Author Topic: Re-yeasting already bottled beer  (Read 3116 times)

Offline linenoiz

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Re-yeasting already bottled beer
« on: March 12, 2012, 12:05:43 PM »
Back in the beginning of November, I brewed my first really big beer, a 1.115 OG Barleywine. I pitched an entire yeast cake of S04, used tons of oxygen and yeast nutrients and had a really good ferment in a temp-controlled chest freezer. The temperature for the first few days was 65, then I ramped it up a degree or two per day as fermentation wound down, ending up at 70 degrees. Final gravity was 1.025.

After about a month, I transferred it to a secondary and put it in my basement for a little over a month. I secondaried in a 5-gallon better bottle, but only had around 4.5 gallons in it, so I purged the headspace with Co2. On the basement floor, the beer got down to 50 degrees. Since I had plugged the BB with a solid stopper, a vacuum formed when the temperature dropped collapsing the sides of the BB.

On January 6th, I bottled. I used 2.5 oz of table sugar for priming. I got that amount from Beersmith, aiming for around 2 vols. I know that when entering the temperature in BS, that one should use the highest temperature that the beer has been subjected to (in this case, 70), but I figured that since the headspace was all sucked into the beer while it was conditioning, that 50 might actually be an appropriate number.

I set the beers to carbonate in the warmest room in my house, around 75 degrees or so, for a couple months. This last weekend, I popped a couple (one from near the begining of bottling, and one from near the end of bottling) in the fridge and sampled. Flat. Very slight hiss when I open, followed by zero head and nearly impossible to coax any Co2 out of solution. Otherwise, the beer is very good, if slightly more on the sweeter side than I would like.

So now I would like to get these carbed up properly. But how should I go about it? The way I see it, either I didn't use enough priming sugar, or the yeast is just plain pooped and not up to the task of carbing up an 11.5% ABV beer.

My LHBS recommended I uncap the bottles and add some champagne yeast. I'm a little leery of this, as I know S04 is a low attenuator, so I'm afraid the champagne yeast will devour too much left over sugar and blow up my bottles. I also have some US05 that I could use, but I'm not sure how they'll fair in the high-ABV environment. I'm also not sure if I should add additional sugar at this point.

So, the way I see it, my options are:

1) Wait longer
2) Add more sugar and wait longer
3) Re-yeast with champagne yeast (and hope nothing explodes)
4) Re-yeast with US05
5) 4, but also add some sugar

What say ye? I don't have the recipe handy, but I can post it later tonight if that will help.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2012, 02:22:20 PM by linenoiz »

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Re-yeasting already bottled beer
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2012, 12:41:29 PM »
If the beer got up to 70 post fermentation but you used 50 as the temp for carb calculations then you likely didn't add enough sugar. The temp adjustment is there because the beer will hold on to a certain amount of disolved co2 at 1 atmosphere and that amount is dictated by the temp of the beer. so next time use the highest post ferment temp as your adjustment temp.

for this one you certainly can try popping the tops and adding a grain or 2 of us05, don't worry about the high alcohol levels it can handle it. however this might not be enough if the problem was a lack of sugar. so you could add a little sugar syrup to each bottle as well and that might help. at that low a starting level of carb I don't think you will get bottle bombs if you add another oz of sugar to 5 gallons of beer.

that being said I might start with a few bottles as an experiment. maybe 6 -10 bottles and add a few different levels of sugar with the new yeast. start with no sugar, just yeast and move up by just a couple ml until you are adding the equivelent of another 2 oz per 5 gallons (so make a syrup with 2 oz of sugar, divide the resulting volume by 54 to get the per bottle amount then divide that by 9 to get your starting amount and increase till you get back to that dived by 54 value on the last bottle)
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Offline linenoiz

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Re: Re-yeasting already bottled beer
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2012, 04:54:21 PM »
Thank you for your thoughts. I'm a little reluctant to place the blame on insufficient priming sugar. After messing with Beersmith a bit, the difference in carbonation between using 50f as the temperature and 70f is only about .2 vols. Also, seeing as I only had around 42 bottles filled, I only really ended up with 4 gallons instead of 5. I based the priming sugar calculations on 5 gallons, so 2.5 ounces of sugar should actually offset the temperature mix up and end up right around where I want the carbonation.

At this point, I'm planning on adding US05 and crossing my fingers.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Re-yeasting already bottled beer
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2012, 09:45:43 PM »
sounds like a plan. I opened a bottle of barley wine that was ~18 months in the bottle a few weeks ago and although i had always been unhappy with the carb level it had risen to a nice place finally. so even if you don't add yeast it might get there in the end.
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Online Jimmy K

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Re: Re-yeasting already bottled beer
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2012, 06:04:49 AM »
I agree that champagne yeast might be dangerous. S-05 sounds like a good idea.
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Offline edward

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Re: Re-yeasting already bottled beer
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2012, 08:17:15 AM »
This same thing happened to me with a big RIS.  My final abv was ~12.5%.

The FG was 1.040 and that was with adding champagne yeast three weeks into fermentation.  IME the champagne yeast only ate the simple sugars and didnt touch anything else.

I tried multiple things to get the bottles to carb up.  I uncapped and recapped three times.

1) added a 1/2 tsp of cane sugar and 5 grains of US-05 to each bottle - didnt work
2) added 5 grains of champagne yeast to each bottle - didnt work
3) re-hydrated a pack of dry yeast in one cup of water and added 10 drops of the yeast that settle to the bottom - didnt work

I dont mean to get you down.  These were just some of the things that I tried.

After one year in the bottle the best I was able to manage was flat beer.  I started kegging about six months ago.  After two years (brewed Jan 2010) in the bottle I dumped them all into a keg under a CO2 blanket and force carbed.  When I opened all the bottles to dump them in the keg a couple of them did make a little noise as I opened them.  The vast majority made no noise at all.  I was able to keg almost three gallons of the beer.

Try several things but you might want to have a back up plan.  Either dumping everything back into the bottling bucket and re-bottling or find someone who can keg and dump them all into a keg and force carb it. Oxidation will be a concern no matter what you do.  With an aged beer there will be some oxidation anyway.


Ed




Offline linenoiz

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Re: Re-yeasting already bottled beer
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2012, 11:46:35 AM »
Thought I'd post a follow-up. I added "some" US05 (do you guys really pick out single grains of this stuff? I just poured some in each bottle - probably around 1/4 TSP or so) to each bottle and recapped. Couple weeks later, a viola! Carbonated. Very happy now.

Offline snowtiger87

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Re: Re-yeasting already bottled beer
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2012, 08:43:17 AM »
When I have done this in the past I have re-hydrated the yeast and used an eye dropper to put the solution in the bottle - one dropper full for each. Much easier than counting grains.

I am glad yours worked out ok.
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