Helles not carbing - options?

Discussion in 'General Beer Brewing Discussion' started by matt76, Dec 8, 2019.

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  1. Dec 8, 2019 #1

    matt76

    matt76

    matt76

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    I bottled my Munich Helles a few weeks ago (on 10th Nov so about 4 weeks ago) and tried a couple over the weekend.

    Flavours are all good except for a residual sweetness from the remaining priming sugar that's not turned to alcohol.

    This seems to be a recurring theme with my lagers, whereas my ales are fine (actually the Czech pilsner I did at the start of the year carbed up fine)

    I leave the bottles for 4 weeks at room temp, approx. 19-20degC to carb & condition. In this case the Helles is 4.7% ABV so not mega strong or anything.

    I batch prime but don't add any extra yeast at bottling. There's a little yeast sediment in the bottles but I wonder if the yeast is a bit tired? I did cold crash this batch but so what - I sometimes cold crash my ales and they carb up fine.

    These are my options as I see it - but I would be interested to know other people's opinions:
    1. Do nothing. Give it a lot longer to carb up.
    2. What I actually did was gently shake the bottles to mix up the yeast sediment - but I worry the yeast will have gone dormant.
    3. Put them somewhere warmer, e.g. airing cupboard.
    4. Pop the caps and add some fresh healthy yeast.
    5. A mixture of all of the above!
    6. Doesn't help me now, but next time I might be inclined to add some bottling yeast to see if that makes a difference (I know some say it's not needed but I seem to be struggling)

    Thanks in advance,

    Matt
     
  2. Dec 8, 2019 #2

    BeerCat

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    I think you nailed it with bottling yeast. I had loads of batches do that before I started kegging. The yeast would get stuck around sides of the bottles.
     
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  3. Dec 9, 2019 #3

    terrym

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    @matt76
    Option 5. Keep a note of what you have done to each batch of bottles, then when it's finally sorted one way or another you will be able to form an opinion of what worked and what didn't so that you get it right for your next and subsequent lagers.
     
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  4. Dec 9, 2019 #4

    fury_tea

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    I'm in the exact same boat with a lager I bottled in November. It tastes great, it's clear as glass but it's carbonated to the level of an English bitter after 3 weeks at 20c then a week in the garage. I've got a beer fermenting in my fridge at 22c so I've stuck the rest of my bottles in there for a week in the hopes that it wakes up the yeast in there. I'd be wary of opening the bottles in case of infection/oxidisation though.

    The last lager I did (a pilsner/kolsch) I added half a spare pack of ale yeast that I had knocking around, conditioned at 20c and it mostly carbed in a week and was perfect in 2.
     
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  5. Dec 9, 2019 #5

    terrym

    terrym

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    Why?
    As far as oxidation is concerned I suggest you have more chance of oxidising you beer from the air that was in the bottle and finally headspace when you intially filled the bottle. Merely opening a bottle is hardly likely to introduce oxygen in significant quantities. The flow is likely to be out rather than in.
    And why should opening a bottle be any more risky (from the aspect of introducing an infection) compared to the time when the bottle was initially filled. I suggest much less.
    I accept that there is always a tiny risk of oxidation and infection when brewing beer but home brewing need not be completely risk averse, just undertaken with a proportionate assessment of what you are doing and what you want to achieve.
     
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  6. Dec 9, 2019 #6

    fury_tea

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    I just said I'd be wary. If a week at 22c doesn't work I may resort to that but it would definitely be a last resort for me, and TBH I might just chalk it up to experience and leave it undercarbed. If you're happy opening and resealing your bottles that's cool but for me it's not something I'm not too comfortable with for the reasons stated.

    I've just jumped on the keg wagon anyway so hoping bottling will soon be a thing of the past for me anyway.
     
  7. Dec 14, 2019 #7

    fury_tea

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    5 days at 22c seems to have done the trick. It's pretty nicely carbed now. A few more days may have done it even more good but I need to turn my fridge down to cold crash the other beer in there.
    I think it might've just needed a bit of a boost to get going again..
     
  8. Dec 14, 2019 #8

    PerthRod

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    When I bottle beer I always put some in plastic bottles. I can then check the progress of secondary fermentation by feeling how firm the bottles are.
     
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  9. Dec 23, 2019 #9

    matt76

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    Little bit of an update on this... Thanks again for the advice and suggestions...

    It took me a few days to get around to actually doing anything about this but i eventually had a bit of a sort out...

    I had 28 x 330ml bottles remaining, of these:
    - 8 were shaken gently to rouse the yeast again and left to carry on carbonating normally in a crate, at around 17degC according to the thermometer;
    - 8 were put in the airing cupboard (warm, at least 25degC I think though I never noted the temperature)
    - I popped the caps on 8 of them and added a tiny pinch of US-05 before re-capping them;
    - And the final 4 went in the fridge for drinking.

    After a week i put a few in the fridge and tried a couple last night.....

    - The ones that had gone straight in the fridge tasted good - bready, tiny hint of lemon but still that lingering sweetness and carbonated like a bitter.

    - One with US-05 added was similar, I didn't really notice any additional carbonation or difference in flavour. However, I wonder if that's partly down to having removed the caps to begin with and releasing some of the pressure.

    - And one from the airing cupboard... Oh yeah, there were go! athumb.. Much better carbonation! Noticeably fizzier on the tongue and I didn't detect any off flavours either. Only thing is, the fizz kinda masks some of the bready malty character! There's just no pleasing some people! :laugh8:

    So what would i do differently next time? Well I'd be inclined to add some extra yeast at bottling, just to see for sure as it certainly doesn't seem to hurt. But it seems maybe the key is simply to leave the bottles somewhere a bit warmer to carb up.

    Cheers,

    Matt
     
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