Undercarbonated St Peter's Honey Porter

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ChrisT

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In summary, my first beer kit for 30(ish) years, was hoping to have a "Winter Warmer" for Xmas. So everything went according to instructions, fermentation took 6 days at 20C, FG was around 1010 and stable. Bottled straight into 500ml PET bottles and 2 carbonation drops added per bottle. Left for 2 weeks warm and then moved somewhere (slightly) cooler for another week.

So what's happening now? All the bottles give way when squeezed, so I thought I'd try one. A slight "fftt" on opening rather than the expected "pppssssttttt", some bubbles rising to the surfface in the bottle. When poured, almost no bubles and no head at all. Taste is as I'd expected, maybe a little sweet, but it has no life. I've opened another two bottles and added another two carbonation drops putting the top back on before the expected eruption, these have been left for a week warm but feel no different.

So, is there anything I can do to improve this? I'll probably drink this myself over the coming months, but not something I feel I can share.


Chris
 
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Having recently started using PET bottles I have noticed that they seem to need a bit of extra 'thrutch' to fully tighten them and make a seal. You might try giving your remaining stock an extra twist - it can't do say harm. It might just be me getting use to them after years of using crown caps or swing tops. I hoofed out my motley collection of old beer bottles which were only serving to take up space in the garage (not ideal) and to annoy SWMBO (defiantly not ideal) though I did keep my swing tops which I plan on filling next with a porter kit.
 
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Did you squeeze your bottles before capping? I use PET bottles and once they're filled, I squeeze so that the beer comes to the top of the bottle and then screw the cap on tightly. This expels any oxygen from the bottle (which can only be a good thing). It leaves the bottle mishapen, but after a few days at the correct temparture, they will be back to normal shape which gives you instant confirmation that carbonation has taken place. The bottles also feel 'tight'.

Two carbonation drops in a 500ml bottle should be enough to carbonate any beer so clearly something has gone wrong. If you didn't squeeze them before, I would take the caps off and squeeze. You'll know if the caps are on properly as the bottle will remain out of shape - make sure the caps are on tightly. Give them another couple of weeks in the warm and see if the bottles change shape. You could add another drop to each bottle if you like (I wouldn't add two personally).

Good luck!
 

ChrisT

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I'm now trying to find way to use "ullage" in conversation....

Back to my problem... I've made sure as best I can that the tops are on firmly, I held each bottle in a towel (dry hands) to grip the base and top firmly, firm twist until "scrunch" and a then a bit more until cap stopped. All of my bottles are definitely NOT tight, so can I add more carbonation drops (avoiding volcanic activity) and try again, this time reducing the ullage :hat:

Back to glass bottles and crown caps after this I think.
 

ChrisT

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Just to clarify, when I said not tight, I meant, when squeezed there was still give in the bottles, the caps are all definitley on tight!
 

trummy

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This does not make sense, if they are 500ml then 2 drops should more than suffice. How about transferring the contents of two PETs into glass bottles.
In one add carb drops, in the other an equivalent amount of priming sugar.
If bottle one carbs up then your PET is porous (never known it)
If bottle two carbs up your drops are no good. (never used them)
When you have a conclusion repeat to make sure
If it stays flat you have killed the yeast - did you clean the bottles before use.

Let us know the result!
 
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ChrisT

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@trummy First time I've used carbonation drops, but as I said my first beer for a LONG time.... Also always used glass bottles, but as I didn't have enough glass I bought some PETs and carbonation drops were not around in the dim and distant past. Bottles were new and I sanitised and sterilised them thoroughly. The bottles have definitley pressurised just not enough. With two bottles I've added an extra two carbonation drops and waiting to see what happens, after a week they feel the same as the others, I'll open them in a few weeks to see what they're like.
 

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I made this kit a while back, force carbonated it in a Corny keg. It was very odd, you could coax out a bit of a head on it when pouring but it disappeared pretty much instantly. The beer was clearly carbonated as it had a slight fizz and bubbles rising but absolutely zero head retention. I do have a few bottles of it somewhere as I always put the difference between the kit length and the 19 litres I can get in the keg into bottles. They were primed with sugar. Must try one out a some point to see if it's the same.

Not a kit I'd be doing again anyway, found the honey flavour to be overpowering, slightly artificial and bordering on unpleasant. Still drank it like but it wasn't the greatest even when putting the head retention issues aside.
 

ChrisT

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So I've left this for another couple of weeks and the situation has definitely improved! Could it be that I let it too long before bottling and there wasn't much yeast in each bottle so it took a bit longer?

The bottles are now firm to the squeeze and a good "ppssssttt" when opened, taste is also less sweet. The two bottles I added extra carbonation drops to have had to have some pressure relieved and left to resettle!

So I was either a bit slow in bottling or quick in trying to drink?
 
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The rate of carbonation is dependent on temperature. Maybe what you thought was “warm” wasn’t really warm enough for them to carbonate in two weeks?

Something around 24C will give you faster carbonation but once carbonated put them somewhere cold (eg 12C or below) for storage because higher temperatures speed up the rate of oxidation.
 

Graz

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I made this kit a while back, force carbonated it in a Corny keg. It was very odd, you could coax out a bit of a head on it when pouring but it disappeared pretty much instantly. The beer was clearly carbonated as it had a slight fizz and bubbles rising but absolutely zero head retention. I do have a few bottles of it somewhere as I always put the difference between the kit length and the 19 litres I can get in the keg into bottles. They were primed with sugar. Must try one out a some point to see if it's the same.

Not a kit I'd be doing again anyway, found the honey flavour to be overpowering, slightly artificial and bordering on unpleasant. Still drank it like but it wasn't the greatest even when putting the head retention issues aside.
I tried one of the bottles of this I had last weekend, good psst on opening, poured with a decent head but not too lively, the head stayed and laced nicely down the glass as I drank it. Most odd that it's so different from when it was kegged. Also mellowed a bit though I'm still not a fan.
 

ChrisT

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I don't think I'll be making it again, I'll look around for reviews on winter warmer/porter kits for the new year (that's for the depths of winter rather than the party!).

It was a good refresher on beer making on the whole though!
 
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I don't think I'll be making it again, I'll look around for reviews on winter warmer/porter kits for the new year (that's for the depths of winter rather than the party!).

It was a good refresher on beer making on the whole though!

If you haven't seen it already, you might want to watch this Partridge Brothers review on the Youngs American Mocha Porter.

 

ChrisT

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Thanks @GhostShip for the link. I think I'll be working my way through the reviews! Lots to look at.

Interesting, when I was looking around for a kit to complete for the Winter I didn't do as much research as maybe I should have. I did see the AMP but when I decided to order something I couldn't find one in stock. From the review it sounds like it's something I should try.
 

ChrisT

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Well! I opened two bottles last night and what a difference! It was like a different beer completely. Well carbonated (lots of small bubbles), good head and a hint of honey.

My takeaway from this is patience, don't believe the instructions to leave to carbonate for 2 weeks, leave it for at least 4 in a cool place. Going to be a good Christmas after all :beer1:
 

Bill W

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Apropos of absolutely nothing, the space at the top of a bottle or container with liquid in is called the 'ullage'.
Interesting, and completely different to my understanding of "ullage". I've always called the waste beer that gets tipped out of the drip trays "ullage", having been taught that term by a publican I used to do some bar shifts for as a youngster. He was a tight ba--ard, and used to have the staff put all the ullage in a bucket so he could see how much we had wasted. Needless to say, I didn't stick that part-time job for long.

Back on topic, I have a stout which is resolutely refusing to make a head but tastes fine, but flat. I only used a half teaspoon of sugar per 500ml bottle, which is what I'd read is correct for stouts. I;m hoping mine will also come good if left longer. Otherwise, the missus may be tasked with making lots of steak and ale pies.
 

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I made this kit a while back, force carbonated it in a Corny keg. It was very odd, you could coax out a bit of a head on it when pouring but it disappeared pretty much instantly. The beer was clearly carbonated as it had a slight fizz and bubbles rising but absolutely zero head retention. I do have a few bottles of it somewhere as I always put the difference between the kit length and the 19 litres I can get in the keg into bottles. They were primed with sugar. Must try one out a some point to see if it's the same.

Not a kit I'd be doing again anyway, found the honey flavour to be overpowering, slightly artificial and bordering on unpleasant. Still drank it like but it wasn't the greatest even when putting the head retention issues aside.
I got the same when i did mine, I just passed it over as a DMS infection.
 

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