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Barleywine bottled too low carbonation? Help please

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by velosuds, Dec 6, 2012.

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  1. velosuds

    velosuds Defender (617) Mar 14, 2009 Oregon

    I have, perhaps, a similar problem to what is indicated in this thread: http://beeradvocate.com/community/threads/no-carbonation-possible-solutions.51944/#post-674140, but please bear with me.

    Here is my dilemma:

    Context: been homebrewing, extract based, for just over two years. About 30 batches now. Brewed 4 higher gravity beers (>8% ABV) before brewing my first American Barley Wine 9/21/2012. Bottled 10/19/2012 after a secondary fermentation. OG 1.103 with FG of 1.024. Very pleased. Nearly 10.5% ABV.

    I followed Palmer's How to Brew (2006 print edition) advice for priming a barleywine at 1/2 cup in 1 pint of water (vs. 3/4 cup for all other brews I have done) for 5 gal of beer. Use the same methodology every time. Only difference this time has been in the quantity of priming sugar. I am thinking I should have used 3/4 c. priming sugar. Taste is very good. Just too flat.

    Have had great results following Palmer, but this beer seems flat and under-carbonated after nearly 7 weeks conditioning. 3 weeks indoors at 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit; otherwise 50-55 degrees in garage.

    I realize barleywines are typically less carbonated than other styles, but I am getting very little head even with a vigorous pour. This too is very uncharacteristic for my previous brews.

    Can I fix this? What are your recommendations?

    Thanks much,

    Steve Wright
  2. NHLakesBrewer

    NHLakesBrewer Initiate (0) Oct 6, 2008 New Hampshire

    More time and temp. I do not know why but the bigger the beer the longer it has taken to bottle condition for me. I would warm it up and leave it for a few months. Then try one and see, I'll bet you'll enjoy it more.
  3. DNuggs

    DNuggs Aspirant (281) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Agree with above...all of my bigger beers have taken 6 weeks or more to carb up. A big beer like a barleywine will also benefit from sitting and conditioning for a longer period of time.
  4. OddNotion

    OddNotion Devotee (478) Nov 1, 2009 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    The time at 50-55 degrees in the garage certainly do not help speed up the carbing process, if they are currently outside you may want to consider moving them inside for a while. Are the beers completely flat or is there at least a little bit of carbonation?
  5. premierpro

    premierpro Aspirant (277) Mar 21, 2009 Michigan

    I use 3/4 cup to carb my bottle condition beers. I would prefer a little over carb then under carb. With a Barley Wine I'll pour it in a glass and let it warm up a little and the carb level is where I want it.
  6. ShawDeuce22

    ShawDeuce22 Initiate (184) Mar 17, 2009 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    I had that same problem a few years ago when I brewed my first barleywine. I saved some bottles "just to see what happens" and was surprised to find that even after 2 years the beer still wasnt carbed up.

    Fast Forward to now. I was listening to a podcast (BN Jamil Show) and he mentioned that you can pitch some yeast into the bottling bucket to get it to carbonate (1/2 of a Whte Labs vial per 5gal batch). With those higher ABV beers the yeast is pretty much spent after doing all that work to get the ABV to where it is. So, you will need more healthy yeast to eat those sugars that you are putting in the bottles.

    This also happened to me last year when I brewed my XMAS ale. I "accidentlly" brewed a 5 gallon batch with the amount of ingredients for a 6 gallon batch. I think the OG was 1.109 and it finished at 1.025 (don't remember exact numbers). I did the same thing I was doing...make a simple syrup out of water and priming sugar, mix in the bottling bucket, bottle, cap, wait. NOTHING! No carbonation at all just a syrupy mess. I had some yeast that I had just washed from a batch of Pale Ale, swirled that up and stuck a fork in it and dripped 3 or 4 drops into each 12oz bottle. BOOM! Carbed that bitch up in a few weeks at room temp.
  7. reverseapachemaster

    reverseapachemaster Aspirant (244) Sep 21, 2012 Texas
    Beer Trader

    That doesn't make any sense to put less priming sugar in a beer unless you know it has unfermented, but still fermentable, sugars in the beer but if that's the case you shouldn't bottle until the beer stable.

    Not enough sugar = not enough carbonation. This is not one of those times when time or warmer temperatures will make your beer more carbonated. Higher ABV beers take longer to carb because you've created a stressful environment and you end up not having a lot of healthy yeast available to ferment the priming sugars. You can also have problems if you age the beer for a while but after a month in the fermentor that's not your issue.
  8. MLucky

    MLucky Aspirant (286) Jul 31, 2010 California

    My best guess is that the beer wasn’t done bottle conditioning when it was moved to the garage, and the low temp put the yeast to sleep, which is making an already long process longer. If it was my beer, I’d move the bottles someplace warner, agitate ‘em a little, and check back in 2-3 weeks.
    Just btw, I’m bottle conditioning a weizenbock that’s probably about 9%, and it took 4 weeks to get up to an acceptable level. I was kind of worried after two weeks, wondering if I needed to try to add some carb drops or what. But slowly but surely, the yeasties did their work. I’m thinking your beer will be OK if you just give ‘em a little nudge.
  9. mklinger

    mklinger Zealot (518) Feb 20, 2009 North Carolina

    My personal guess is that this doesn't have anything to do with the amount of priming sugar. Instead, I'm guessing your yeast are tired and have gone dormant because of the extremely high amount of sugar they already fermented & the high alcohol environment that they now are in. My last barleywine was 10.9% abv. To get it to carbonate, I got a small yeast starter going & put some of that yeast in my bottling bucket with the priming sugar. Those yeast were active & hungry and munched away on the sugars giving me nice carbonation.

    I've heard of folks opening bottles & adding a couple pieces of dry yeast, but I don't know that this would work b/c dry yeast won't rehydrate well in a high alcohol environment. Next time, add some fresh yeast & it'll go better, I think.
  10. mychalg9

    mychalg9 Champion (848) Apr 8, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Invest in some brewing software, it will tell you exactly how much sugar to prime with. I dont think "1/2 cup sugar in a pint of water" is going to be good enough for every beer you make. In general it might be fine, but to really dial it in correctly, the brewing software really helps. It adjusts per style too. I use beersmith but there are others that I am sure are just as good.
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