Author Topic: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles  (Read 635 times)

Offline Alfredbrewer

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Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
« 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.

Offline RC

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Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
« Reply #1 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.

Offline Richard

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Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
« Reply #2 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.
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Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
« Reply #3 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.

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Offline Alfredbrewer

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Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
« Reply #4 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.

Offline ulander6206

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Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
« Reply #5 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.

Offline ASLO

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Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
« Reply #6 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. 

Offline KellerBrauer

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Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
« Reply #7 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!
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Offline rburrelli

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Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
« Reply #8 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.
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Offline Lazy Ant Brewing

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Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
« Reply #9 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.
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Offline Silver_Is_Money

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Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
« Reply #10 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.

Offline FMbb

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Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
« Reply #11 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

Offline Big Monk

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Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
« Reply #12 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.
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Offline goose

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Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
« Reply #13 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.
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Offline Robert

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Re: Inconsistent carbonation in bottles
« Reply #14 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.)
« Last Edit: June 01, 2019, 02:31:14 PM by Robert »
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