Author Topic: Over-carbonation  (Read 3395 times)

Online fmader

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Over-carbonation
« on: December 25, 2012, 10:20:51 PM »
I have had the issue of over-carbonation with a few of my brews. I add priming sugar to the book, so I don't think that's the issue, because it doesn't happen with all of my beers. Off the top of my head, I think it has happened to a single hop Chinook IPA, Pumpkin Ale, and then, most recently, my Celebration IPA. The Celebration was a 10 gallon batch and half was kegged (tremendous), and half was bottled. The bottled beer is very over carbonated. I won't say that it's a gusher, but the carbonation slowing comes out of the bottle and is very difficult to pour. I think that I have come to the conclusion that these beers are not getting completely fermented. With my early beers, I have gone one week in primary and one in secondary and 2 weeks in bottle. For the last 4 or 5 batches, I have been going 1 1/2 to 2 weeks in the primary and 1 1/2 to 2 weeks in the secondary (I did for the celebration). I have been using White Labs, because I feel that it leaves a much cleaner taste than any dry yeasts. My temp is constant 70-74 degrees I'm thinking that I may not be transferring enough yeast into the secondary to complete the fermentation. Could this be the issue? Or does anybody else have any possible solutions?
Frank

Offline mainebrewer

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Re: Over-carbonation
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2012, 06:01:27 AM »
I don't think the problem is incomplete fermentation.
1.5 - 2 weeks in primary is usually plenty of time to complete fermentation.
Do you check final gravity a couple of times before bottling?
"If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?" Will Rogers

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Over-carbonation
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2012, 06:37:16 AM »
Frank, after following the textbook guidance regarding priming sugar for my first couple of years brewing, getting way too many gushers, I decided to cut back on priming sugar a little bit.  For example, try cutting back to like 90% of what the rules of thumb would dictate.  You'll still get plenty of carbonation, no worries about that, but without as many gushers.  If 90% is still too much, then cut back to 80% -- incidentally, that's about where my beers are carbonated now.  I still get a gusher on rare occasion for whatever reason, but it is extremely rare that I get a beer that is nearly flat.  Most beers are perfectly carbonated.  So that is my advice.  Not sure exactly why it happens, and there are a lot of variables involved.  However I do think the rules of thumb for priming sugar set the amount too high......

Just a possibility, but recommendations to overprime, at least in a few cases, might even be on purpose in order to guarantee success for beginning homebrewers who are always too eager to pop their first 6-pack, and by priming a little bit too much on the high side, they are guaranteed some carbonation when their impatience wears thin.  Once they learn that the beers become gushers with age, they can choose whether they want to cut down on priming suger.  For lazy brewers like me, I can wait a month before opening a bottle of beer.  Sometimes.  And by then, carbonation is done.  Or often I will set a couple of bottles in a warm spot in my house (75 F) so that they carbonate within about one week, and leave the rest in my basement to carbonate in a cool environment (60 F).  By the time the first couple are gone and I am craving some more, the ones in the basement are usually ready to roll.
Dave

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Offline erockrph

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Re: Over-carbonation
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2012, 06:49:56 AM »
Make sure you are using a calculator to determine how much priming sugar to add based on your fermentation temps and so on. If you're just adding a full 5oz bag of corn sugar to each batch, that may be a bit much for some beers. Here are two good calculators to use:

http://www.northernbrewer.com/priming-sugar-calculator/
http://www.brewersfriend.com/beer-priming-calculator/

Unless you have a specific reason to use a secondary (fruit beer, dry hopping and you're reusing the yeast, etc.), you can leave your beer in the primary the whole time. I've left beer in primary for over 6 weeks with no ill effect, and I'm sure there are others here who will tell you they've gone even longer.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Online fmader

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Re: Over-carbonation
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2012, 08:06:29 AM »
This is good stuff! It's so much better being an active participant in a forum than just reading them...I think I made the right decision and getting a membership.

I do take gravity readings, which all go as planned...so that's why I was getting confused by this issue of over-carbonation. I have not used a calculator, but I use a floating chart that is in the "How to Brew" book by Palmer. That's about all I use that book for. I wasn't a big fan, but it got my feet on the ground with brewing. Since I switched to all-grain brewing in June or July, the Ray Daniels' "Designing Great Beers" has been my biggest benefit especially with making recipes. So, that makes a lot of sense, Dave. When my uncle and I started in March, we were pretty anxious to trying our beers and were trying them after a week in the bottle. Now that we have a room full of beer, that's not necessary haha. So, I will try cutting the corn sugar a bit. I think we had been going on the higher end of the suggested CO2 volume as well. We bottled a honey porter a week and half ago, but with the disappointment of the bottled Celebration IPA, I used the minimum suggest CO2 volume. We will see what happens.

Thanks!
Frank

Offline hubie

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Re: Over-carbonation
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2012, 08:53:48 AM »
Because you mentioned that it was a split batch, another consideration is how well you knew the volume of the beer you bottled.  If you added the amount of sugar for 5 gallons but you actually had less than 5 gallons in your bottling bucket, you'd end up with more carbonation than you intended.

Online fmader

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Re: Over-carbonation
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2012, 09:53:36 AM »
Actually, we bottled nearly six gallons now that I think of it. Our keg is an 1/8 of a keg...I think it's 3.8 gallons, maybe 4. I'm pretty sure I used 5 ounces of priming sugar. All of my notes are at my Uncle's house. That's where we do the brewing.
Frank

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Over-carbonation
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2012, 12:56:23 PM »
Couple of important factors.  First, beer fermented at a cooler temp will retain more dissolved CO2 than one fermented warmer, so this time of year its often necessary to use less priming sugar.  The calculators ask about temp for this reason.

Second, I think beers with more body naturally fizz up more vigorously just because the extra body holds the bubbles better.
Lennie
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