Bottle Conditioned Carbonation Increases (too much) Over Weeks-Months?

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by 51brew, Oct 18, 2020.

  1. 51brew

    51brew New Member

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    #1 51brew, Oct 18, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2020
    So this may seem like an obvious answer here, but does the carbonation level in bottle conditioned brews continue to increase (significantly) over months? To elaborate on my scenario...

    I had brewed a number of beers throughout early 2020, and saved 1-2 of each to enjoy at towards the end of the year (kind of like a sampling party for myself). Beers brewed in Jan-May, which were fine earlier in the year, all proved to be gushers when I popped them open in late September.

    There was a good variety, but the common factors are...
    • Partial mash
    • Dry yeast
    • Corn sugar primer
    • ABV 5-7%
    • If anything, beer sits in the fermenter a bit longer than necessary, and FG seems to be where I'm expecting
    • No dry-hopping
    • Stored in basement, which keeps a steady ~68-72 all year (no specific temp control for beer)
    Is this a case of, given this method, these beers need to be enjoyed in 1-3 months following bottling? Or is there steps a relative newbie can be taking? Would a logical next-step be to try a leap at kegging? (because until now I've been able to keep it real simple but good)
     
  2. Daniel Parshley

    Daniel Parshley Active Member

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    #2 Daniel Parshley, Oct 18, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2020
    Did you dry hop? There is discussion about enzymes being released during dry hopping and converting unfermentable sugars into fermentable sugars. My brewing is very similar to yours and I have noted higher carbonation in brews that were dry hopped later in the ferment. Perhaps others will know more about this. Also, search "Dry Hop Creep" on the web for more about this subject.
     
  3. philjohnwilliams

    philjohnwilliams Well-Known Member

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    My guess is that you have a low level infection that is slowly consuming sugars that the yeast couldn't. I had a similar experience years ago, which I finally solved by bleach sanitizing my equipment and replacing all my plastic tubing.
     
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  4. Bubba Wade

    Bubba Wade Well-Known Member

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    The final carbonation will be based on how much fermentable sugar is in the beer. X amount of sugar equals Y amount of CO2. There are only a couple of things I can think of that might make the CO2 increase.

    1. Slow acting yeast. However, at the temperature you are storing the beer, this should be ideal for quick fermentation.
    2. Over-attenuating yeast. Some strains can ferment "unfermentable" sugars. I use a Saison yeast that regularly shoots 5 points past what the recipe builder predicts. However, the last 3 points come very slowly.
    3. Bacteria. These can ferment what yeast cannot and cause gushers.

    Anyone else have some other ideas?
     
  5. 51brew

    51brew New Member

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    Thanks for question - But I did not dry-hop
     
  6. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    I second this.
    Sometimes gushers are a result of priming sugar miscalculation or poor initial attenuation and bottling before final FG is reached but that will usually show up consistently early in the cycle.Bottles that are fine for weeks of months and then turn into gushers or bombs are a different thing.
    Plastic buckets are always suspect as is tubing, but spigots, valves or ball joints anywhere in the system need to be disassembled and cleaned thoroughly. Bottling wand valves are a potential source of infection. Anything post-boil should be cleaned and sanitized really well, of course. Sometimes bottles can have just a little stubborn dry sediment in the bottom or have a little ring in the neck. They can look clean and just have a minute smudge that will harbor bacteria or wild yeast. A thorough soak in hot PBW followed by a good brushing will make sure they're clean. Be sure your sanitizer is up to the task, too. I use Star San but other products can be fine.
    Good luck! ;)
     
  7. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    That's what I thought, too.
     
  8. BarbarianBrewer

    BarbarianBrewer Well-Known Member

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    Do the beers taste the same now as they did when you drank them earlier in the year? If they have an off-taste now that they didn't have then, then I agree with the others that it's likely an infection. However here is something else to consider...

    Are you using a priming sugar calculator to see how much sugar to add? If you are brewing with kits, you don't want to add the whole package of corn sugar as they normally include 5 oz of corn sugar which is too much for most 5 gallon (19 L) batches.
     
  9. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, if they have any tart or sour notes to them it would definitely lead to an infection.
     
  10. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    As my friend the Colorado state viticulturalist says, all it takes is one cell and enough time.
     
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  11. 51brew

    51brew New Member

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    #11 51brew, Oct 20, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2020
    Thanks all, and to confirm... yes Primarily kits still, and yes the whole 5 oz package of corn sugar. (Even the 2 times I used a recipe calculator to make my own, I still used the 5 oz of priming sugar)

    No real off tastes that I can recall, once I got past the point that I could actually drink the gushers. But that doesn't mean they weren't there (just means I was going to push my way through that beer, no matter what)

    I'll definitely make sure that I sanitize my plastic parts (tubing, siphon, buckets, etc.) even more diligently - and if it persists, I'm not opposed to buying replacements to see what happens. Sounds like bleach is a viable alternative or extra step?

    I do reuse my bottles, and what I try to do is
    • clean with 1 step after I've drunk what was in there
    • then clean again again with 1 step before 1-2 days before bottling
    • Sanitize with Star San or IO Star same 1-2 days before bottling
    • and cover with sanitized tin foil, so nothing finds it ways in
    • Sanitize again with Star San or IO Star right on bottling day
    I know that carbonation volume is probably a separate convo, but I'll also sanity check a calculator and see if I should cut back some of the priming sugar for 5 gallons.
     
  12. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    You can use bleach, just be sure you rinse well.
     
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  13. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    Can you check the gravity of the gushers? See if the gravity has dropped more than you'd expect from just conditioning?
     
  14. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    #14 J A, Oct 20, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2020
    One-step is a sanitizer more than a cleaner. You need to do a hot PBW soak. Very small amounts of "trub" or "krausen" residue from the fermentation in the bottle are probably leaving a little something that needs to be cleaned more aggressively. Sounds like you're not even using a brush so you really need to get inside there with something that's going to get the grunge out.
     
  15. philjohnwilliams

    philjohnwilliams Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't use bleach as an everyday sanitizer, but when you have a suspected infection in your system it does a great job of killing it off, but you really fo need to rinse well to get rid of all the bleach when you are done.
     
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  16. BarbarianBrewer

    BarbarianBrewer Well-Known Member

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    My rule-of-thumb is a good rinse after emptying and a good clean & sanitize before filling.

    Here's my standard procedure for bottles
    1) After emptying the bottle I fill it 1/4 full with water, swirl and dump
    2) Again fill 1/4 full and this time put my thumb over the top and shake vigorously and dump
    3) Store until bottling day
    4) Day before bottling I fill a cooler with bottles and add hot water and OxyClean (poor man's PBW) and soak overnight.
    5) Day of bottling
    a) Use a bottle brush (most of the time)
    b) Rinse outside of bottle in a bucket of water
    c) Rinse inside of bottle with a bottle washer (https://www.northernbrewer.com/products/fermenters-favorite-bottle-washer)
    d) Sanitize with Starsan using a bottle rinser (https://www.northernbrewer.com/products/vinator-bottle-rinser)
    e) Drip dry on bottle tree or rack ​
     

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