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Homebrew carbonation problems

11-06-01I’ve brewed three batches of beer since I have been in Lubbock, Tx. Every single one of them has not had proper carbonation and it is starting to drive me nuts. The first two beers, Belgian Dubbel and Belgian Tripel, were both carbonated with carbonation drops. I put the proper amount, according to the packaging, into each bottle, but both are under-carbonated. The sad thing is that these styles of beer are supposed to be highly carbonated. They have nice flavor, just not enough of the bubbles.

For my Pumpkin Ale I went back to my old carbonation method, dry malt extract. It costs more than corn sugar and carbonation drops, and takes a bit longer, but I have always been happy with the results. As of right now it is more carbonated than the Belgian beers, but still not up to snuff.

I have been trying to think of reasons why my beers are not carbonating. I’ll say that I got a bad batch of carbonation drops or the packaging is wrong. The Dubbel is at 6% ABV and the Tripel at 9% ABV. I don’t think there is a problem with the yeast being tried and not fully carbonating. The Pumpkin Ale has its own problems which might be affecting it. Because of the stuck sparge and a few other things it is coming in at an amazing 14.5% ABV. The yeast I used is not known to be highly tolerant, so it could be stressed out or dead, thus the lack of carbonation.

Eventually I will be kegging things, but that is another year or so off. So until then I need to work on my carbonation. I never had a problem back in PA, perhaps the 3000+ feet of altitude change is part of it, I don’t know. My next homebrew is going to be lower ABV so I can get a better idea of what is going on.

Belgian Dubbel bottling

08-28-01I brewed my Belgian Dubbel on the 15 of August and got around to bottling it on Wednesday the 26th. All of the fermentation was complete and the beer just smelled wonderful. This is the first beer I have bottled in the new digs so it was a bit of guess and check to find the proper routine. I did eventually find something that worked for me. I also happened to use a lot of new products when I bottled this time.

I started off by putting 5 gallons of water into my bottling bucket. I then added the correct amount of Iodophor Sanitizer. This is the second beer that I have used this stuff on. The first one would be the Tripel. I also tossed a bunch of bottles into the bucket to get them sanitized. 08-28-02After a minute or so (I actually left them in for 5 just to be safe) I pulled them out and put them on the dishwasher rack. Then I put a new round of bottles in and repeated the steps. Finally I threw in my auto-siphon, hose, and bottle filler. I poured a gallon and a half of the sanitizer solution into a smaller bucket just so I had some on hand.

08-28-03I then got the beer out of the closet and started transferring it to the bottling bucket. In all it took about 5 minutes to transfer all of the beer over. Once transferred, I put the bottling bucket on the counter with the bottle filler handing over the edge. Grabbing my bottles I put carbonation drops into them. This is the first time I have used these and I am anxious to see the results. The package said put 3 for low carbonation, 4 for regular carbonation, and 5 for high carbonation. These drops are made up of corn sugar, heading powder, and a few other ingredients. I opted for 4 tabs, mainly because I want to get the Tripel done from the same packet. 08-28-04

So now the beer is being carbonated and should be ready to drink by next weekend. The final beer came out to 5.9% which falls .1 points away from the minimum alcohol percentage for the style. Do I care? Not really, they are just guidelines. I am pretty happy with it. If Austin Homebrew Supply hadn’t shorted me the 1/2 pound of grain, I would of easily fallen into the correct range. A review of the beer should be coming once it is ready to drink. I already like it raw, I can’t wait to drink it carbonated.

Tripel upate #2

08-17-01On Saturday I reracked my Tripel to a carboy and also brewed the Dubbel, which was pitched onto the yeast cake of the Tripel. I’ve been getting a stuck fermentation in my mini fermenter so I got my trusty refractometer out and took a reading from the real thing. Don’t you know it, that is stuck as well. Crap.

I pondered my options while it was transfering over and decided to boil some water with some corn sugar and pitch it in. I only used 2 tablespoons worth to try and jump start fermentation. On the plus side, it is tasting excellent. I don’t think it is going to be as strong as I had hoped, but the taste is there, and that is what is more important. You can’t tell from the picture, but the beer is starting to clear nicely. I’m going to leave it sit for another few weeks and test occasionaly to see if anything else happens. If not, I’ll be looking forward to my great tasting 5% Tripel. Crap.