Author Topic: Belgian ale carbonation issues  (Read 768 times)

Offline slats

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Belgian ale carbonation issues
« on: April 25, 2015, 07:03:40 PM »
We brewed a Belgian ale three ways (one 10 gallon batch- three different yeasts). Moved each one to secondary to let it clear up and then bottled it. We used coopers carb drops. The carbonation is minimal in two of the batches and almost nonexistent in the 3rd.

Did we let it clear up too much in secondary? To the point where too much yeast settled out?

Was the alcohol level high enough that the yeast had issues with that? It was about 10% ABV....

Maybe we should have force carbonated and filled with the counter pressure bottler. We still aren't getting consistent results with that though...

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Offline duboman

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Re: Belgian ale carbonation issues
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2015, 07:15:17 PM »
At what temp are the bottles sitting? 70+ is ideal and a big beer like that will most likely take longer than the average 10-14 days.

I never used them but the Coopers drops have been known at times to not work so well I've heard.
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Offline denny

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Re: Belgian ale carbonation issues
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2015, 08:21:00 PM »
I vote for the carb drops as the problem.
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Offline robstroud

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Re: Belgian ale carbonation issues
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2015, 08:58:23 PM »
Try turning the bottles upside down and put them in a space with an ambient temperature of about 72. Keep them there for 3 days then check (turn the bottle right side up before opening).

This has solved my issues with lack of carbonation in the past.

   

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Belgian ale carbonation issues
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2015, 07:01:57 PM »
At 10% ABV with Belgian yeast I would be surprised if your problem came from a lack of capable yeast. Given the ABV it may take longer but I don't know how long you have had the beer bottled.

Did you ferment these beers at warm temperatures? CO2 in solution is temperature-dependent and at warmer temperatures beer gives up more CO2 that would be part of the CO2 you want in the beer for carbonation. If you need X amount in solution plus Y amount of CO2 from the carbonation drops to reach your desired carbonation and you have less than X then you won't have enough carbonation. If you fermented in the 70s but not hotter then this is probably not your problem. Age can also play a factor in how much CO2 is in solution but in my experience not much of a problem unless the beers aged warm for months or aged for more than a few months.

It could just be the carb drops. I've heard lots of bad things about them.
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Offline pete b

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Re: Belgian ale carbonation issues
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2015, 12:01:18 PM »
Try turning the bottles upside down and put them in a space with an ambient temperature of about 72. Keep them there for 3 days then check (turn the bottle right side up before opening).

This has solved my issues with lack of carbonation in the past.

 
I like that you specified turning bottles right side up before opening.
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Offline pete b

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Re: Belgian ale carbonation issues
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2015, 12:06:26 PM »
At 10% ABV with Belgian yeast I would be surprised if your problem came from a lack of capable yeast. Given the ABV it may take longer but I don't know how long you have had the beer bottled.

Did you ferment these beers at warm temperatures? CO2 in solution is temperature-dependent and at warmer temperatures beer gives up more CO2 that would be part of the CO2 you want in the beer for carbonation. If you need X amount in solution plus Y amount of CO2 from the carbonation drops to reach your desired carbonation and you have less than X then you won't have enough carbonation. If you fermented in the 70s but not hotter then this is probably not your problem. Age can also play a factor in how much CO2 is in solution but in my experience not much of a problem unless the beers aged warm for months or aged for more than a few months.

It could just be the carb drops. I've heard lots of bad things about them.
This raises a question for me. Priming sugar calculators ask for the temperature of the beer. Should you plug in the the highest temperature it hit during fermentation? The temperature it was at longest? For most beers I ferment in low 60 s finish primary 68-72 ish, then put in a cool cellar for a few days to a week before bottling.
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Offline slats

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Re: Belgian ale carbonation issues
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2015, 12:47:01 PM »
I fermented in a chest freezer at 68 degrees. This was the highest temp it hit during fermentation for both primary and secondary.

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Belgian ale carbonation issues
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2015, 03:45:32 PM »
At 10% ABV with Belgian yeast I would be surprised if your problem came from a lack of capable yeast. Given the ABV it may take longer but I don't know how long you have had the beer bottled.

Did you ferment these beers at warm temperatures? CO2 in solution is temperature-dependent and at warmer temperatures beer gives up more CO2 that would be part of the CO2 you want in the beer for carbonation. If you need X amount in solution plus Y amount of CO2 from the carbonation drops to reach your desired carbonation and you have less than X then you won't have enough carbonation. If you fermented in the 70s but not hotter then this is probably not your problem. Age can also play a factor in how much CO2 is in solution but in my experience not much of a problem unless the beers aged warm for months or aged for more than a few months.

It could just be the carb drops. I've heard lots of bad things about them.
This raises a question for me. Priming sugar calculators ask for the temperature of the beer. Should you plug in the the highest temperature it hit during fermentation? The temperature it was at longest? For most beers I ferment in low 60 s finish primary 68-72 ish, then put in a cool cellar for a few days to a week before bottling.

I calculate against the warmest temperature at which the beer has sat. That has never steered me wrong whether the highest temperature has been 65 or 95.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Belgian ale carbonation issues
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2015, 05:11:04 PM »
We brewed a Belgian ale three ways (one 10 gallon batch- three different yeasts).

Does that make it a tripel?

As far as the Cooper's carbonation drops, I've had my issues with them but it's always been over-carbonation and/or inconsistency.  I've never had them fail completely.

I would give it time and warmth.  Unless you've already done that.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Belgian ale carbonation issues
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2015, 05:34:08 PM »
As far as the Cooper's carbonation drops, I've had my issues with them but it's always been over-carbonation and/or inconsistency.  I've never had them fail completely.

I would give it time and warmth.  Unless you've already done that.
+1 on it not being the carb drops. I've heard of other brands having issues, but the Coopers ones have been rock solid reliable for me.

The big questions are how long they've been carbonating and at what temp. Since the Coopers drops are simply a ball of candied sugar, it will dissolve more slowly at lower temperatures. I usually carbonate at 70ish degrees (F). A day or two after bottling you can often still see the sugar drop in the bottom of the bottle. I usually invert the bottles gently a few times every day or two for the first week if I think of it. I think that helps speed the process along when using something like carb drops.

I give big beers at least 3 weeks before I even bother checking carbonation, and it can often take a month or so at room temp before they reach the level of carbonation I'm shooting for.
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