Author Topic: carbonating after fermentation has ended  (Read 677 times)

Offline astrivian

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 117
  • Denver, CO
    • View Profile
carbonating after fermentation has ended
« on: August 31, 2010, 08:31:55 PM »
So was on vacation and left my beer in the secondary for about 10 days. During this time, the yeast must have completely died off: I added my sugar primer and bottled and no carbonation.

My question is how do i correct this in the future? If i happen to leave the beer too long in the secondary and there is no yeast activity, how to i carbonate the bottles without having them explode or be over-carbonated?
Never trust a skinny chef and never trust a sober brewer.

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8131
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: carbonating after fermentation has ended
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2010, 11:35:52 PM »
If you're worried about it you can add some fresh yeast at bottling, use your normal amounts of sugar.  It'll be fine.

I'd wait on these bottles though, make sure they are warm enough and give them more time to carbonate.  10 days in secondary is not that long and the yeast may still be in there working on carbing your bottles.  If they don't carb after another couple of weeks at 70F, then you can add a tiny grain of yeast to each bottle and recap.  Total pain, but it generally works.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline svejk

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 174
  • Seattle, Wa
    • View Profile
Re: carbonating after fermentation has ended
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2010, 11:45:28 PM »
{I see that there has been another reply as I was typing this.  I don't feel like editing, so please ignore my repetition.}

Hmmm, 10 days in the secondary doesn't seem like a long enough time to kill off the yeast.  If we had a few more details about your beer we might be able to come up with some ideas as to what happened.  Recipe?  Secondary temp? Gravity readings pre and post fermentation?  Temperature that the bottles of beer have been stored at after bottling?

If the beer was kept really cold during the secondary, this may have encouraged flocculation and you could end up with insufficient yeast to carbonate.  If this was a high gravity beer, that can also cause problems for bottle conditioning.  Another problem can be keeping the beer too cold right after bottling it.  I usually leave my bottled beers at room temperature for about a month to make sure that they carbonate.

In cases where I have a really long or cold secondary fermentation, or super high alcohol beers, I will often pitch some fresh yeast at bottling.  My process is to buy a packet of dry yeast (usually Nottingham), rehydrate it, and add some of that rehydrated yeast to the bottling bucket and then make sure it is stirred in really well before adding my priming sugar and bottling the beer.

As long as the beer has completely finished fermenting and you add an appropriate amount of priming sugar, if the yeast are healthy and able to do their job, you should have carbonated beer and there shouldn't be any problems with bottle bombs.

Offline astrivian

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 117
  • Denver, CO
    • View Profile
Re: carbonating after fermentation has ended
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2010, 04:11:07 PM »
Awesome thanks.

Sorry forgot to mention this was not a "normal" beer, it is 12% ABV :) That is probably why the yeast are dead.

I vaguely remember what you both are talking about. So i can use just cheap yeast to carbonate (the dry stuff)? Add my normal amount of priming sugar and toss in the hydrated yeast. No bombs?

Another reason i ask is that i was oaking a beer for six weeks.

Never trust a skinny chef and never trust a sober brewer.

Offline svejk

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 174
  • Seattle, Wa
    • View Profile
Re: carbonating after fermentation has ended
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2010, 04:37:04 PM »
Yep, as long as your beer has reached final gravity, you can just use the cheap dry ale yeast and not worry about bottle bombs.  The yeast that are added will only consume the priming sugar that you used, and the remaining sugars are unfermentable because if they weren't, the other yeast would have eaten them.  When in doubt about the health of your yeast, pitching dry yeast at bottling is cheap insurance against flat beer.

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8131
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: carbonating after fermentation has ended
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2010, 11:08:30 AM »
When in doubt about the health of your yeast, pitching dry yeast at bottling is cheap insurance against flat beer.
Absolutely, but just to be clear you don't need to use a whole packet of yeast.  That's overkill and will leave you more sediment in the bottle than you really need/want.  I'd stick to no more than 1/2 a packet, maybe even 1/4 of it.
Tom Schmidlin