it again, invert it and let it dry. Then store the bottles in an ancient, but dirty heavy-duty cardboard box like beer was sold in 30-years ago.  On bottling day, I use a vinator filled with star san solution to sanitize it (two squirts/bottle rotating the bottle 90 degrees during the process).  I've never had noticeable issues.  I often take my beer to brew club meetings and it's generally well received.
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: Silver_Is_Money on April 14, 2019, 02:33:55 PM
If insufficient calcium is added to the mash water, calcium oxalate will not be precipitated out soon enough and/or efficiently enough, and will sometimes carry over to the bottles, where it can present itself as nucleation sites which may result in gushers.
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: FMbb on April 15, 2019, 11:19:10 PM
I also had similar experience with occasional gushers, changed my procedure for racking and bottle cleaning/sanitizing and the problem went away: the last 1000 bottles have been no problem; some bottles having aged for over a year. Changes made were:
1. when racking the beer into the bottling bucket, always put priming sugar solution first
2. rinse/scrub each bottle after pour, and store temporarily
3. after a dozen bottle are accumulated, pour a boiling hot solution of OneStep in each of them (approx 2-3 fl.oz), hold for 2 minutes, rinse with the 140F water upblast (as KellerBrauer mentioned)
4. on bottling day sanitize each bottle by soaking in StarSan for >2 minutes
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: Big Monk on June 01, 2019, 12:11:28 PM
I add priming sugar in a medical syringe to each bottle to ensure proper amounts. Mix it with water and boil then cool and calculate th require amount per bottle.
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: goose on June 01, 2019, 01:12:17 PM
I also had similar experience with occasional gushers, changed my procedure for racking and bottle cleaning/sanitizing and the problem went away: the last 1000 bottles have been no problem; some bottles having aged for over a year. Changes made were:
1. when racking the beer into the bottling bucket, always put priming sugar solution first
2. rinse/scrub each bottle after pour, and store temporarily
3. after a dozen bottle are accumulated, pour a boiling hot solution of OneStep in each of them (approx 2-3 fl.oz), hold for 2 minutes, rinse with the 140F water upblast (as KellerBrauer mentioned)
4. on bottling day sanitize each bottle by soaking in StarSan for >2 minutes

A good procedure to follow.  You can also do what I do when cleaning bottles.  If you live near a dairy supply store, you can purchase a product known as bulk tank cleaner,  It is cheaper than PBW or One-Step and is very good at removing beer soils from the bottles.  It is marketed to clean and remove milk stone from bulk milk tanks and works well on beer stone that begins to accumulate in the bottles during conditioning and storage.  I use this stuff exclusively for bottles and glass carboys (which I am moving away from).
Just another idea.
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: Robert on June 01, 2019, 02:06:00 PM
Goose, dairy products are handy!  I use milkstone remover as my acid cleaner and beerstone remover in all cases, for draught lines, kegs, fermenter...  It's way cheaper than the acid products like 5 Star BS Remover and other acid products available to homebrewers (or pros for that matter) and identical in composition.  And as an acid rinse following alkaline cleaners, way cheaper than SaniClean or the like (but not cheaper than white vinegar I suppose.)  I guess the simple fact is that dairy farmers simply can't and won't pay up like homebrewers are willing to, and you can repackage a product and sell it to someone for as much as they will pay.  Next time I pick up a jug of milkstone remover I'll look at the bulk tank cleaner.  (You can get these things at Tractor Supply, but you do need to go to a store in an area where there are a lot of dairy operations, not every suburban TS will have them.  I go to your Wooster store, Goose.)
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: Alfredbrewer on June 03, 2019, 10:56:17 AM
Thanks for all of the tips and tricks. Hopefully this helps. I'll let her know all of the feedback and see what she does. I think she was stunned when the first few replies were about sanitation. As brewers we all know that you can never be too clean, but she figured she had a good procedure. Thanks again.
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: goose on June 03, 2019, 01:16:04 PM
Goose, dairy products are handy!  I use milkstone remover as my acid cleaner and beerstone remover in all cases, for draught lines, kegs, fermenter...  It's way cheaper than the acid products like 5 Star BS Remover and other acid products available to homebrewers (or pros for that matter) and identical in composition.  And as an acid rinse following alkaline cleaners, way cheaper than SaniClean or the like (but not cheaper than white vinegar I suppose.)  I guess the simple fact is that dairy farmers simply can't and won't pay up like homebrewers are willing to, and you can repackage a product and sell it to someone for as much as they will pay.  Next time I pick up a jug of milkstone remover I'll look at the bulk tank cleaner.  (You can get these things at Tractor Supply, but you do need to go to a store in an area where there are a lot of dairy operations, not every suburban TS will have them.  I go to your Wooster store, Goose.)

Rob, there is also a dairy supply store on the east side of Wooster called Bechtel Supply.  I buy the bulk tank cleaner in a 20 lb. tub and it lasts for quite a while.  It's located on Old Lincolnway (old Rt 30) and is only about three miles from my house!
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: Robert on June 03, 2019, 01:19:47 PM
Goose, dairy products are handy!  I use milkstone remover as my acid cleaner and beerstone remover in all cases, for draught lines, kegs, fermenter...  It's way cheaper than the acid products like 5 Star BS Remover and other acid products available to homebrewers (or pros for that matter) and identical in composition.  And as an acid rinse following alkaline cleaners, way cheaper than SaniClean or the like (but not cheaper than white vinegar I suppose.)  I guess the simple fact is that dairy farmers simply can't and won't pay up like homebrewers are willing to, and you can repackage a product and sell it to someone for as much as they will pay.  Next time I pick up a jug of milkstone remover I'll look at the bulk tank cleaner.  (You can get these things at Tractor Supply, but you do need to go to a store in an area where there are a lot of dairy operations, not every suburban TS will have them.  I go to your Wooster store, Goose.)

Rob, there is also a dairy supply store on the east side of Wooster called Bechtel Supply.  I buy the bulk tank cleaner in a 20 lb. tub and it lasts for quite a while.  It's located on Old Lincolnway (old Rt 30) and is only about three miles from my house!
Thanks!  I've always said my top resources for brewing supplies are the restaurant supply (Dean Supply in CLE) and Ace Hardware.   Dairy supply may be joining the list!  Hope John at G&G doesn't feel slighted!
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: chuskers on June 09, 2019, 09:08:09 PM
I too have had essentially no carbonation in my last two batches and I’ve never experienced this before. Every now and then I find one that has a little carbonation. I’ve appreciated reading about people’s thoughts on this topic and the possibility of an infection. I’ve not changed my cleaning methods since I started brewing so these have had me puzzled. I rinse my bottles after pouring them to get the leftovers out. Here are two questions I have since I have two batches ready for bottling this weekend: 1) should I use some oxyclean before I clean and sterilize the bottles? 2) has anybody had bad caps?  I’ve noticed when I take the caps off it doesn’t feel like they’re on very good.

During fermentation with these two batches I had to put a blowoff hose on because the fermentation was so active it was filling my air locks. Was this a sign of an infection in the carboys?
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: rburrelli on June 09, 2019, 09:49:07 PM
I too have had essentially no carbonation in my last two batches and I’ve never experienced this before. Every now and then I find one that has a little carbonation. I’ve appreciated reading about people’s thoughts on this topic and the possibility of an infection. I’ve not changed my cleaning methods since I started brewing so these have had me puzzled. I rinse my bottles after pouring them to get the leftovers out. Here are two questions I have since I have two batches ready for bottling this weekend: 1) should I use some oxyclean before I clean and sterilize the bottles? 2) has anybody had bad caps?  I’ve noticed when I take the caps off it doesn’t feel like they’re on very good.

Wing capper or bench capper? I had greater success when I switched to a bench capper.

I think maybe it is a good idea to revisit your cleaning methods.  It could be a cumulative thing from your previous procedures. My procedure is a soaking in brewers wash, rinse and sanitize before bottling.
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: chuskers on June 09, 2019, 10:21:59 PM
I too have had essentially no carbonation in my last two batches and I’ve never experienced this before. Every now and then I find one that has a little carbonation. I’ve appreciated reading about people’s thoughts on this topic and the possibility of an infection. I’ve not changed my cleaning methods since I started brewing so these have had me puzzled. I rinse my bottles after pouring them to get the leftovers out. Here are two questions I have since I have two batches ready for bottling this weekend: 1) should I use some oxyclean before I clean and sterilize the bottles? 2) has anybody had bad caps?  I’ve noticed when I take the caps off it doesn’t feel like they’re on very good.





Wing capper or bench capper? I had greater success when I switched to a bench capper.

I think maybe it is a good idea to revisit your cleaning methods.  It could be a cumulative thing from your previous procedures. My procedure is a soaking in brewers wash, rinse and sanitize before bottling.

Bench capper. I’ve been using Aktiv Brewer Cleaner and soak everything in it for at least 20 minutes and then Move everything to star San for at least 2 minutes, it usually ends up being closer to 5 minutes. I’m wondering if changing up the Cleaner would help, going back to PBW?
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: chuskers on June 09, 2019, 10:39:17 PM
As noted, I too had issues with geysers from time to time. We now soak all bottles in Oxyclean before sanitizing. No matter how well you rinse the bottles after use, there is still some stuff left in the bottles. It's the old adage - you can't sanitize crud.

How long do you soak your bottles in Oxyclean and how much do you use?  Also, would it be beneficial to soak all brewing equipment in it?
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: Silver_Is_Money on June 10, 2019, 11:41:33 AM
I add priming sugar in a medical syringe to each bottle to ensure proper amounts. Mix it with water and boil then cool and calculate th require amount per bottle.

I thought I was the only person who ever did this.  I don't do it all the time though, as I've found that for many of my beers the simple addition of a single Domino Dot suffices for 12 Oz. bottles.

By my scale a Domino Dot (pure cane sugar, per the label) weighs 2.31 grams, and they are amazingly consistent in weight.  If you go by the package they should theoretically weigh 2.291 grams per each.  They are stacked to precision at a count of 198 dots in every 1 Lb. box.
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: Alfredbrewer on September 20, 2019, 12:46:55 AM
Thought I'd update her results so far. She has started using easy clean as a first step and then switching to iodophor as recommended here. She called me as the iodophor was running through the bottle washer and she said it was bringing out more junk. So far she's bottled a few batches since adding this step and every bottle has been excellent. Thanks for the help.
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: Kevin on September 20, 2019, 02:59:08 PM
After soaking in hot water with Oxyclean Free for a while I chuck a bottle brush into an electric drill and scrub the insides out really well then rinse. As added insurance I run them all through the dish washer on the hottest setting (use the sanitize setting if your machine has it). No soap in the dishwasher.

Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: AzBruin on September 20, 2019, 03:20:46 PM
I too have had essentially no carbonation in my last two batches and I’ve never experienced this before. Every now and then I find one that has a little carbonation. I’ve appreciated reading about people’s thoughts on this topic and the possibility of an infection. I’ve not changed my cleaning methods since I started brewing so these have had me puzzled. I rinse my bottles after pouring them to get the leftovers out. Here are two questions I have since I have two batches ready for bottling this weekend: 1) should I use some oxyclean before I clean and sterilize the bottles? 2) has anybody had bad caps?  I’ve noticed when I take the caps off it doesn’t feel like they’re on very good.

Wing capper or bench capper? I had greater success when I switched to a bench capper.

I think maybe it is a good idea to revisit your cleaning methods.  It could be a cumulative thing from your previous procedures. My procedure is a soaking in brewers wash, rinse and sanitize before bottling.

It's kinda weird, but I get better results with a wing capper. My bench capper doesn't seem to crimp the serrations down as tight. OOTH, my wing capper tends to put a dent in the top of the cap.
Title: Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
Post by: fakegrass65 on September 26, 2019, 01:04:54 PM
my friend also has this issue sometimes.
he makes 23 litres of beer, and has 19 litre kegs so we bottle the 3 to 4 litres and the occasional bottle is flat, some good info here to pass onto him.

thanks

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