Carbonation

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by dkramer, Jun 30, 2012.

  1. dkramer

    dkramer New Member

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    I've just recently started brewing beer and have done about four 5 gallon batches. The beer turns out good other than it seems a little flat, more like it just doesn't have much of a head on it when I pour it into a glass. There is some foam, but it seems like a have to try and create the head as I pour it. I'm using a priming sugar that comes with my extract kits, so my question is, do home brews typically not produce the head/carbonation that commercial brews do? Or am I doing something wrong? Thanks.


    Dan
     
  2. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    Extract batches can be harder to get a good head on because they don't have the same proteins and other head retention compounds that come from an all grain batch.

    Here is a write up we did awhile back on this topic:
    http://www.brewersfriend.com/2009/12/19 ... retention/

    It can be very frustrating to get flat beer.

    Some suggestions:

    1) Try steeping grains in your recipe. Use 1/4 - 1/2 lb of a malt called carapils for a 5 gallon batch. That malt is beneficial to head retention. Flaked wheat is another option.
    2) Wait a couple more weeks, it could be the bottles are still just conditioning.
    3) Make sure your beer glass is clean and free of any detergents. Soap is the enemy of beer head.
    4) Make sure your bottles were totally clean. Some people use a dishwasher, but that leaves behind some detergent residue (even if the dishwasher is ran without soap). I soak my bottles in Starsan, no rinse, and have acceptable results.
    5) Try a good quality cap, like an oxi-cap, that seemed to help me. Cheap caps are not worth a darn.
    6) Keg your beer. My best beers are kegged. Carbonation and head retention is always perfect on these beers. If you can afford the upgrade, you'll love it!
    7) Make sure to get the freshest ingredients possible. Stale extract screws up a batch in many ways, and flatness is one of them.

    Try our bottle priming calculator to cross check your expected volumes of CO2:
    http://www.brewersfriend.com/beer-priming-calculator/
    You might shoot for +0.25 volumes of CO2 over what the kit gave you next time, just to see if that helps. Don't over carbonate your beer, it will be a mess every time you open a bottle.

    Happy brewing!
    Larry
     
  3. dkramer

    dkramer New Member

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    Thanks for the tips and advice. I've been cleaning my bottles in the dishwasher without soap and have also been using the heat dry cycle to sanitize them, but maybe that's not been doing the job. I use Starsan for all of my other sanitizing, maybe I'll have to start using it for my bottles too. I didn't know there was a difference in caps. I've just been using the ones that have come with the kits. Also, as a newbie, I know that I get impatient when waiting for my batches to get done. I haven't tried anything younger than 5 weeks, but I suppose waiting a another couple weeks could beneficial. Thanks again, Larry. I'll have to re-post when I try my next batch and let you know the results.
     
  4. Blackmuse

    Blackmuse Well-Known Member

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    I usually don't have anything around longer than 5 weeks either!! lol - There was one beer though that I have had around for about 8 -10 weeks and it has the most carbonation yet!! YOu actually have to pour it very slowly so that you don't get too much. I think it was simply the extra time in the bottle. It was carbing @ 68-70 degrees for about 3 weeks before I put it down stairs where it has been 56-64 degrees. I'd love to see this in ALL my beers but waiting can be so damn tough!
     
  5. cearum

    cearum Member

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    Just to be sure, are you carbonating your beers in warmer temps (60-70 F)? If you're storing your bottles in the fridge they won't carbonate very fast. Sometimes it's a silly question, sometimes it's the right question. Just throwing it out there.
     
  6. Dan.Castanera

    Dan.Castanera New Member

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    Very good point actually. Bottle conditioning and carbonation occurs when the yeasts eat through the small amount of sugar you add when bottling. Yeast does really well in warmer temps and will work faster. Cooling yeast down will slow and eventually stall fermentation.
    That being said, liquid actually holds the CO2 better when it's cold. When force carbonating a keg, the colder the beer the less pressure I need to create good bubbles.
    BTW: Kegging is the way to go! I never want to bottle again.
     
  7. JimFisher

    JimFisher New Member

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    200+ batches and I also use the dishwasher-only so no problems there. I've also rarely had a batch that wasn't carbonated by 2 weeks. MAYBE 3 or 4 batches were better at 3 weeks but "5 weeks" or more is silly. :) I always try one at 1 week and am often pleased with the carbonation even then.

    Just be sure to store the bottles at at least 72f, maybe even 80f and be sure to use the BF priming sugar calculator.

    One last tip: Regular table sugar is just fine for bottling. No need to spend extra on corn sugar.
     

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