Conditioning Temperatures = Geyser Beers! HELP!

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by BellRockBrewery, Apr 3, 2019.

  1. Bell_Rock_Brewery

    Bell_Rock_Brewery New Member

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    Hi,

    TL;DR - why have my last few beers overflowed when popped despite my thorough cleaning!?

    I've been brewing now for a few years and never used to have any problems but it seems that the longer I do this and the more knowledgeable I get (or should be getting with experience) the more mishaps I have.

    Recently I had a batch of beer geyser out of the bottles when I opened them. The first couple that I put in the fridge for a few days first were a bit on the fizzy side for the style but when I opened a couple more that had just been at room temperature they foamed right out of the top. Not a full on geyser (I've seen really bad examples that hit the ceiling!) but probably a 2 inch flow above the top of the bottle.

    Now, the first thought was "maybe it's been contaminated?" which is certainly possible but I am super thorough when it comes to cleaning my equipment as I wash everything thoroughly in very hot water before soaking overnight in PBW (at least after every 2-3 brews if not after every brew) and I always soak again fresh in StarSan on bottling day. This goes for all bits of kit that would come into contact with my fermented beer. I even take apart things like the bottling wand and tap on the bottling bucket to make sure there's no gunk hiding in there either (as this has happened to a friend of mine many a time before he realized his mistake). I also don't think it's a pre-bottling contamination issue as the beers always taste, smell and look just fine at the time they're ready to be bottled and I take the same precautions when transferring from the kettle to the primary.

    The other reason why I am pretty confident that it's not a contamination issue during bottling is that the last batch I split the yield with a friend and we used the same bucket with StarSan to rinse and soak the pre-cleaned bottles; the same bottling bucket and the same bottling equipment (hose, wand etc.) and his batch is completely fine!

    I'm therefore wondering if it has anything to do with the storage temperature. I used to just leave my beer in a small room that is both dark and cool since it's in the basement and leave it to condition for at least 3-4 weeks before I'd put them in the fridge in batches to cool them down further and clear up in the bottle. But now I tend to leave them in the same room with a heater on and a wall mounted thermometer that reads anywhere between 16-20C (60-68F) depending on the setting of the heater. I started doing this because I convinced myself that it made sense to try and carbonate/condition at the same or similar temperatures to the yeast I was using (usually something like a Safale US-05 which has a pretty robust temperature range). The bottles aren't in contact with the heater but I am wondering if the higher temperature is having an effect on the bottles. Is it possible that if CO2 can dissolve into solution when a beer is cold that the opposite is true and more of it can come out of solution when the beer is warmer?

    In short, I've lost a whole batch to this and 2 other beers that I had some bottles left over from in that room were also "poppers" when I opened them, having previously been fine, and as already stated at least one of these was part of this shared batch of which the other 50% taken away by a friend turned out just fine!

    Any help and advice would be very much appreciated!

    Andy

    Beer Overflow.jpg
     
  2. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Well you could try a different sanitizer if like you said you've been brewing for years well some spoilage bacteria (lactobaccilus) loves warm environments around the brewery. What's it called not that I use it myself (maybe I should do this too) iodaphor iodene sanitizer this may combat any bacteria that's become used to your cleaning regime?

    It makes perfect sence to secondary ferment your bottles at or same as ferm temp we know that ale yeast love 18-20c and can stall if below that prime temp.

    When I bottles I used to referment my bottles in shelve above.my indoor heater it was pretty toasty in there is put them here for 2 weeks then out in the shed once I was sure refermentation/carbonation sorted.

    Yes co2 will absorb better into a cool solution your bottles are doing this after let's say a few days in the fridge?
     
  3. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like you are over thinking the problem. It is caused by 1 of 2 things.
    Over carbonation.(to much sugar)
    An infection. Could be as tb noted something that's slowly slipped into your system.
    Lots of people cringe when bleach is mentioned but sometimes it is your friend when used properly.
     
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  4. Bell_Rock_Brewery

    Bell_Rock_Brewery New Member

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    Well for this most recent batch I added some "BrewBody" as I felt the stout was a little thin. The guy at the brew store said that it shouldn't add any extra sugar to my priming calculations but when I tasted a small part it definitely had a hint of sweetness to it. I'm not sure if what's in BrewBody counts as ferment-able sugars but it could have added something perhaps?

    If it's an infection (which it could be) it still seems odd that the bottles taken away by my friend for the shared batch haven't been affected. If PBW isn't killing whatever potential infection is there I'm definitely open to using bleach as an alternative but what do you mean by "used properly"? Just asking because if it's a case that it leaves behind traces of something, like a residue, if used too neat (as an example) then I don't want it to affect my equipment by using it!

    Thanks for the feedback - it's much appreciated.
     
  5. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    Exactly. The likely cause is too much sugar.

    The infection doesn't have to be bacteria. It could be caused by a diastaicus yeast, which bleach can kill easily. Some Belgian strains are naturally a diastaticus variant and they will produce an enzyme that continues to convert the dextrins to sugars after the beer appears to be done with fermentation and then out of the blue it starts up again causing bottle bombs. It makes it look like you added too much sugar.

    You can tell it's bacteria because the beer can turn sour or funky. Diastaticus yeast doesn't change the flavor much, it just gets wild.
     
  6. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    There's another reason, one that happens to me, that has nothing to do with sanitation or carbonation: It's use of calcium carbonate in beer. If I use it, I get gushers due to microcrystals forming in the bottles. But the Brewbody discussion above sounds like simple overcarbonation. One thing: PBW is NOT a sanitizer! It's a cleaning agent. I use it to clean but for sanitizing, use Star San. Or bleach on glass (not plastic - it can be absorbed - or stainless - it can corrode it). Just be sure you rinse well.
     
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  7. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Friends don't let friends open beers at room temperature. :D :D :D
    You mentioned that the longer you brew, the more problems you seem to have and that brings to mind the likelihood for equipment to pick up contamination. Any plastic bucket used to do a lot of batches is suspect. Anything with a spigot is, as well. Even things like rubber stoppers that you use with airlocks can be an issue as well as transfer tubes and autosiphons.
    Even though you're fastidious, you're constantly creating a perfect environment and wild yeasts can thrive. It'd be instantly recognizable if you were having trouble with lactobacillus but wild yeasts can be subtle and cause over-attenuation with changing flavors too much.
     
  8. Drewfus1

    Drewfus1 Member

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    How many volumes of CO2 are you targeting with these beers? What kind of priming sugar?
     
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  9. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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    Just a couple of tablespoons in 5 gal. Is enough bleach to sanitize. Good rinsing after a good soak and let dry and air out till smell is gone. The nose knows as it can smell just a few ppm residual. But it seems to me your answer is what is the difference between the batch split. Was there anything done differently between the 2 splits before they went in the bottle or was there any prep work to 1 set of bottles and not the other?
    Agree:D. Are the other beers your buddy has chilled or were they chilled after 2 weeks?
     
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  10. Bell_Rock_Brewery

    Bell_Rock_Brewery New Member

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    Hi all, thanks for the replies.

    - so there's definitely no sour, funky or otherwise "off" tastes - it's just too fizzy. I've tasted some other beers by a friend who was having cleaning issues and the off flavours or things like diacetyl were very apparent. It hasn't been the case that all my recent beers have done this so I'm thinking it's likely a more isolated case of over-carbonation.


    - I live in Norway and so the water is pretty clear with a Ca+2 of ~21 (though I'm not sure if this is a lot or not as I haven't really dabbled with water chemistry stuff up the this point). Good to know re the use of bleach as I have primarily plastic fermentation equipment as it's difficult to get the glass carboys that I'd like to have over here. For the cleaning, I tend to use PBW to clean the bottles themselves and leave to soak completely submerged in a brewing bucket for around 12-24 hours. I always rinse the bottles thoroughly after they've been used anyway but there's always the chance for some residual gunk to get left behind so PBW takes care of that. Then I rinse and dry and on bottling day, which is usually the day after the PBW soak, I submerge in StarSan and then pour that out which leaves bubbles behind (which I've heard should be fine) and then I fill the bottles with the beer.

    - I'd normally chill my bottles in the fridge for a good few days before opening them and this usually works fine but I've had a bottle explode once or twice in my small storage room (always in the middle of the night!) which is why I then worried about this happening to more of them. I don't have the space to chill an entire 20L batch at once so some will just have to sit tight in crates until they're ready to be drunk. I've previously used a plastic bucket for bottling that doesn't have a spigot and I've been using my siphon instead but the last 2 batches I've used a bucket with a spigot as it seemed easier. Though it has been cleaned it could be, as you say, something that's holding on despite being PBW'd etc.

    - For the shared batch which was a Blackberry Wit I carbonated to 4 volumes thinking I'd aim for somewhere in the middle of the 3.3-4.5 volumes this site recommends for German wheat beers and I can see that maybe that was too high. For the stout (the one pictured in the OP) I used 2.1 volumes but this was supposed to be a Chocolate Orange stout which had 99% cocoa chocolate, Cointreau and grated orange zest added during the boil. And then I added a bag of the dried sweet orange peel (soaked in boiling water first and then put in a muslin bag which was subsequently all soaked in a StarSan solution) to the primary at the end of fermentation. And of course I added this "BrewBody" stuff to it just prior to bottling. It could be that due to all the additions something wasn't finished fermenting but I had the same reading on my Tilt for 2 weeks before I decided to bottle. I use Dextrose/Glucose that I buy from the brew store as my priming sugar and I use the Corn Sugar number when calculating how much I need to add. Usually this has caused me no issues.

    - Nope. He washed his bottles before bringing them over but he used my bucket with StarSan solution to submerge and rinse same as I used for my bottles. The only difference is I bottled all of mine in 0.5L swing-top bottles and he put his in re-purposed Kronenbourg Blanc 330ml bottles with regular caps.

    Chilling definitely makes a difference as the Blackberry Wit has a hell of a pop when opened but doesn't overflow but when at room temperature it actually blows the swing top clean off. Since I can't chill an entire batch worth at the same time it's more of a concern that beer waiting to be chilled and drunk could explode (as has happened before, albeit only once or twice) when sitting at room temperature.

    I'm inclined to agree that over-carbonating the beer is the most likely culprit but I will invest in a new bottling bucket again without spigot.

    Thanks!
     
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  11. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    4 volumes Co2 wowie:)! No wonder world war 3 is happening in your storage room.
     
  12. Bell_Rock_Brewery

    Bell_Rock_Brewery New Member

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    Yeah that one was a silly mistake on my part. My ballpark goal is to usually aim for somewhere in the middle for the style guide but I should have double checked since I've never gone up to anything that high before.
     
  13. Drewfus1

    Drewfus1 Member

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    Over priming is likely the problem with your wit. I'm suspicious that the BrewBody product combined with the possibility that your stout wasn't completely finished fermenting caused the geysers on the other batch. What yeast did you use? The yeast may have dropped out of suspension before it had totally finished. Bottling would have resuspended some and possibly kicked off more fermentation in the bottles than was intended.

    I have a red ale that I brew regularly that has excellent head retention. Last year I made the mistake of priming a batch of that to 2.6 volumes. Every pint poured as half foam that didn't dissipate. You had to spoon it off the top. Great taste though. Won't ever do that again! I have a batch of that red on hand now carbed to 2 volumes and its perfect.
     
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  14. Bell_Rock_Brewery

    Bell_Rock_Brewery New Member

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    - I used WhiteLabs English Ale Blend WLP085. The only thing I didn't do for my recipe is that it called for champagne yeast for finishing but I couldn't get hold of any. Not sure if that would have made a difference or not.
     
  15. NathanUK

    NathanUK New Member

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    I use bleach regularly, especially after using Saison strains. That Diastaticus found in saison yeasts has to go and bleach is very good at that.
     
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