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Bottle Conditioning: Upper Limit Temp

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by alysmith4, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. A batch of NB's Petite Saison I made has been in the bottle for over three weeks now, and won't seem to carbonate. (I slightly underpitched the yeast, and then left it in the fermentor a few weeks longer than I should have - both probably contributing to the issue.)

    The pantry in which the bottles are stored is around 65*, which I think might be too low, so I was thinking about putting a space heater in there. I'm not sure how hard it'll be to regulate the temp, so I wanted to know if it gets too hot - what the upper limit might be. I could aim to stay under that at least.

    Also, if anyone has other ideas on how to get this to carb up, please let me know! I already tried rousing the yeast, and laying the bottles on their side and turning them every couple of days. I don't think either worked very well, so increasing the temp was my next idea (before re-pitching or adding more sugar).

    One more thing: the beer isn't very sweet, and is actually on the sour side. I'm not sure if this is intentional, or if there's something else wrong with it.
  2. VikeMan

    VikeMan Champion (750) Pennsylvania Jul 12, 2009

    I'd get the bottles up to about 70-72F.
    alysmith4 likes this.
  3. pweis909

    pweis909 Advocate (715) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005

    There's no harm in taking it up to 75, or possibly even higher. What yeast did you use? WY3724 and WLP565 tolerate high temps (85+) and have some notoriety for slowing down at low temps. Warming it up 10 degrees should double the rate of carbonate (that's a really coarse approximation). At the bottling stage, you are unlikely to develop sufficient amounts of off-flavors from high temperature fermentations, so many people will bottle at higher temp to speed things along.

    You sourness issue is troubling. I'm not sure what that could be about. Some of my early beers had an acetaldehyde presence (green apple) but this usually faded with yeast activity in the bottle. It is symptomatic of packaging before the yeast have completed their business. Could this be your sourness? If yeast are not active in the bottles, then nothing is getting cleaned up. If the sourness is due to something else, I'm at a loss.

    Raising the temp is the next course of action I would follow.
    alysmith4 likes this.
  4. Yes, the sourness is green appley. I left the batch in the fermentor for five weeks, so I don't think it's an issue of packaging before completion. But maybe something to do with the yeast not being active in the bottles? Idk.

    Oh and I used WY3711.
  5. pweis909

    pweis909 Advocate (715) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005

    WYeast 3711 is notorious for not stalling and taking fermentations to completion and beyond. Was the beer in the primary fermenter for 5 weeks? That seems like more than enough time for this yeast to complete a fermentation. My acetaldhyde experiences occured when bottled at the 7-14 day mark.

    Transferring from primary to secondary can separate beer from yeast too soon, with the transferred beer having a low yeast count that is slow to finish cleaning up after itself. But within 5 weeks, plus bottling time, I'd expect clean-up to have happened.

    As said earlier, the next step should be the temperature and a bit of patience. This is the zero cost, zero labor approach.

    After that, maybe rehydrate dry yeast, then add with a dropper to each bottle? However, I might write off the beer before I did this, or else resign myself to acquiring a taste for flat, cidery beer.
    alysmith4 likes this.
  6. Yes, it was in the primary for five weeks (I just didn't call it a primary because I didn't use a secondary ;)). I transferred it to a bottling bucket, added sugar (actually, the other way around), and then bottled. There is plenty of sediment in each bottle, I just hope it's alive and well.
  7. "Added sugar". Obviously you boiled the sugar in water first........
    alysmith4 likes this.
  8. Yes, even I'm not that much of an idiot! :)
  9. Another question: the pantry also doubles as my "cellar." Should I move those beers out while I'm raising the temp in there up to 75*? Not sure how long at a higher temp it would take to "ruin" some of those beers..
  10. My "project" seems to be going well


    but I'm concerned about the temp getting too high. Once when I went in there, it was like 90 degrees! I know the beer didn't get up to that temp (it was only for a few mins), but are the temp fluctuations damaging?
  11. pweis909

    pweis909 Advocate (715) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005

    90 is a little high. Maybe back the heater off (distance-wise) or dial it down a notch? Have you cracked a beer to evaluated carbonation gain?
    alysmith4 likes this.
  12. No, haven't cracked one yet, as I just dug the heater out of storage this morning. Will keep you posted!
  13. I know it's not helpful now, but from now on, A few days before bottling add a small amount (1/8 or less) of a pack of rehydrated dried yeast to the fermentor. That way you have some back up yeast to help the old tired yeast do your carbonating.
    alysmith4 likes this.
  14. So I'm imagining you put your sugar priming mixture into your bottling bucket, then racked your beer into the bucket, then bottled. Did you stir the beer once all was in the bottling bucket to help evenly distribute the sugar? I once decided to skip the stirring with a sanitized spoon after racking the beer onto my priming mix, and I ended up with about 7 carbed bottles, and 40 that wouldn't (and never did) carbonate. This was the only thing in my process that wasn't the norm for that particular batch, so it's the only thing I could think to blame.

    Edit- I have no scientific reasoning behind why I think stirring is beneficial.
    alysmith4 likes this.
  15. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Advocate (595) Colorado Jan 20, 2012

    I had no problems with carbing until I started stirring. Lol. Then I had one blow, a couple flat, and the rest were fine. Oh well.
    alysmith4 likes this.
  16. Well you and I are really a big help!!!
    alysmith4 likes this.
  17. No, I didn't stir. When racking, the beer going in was "swirling" from the bottom of the bucket up, so I figured it was getting all mixed in. Perhaps not. All I know is that I was afraid of aerating the beer, because that was my problem last time :rolleyes:
  18. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Advocate (595) Colorado Jan 20, 2012

    Let's start a homebrewing radio show!
    psnydez86 and alysmith4 like this.
  19. pweis909

    pweis909 Advocate (715) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005

    I add sugar during the fill, figuring that it will get diluted and diffuse as it fills. When it's full, I give it a gentle stir, maybe 5 swirly motions at most, wait 10 minutes to allow continued mixing of sugar (might be unnecessary at this point, but what's an extra 10 minutes on bottling day?), then proceed to bottle.

    I suspect the most important change I ever made to my bottling proceedure was to use a priming calculator like that at tastybrew.com to calculate the mass of sugar I wanted to use. Weighing out sugar to yield specific (estimated) carbonation levels gave me better results than the 3/4 c corn sugar recommendation that persisted in many homebrew recipes for years.

    Also, I have found that measured amounts of table sugar work just fine. I haven't used corn sugar for many years. There's nothing wrong with it as far as priming is concerned, but I can only find it at homebrew shops, where specialty shop markup makes it, pound for pound, more costly than table sugar.
    alysmith4 and psnydez86 like this.
  20. “No, I didn't stir.” I am 99.99% sure that is your problem with your carbonation. I would recommend that you try the warmer temperature approach for a while to see if that will fix your issue. If the warm environment doesn’t work, and you are still inclined to salvage your batch, you will need to add a small amount of sugar (e.g., dissolve sugar in water and add a few drops of sugar water to each bottle) to each bottle and recap the bottles.

    As pweis909 made mention, the proper procedure is to gently stir (without splashing) the beer in the bottling bucket to ensure proper mixing of the sugar into the beer; counting on the “swirling” to adequately mix the sugar is a bad idea. I use my racking cane as my stirrer and I personally stir more than 5 times but 5 times is probably sufficient.

    alysmith4 and psnydez86 like this.
  21. pweis909

    pweis909 Advocate (715) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005

    I use a long handled spoon (sanitized, of course!); the business end is about 8x wider than a racking cane, so, I probably can accomplish greater mixing per swirly motion than a cane.
    alysmith4 likes this.
  22. Yup, you have a bigger 'stick'! You da man!!

    pweis909 likes this.
  23. For what it's worth, a local brewery claims to bottle condition in a heated room at 85 deg. F.

    As for mixing in the sugar, I always add my boiled and dissolved sugar/water priming mixture to the bottling bucket then rack "on top" of it so that the beer coming out of my transfer hose forms a gently whirlpool. I don't ever stir the priming mixture in. I've done this for years and never had an issue with uneven/absent carbonation.
    alysmith4 likes this.
  24. Yeah, that's exactly what I did. Didn't think more stirring was necessary, but maybe so.
  25. I have only not stirred once. For that batch I obtained uneven carbonation. I have stirred ever since.

    cavedave and alysmith4 like this.
  26. Success! We have carbonation!! It dissipated quite a bit before I had time to snap a pic, but it's there :):


    I guess it musta just been a temp issue. A big thanks to everyone for all the help!

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