Author Topic: Big Beer Carbonation...  (Read 8943 times)

Offline bobo1898

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Big Beer Carbonation...
« on: March 25, 2016, 09:47:42 AM »
I understand the general consensus is that big beers take longer to carbonate. But is this still the case when you pitch fresh yeast at bottling time?

I brewed a belgian quad back in the beginning of December and bottled it around two weeks ago. I pitched fresh yeast and primed for 3 volumes of co2. My ABV is 12% and I'm not even close to carbonation. When I opened the first bottle there wasn't even a "psh" sound.

I'm not super concerned because I'm willing to wait another 3 months. But when you hear that commercial Belgian breweries are bottle conditioning their quads for 12 days before selling them, you get excited to try one after two weeks. I assumed that in pitching fresh yeast with the sugar that it'd be happy to eat it all up right away. Is it the 12% that is slowing the fresh yeast down? I don't plan on opening up another one until May or June, but I still want to understand this. While the flat quad was delicious, I'd rather have not opened it until it was fully carbed.

I'm conditioning at 75 degrees. My FG was 1.004. My bottling yeast was 3787.
PRIMARY
SECONDARY
ON DECK
   Wild Ale on Blackberries w/ Champagne yeast
   BA Sour Kolsch w/ Cherries
   Belgian Quad
SERVED/STILL ENJOYING
   Peach Cider
   Patersbier
   Wild Ale with Champagne yeast
   BA Espresso Milk Stout
   BA RIS
   BA RIS w/ bannanas, cinammon, almonds
   BA Gldn Strong

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: Big Beer Carbonation...
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2016, 12:46:00 PM »
Quote
Is it the 12% that is slowing the fresh yeast down?

Have you looked up the alcohol tolerance of the yeast you used for carbonating? 12% is pretty high. It could be too much for the yeast. My understanding is that many of these breweries prime with a different strain than they ferment with. The one they ferment with gives the desired flavor, while the other strain is able to handle the alcohol and carbonate the beer.
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Offline Scott Ickes

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Re: Big Beer Carbonation...
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2016, 12:50:11 PM »
The alcohol threshold for Wyeast 3787 is 11-12% or slightly higher.  You're right at the yeasts threshold for alcohol.  It will probably carbonate, if given if enough time.  The ABV is what is holding back the yeast.  The yeast is stressed and sluggish.

If it doesn't carbonate, then you'll have to drink it flat.  I had a 16.5% Tootsie Roll Stout that took almost a year and a half to eventually carbonate.

Give it time.  As with everything else in brewing, patience usually pays off.
Kegs:
 Red IPA
 ESB
 Saison Solera
 Dubel (Aged in Malbec Wine Barrel
Aging:
 80 Shilling (In bourbon barrel)
Bottled
 Peppermint Patty Stout
 Wee Heavy

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Offline bobo1898

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Re: Big Beer Carbonation...
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2016, 12:53:20 PM »
The alcohol threshold for Wyeast 3787 is 11-12% or slightly higher.  You're right at the yeasts threshold for alcohol.

Was just going to quote this. So even with fresh yeast, the high ABV makes it stressed?

I had a 16.5% Tootsie Roll Stout that took almost a year and a half to eventually carbonate.

Did you pitch fresh yeast to this?
PRIMARY
SECONDARY
ON DECK
   Wild Ale on Blackberries w/ Champagne yeast
   BA Sour Kolsch w/ Cherries
   Belgian Quad
SERVED/STILL ENJOYING
   Peach Cider
   Patersbier
   Wild Ale with Champagne yeast
   BA Espresso Milk Stout
   BA RIS
   BA RIS w/ bannanas, cinammon, almonds
   BA Gldn Strong

Offline Scott Ickes

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Re: Big Beer Carbonation...
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2016, 01:04:43 PM »
The alcohol threshold for Wyeast 3787 is 11-12% or slightly higher.  You're right at the yeasts threshold for alcohol.

Was just going to quote this. So even with fresh yeast, the high ABV makes it stressed?

I had a 16.5% Tootsie Roll Stout that took almost a year and a half to eventually carbonate.

Did you pitch fresh yeast to this?

To your first question, yes.  You had plenty of yeast in the beer to ferment it.  Pitching the exact same yeast does not improve it's ability to condition the beer.  The only time you should repitch the same yeast, is when you've had the beer conditioning for a long time and are concerned that most of it will have dropped out of the beer (flocculated) during the long aging process.  An example would be if you had a beer that you put cacao nibs and vanilla in the secondary and then later added some oak.  Maybe the beer was in secondary for 3 months or so, and you just wanted to make sure their was enough yeast to do the job efficiently.

To answer your second question, I used champagne yeast at bottling.  It wasn't the right choice.  If I ever make that beer again, I'll bottle with WLP099.  This is a Super High Gravity yeast that can handle up to 25% ABV.  I would probably never use WLP099 for primary though.  I'd use the yeast that would create the flavor profiles I was after and let it go until it was surely at the yeasts ABV breaking point.  Then I would pitch the WLP099, and let it go another month or so, to make sure it finishes the job that the primary yeast started.  When you pitch WLP099 late in the fermentation process, you have to give it time.  It might consume more sugars that the primary yeast didn't get to, because of the stress caused by the high ABV.  If you bottle too soon after pitching WLP099, you risk creating bottle bombs.  So be patient.
Kegs:
 Red IPA
 ESB
 Saison Solera
 Dubel (Aged in Malbec Wine Barrel
Aging:
 80 Shilling (In bourbon barrel)
Bottled
 Peppermint Patty Stout
 Wee Heavy

Scott Ickes
https://creativebrewing.wordpress.com

Offline bobo1898

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Re: Big Beer Carbonation...
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2016, 02:05:55 PM »
To your first question, yes.  You had plenty of yeast in the beer to ferment it.  Pitching the exact same yeast does not improve it's ability to condition the beer.  The only time you should repitch the same yeast, is when you've had the beer conditioning for a long time and are concerned that most of it will have dropped out of the beer (flocculated) during the long aging process.

Interesting. Thanks for the responses guys. 3787 wasn't my primary strain. It was whatever is in a St. Bernardus Pater 6 (which they may or may not bottle with a lager yeast). Now I did let this sit for 60 days at 45-50 degrees before warming up to bottling temps and found it dropped two points after primary. I've heard of people suggesting to bottle with champagne yeast but I'd be concerned with it maybe changing the mouthfeel a little.

I will definitely keep WLP099 in mind in the future. Looks like Wyeast doesn't have a comparable one. Until then, I'll be waiting until summer to try the quad. And if it isn't ready, then I guess I'll be waiting longer.
PRIMARY
SECONDARY
ON DECK
   Wild Ale on Blackberries w/ Champagne yeast
   BA Sour Kolsch w/ Cherries
   Belgian Quad
SERVED/STILL ENJOYING
   Peach Cider
   Patersbier
   Wild Ale with Champagne yeast
   BA Espresso Milk Stout
   BA RIS
   BA RIS w/ bannanas, cinammon, almonds
   BA Gldn Strong

Offline evilgiraffe

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Re: Big Beer Carbonation...
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2016, 01:32:15 AM »
I've got a tripel that I brewed on Aug 29 last year, bottled three weeks later and it still isn't carbonated right. I've been opening one roughly every 2-3 weeks only to find that nothing's changed. It's about 11% and flat as a pancake.

I can't help you with the carbonation but as for drinking flat beer.....I mix mine 50/50 with a light pils to make it more drinkable. I just can't afford the space all these bottles take up in my little apartment with wife and kid, so I've decided that I'm drinking them as they are and that I've learned my lesson and won't brew any more big beers that I'm gonna have to wait on until my living accommodations increase in size.

Offline twhitaker

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Re: Big Beer Carbonation...
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2016, 06:47:37 AM »
Big beer such as quad are much heavier beers than regular and even though your final gravity is 1.004, there are much more other compounds dissolved in your beer that aren't fermentable sugar. So your beer is, for lack of a better word, more syrupy. Heavier syrupy beers will take two to three more times the co2 to carbonate;  even with kegging they soak up the co2 for weeks until they finally become carbonated. You need to increase the amount of priming sugar to compensate. That is why everyone is waiting years for their heavy beer to carbonate not the yeast issue. I make wine and 12% ABV is acheived easily in 3 weeks. I recently doubled the prime sugar for a few bottles and that helped my latest quad carbonate in 3 weeks. I also bottle a few points before final gravity, but I can monitor the pressure and adjust if necessary by using plastic homebrew poly bottles. You can guage pressure build-up by feel. If you are sticklers for glass, you need a guage to install on one sample bottle to monitor the pressure. Trial and error will lead you in the right direction by monitoring the pressure. Also, I make sure to swirl the original yeast sediment and get some in each bottle, whereas for kegging I use clear sediment free beer. I have posted this info before but seems people are hung up on the yeast issue. If it takes longer than 3 weeks there simply isn't enough sugar in there to carbonate it. Also using a monastery high alcohol tolerant belgian yeast designed for trippels and quads in the first place (WLP 500) eliminates any guessing about yeast. CHEERS
On tap: 1/2keg cream ale with corn grits
             1/4 keg-  Trappist Quad Ale w/ oak
Day 10 primary: West Coast I.P.A. with homegrown columbus hops 46 liters

Offline bobo1898

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Re: Big Beer Carbonation...
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2016, 06:56:55 AM »
Thanks for the big response!

Heavier syrupy beers will take two to three more times the co2 to carbonate;  even with kegging they soak up the co2 for weeks until they finally become carbonated. You need to increase the amount of priming sugar to compensate.

I primed for 3.0 volumes of co2. So you suggest that 4.5 or 5.0 volumes of co2 is safe? I assume you're using Belgian bottles and not standards. I don't believe standards can hold that pressure over time, right? What are you priming at on average for beers like this?

I did bottle with Belgians but 5.0 volumes of co2 was an intimidating number.

PRIMARY
SECONDARY
ON DECK
   Wild Ale on Blackberries w/ Champagne yeast
   BA Sour Kolsch w/ Cherries
   Belgian Quad
SERVED/STILL ENJOYING
   Peach Cider
   Patersbier
   Wild Ale with Champagne yeast
   BA Espresso Milk Stout
   BA RIS
   BA RIS w/ bannanas, cinammon, almonds
   BA Gldn Strong

Offline twhitaker

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Re: Big Beer Carbonation...
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2016, 01:32:12 PM »
I'm not sure of the science regarding volumes of co2 in different viscosity liquids, but in my experience it takes more c02 to get the same carbonation level with heavy beers- my conclusion. I am not aiming higher than 2.5 volumes, it just takes at least double the sugar to get there.
**# I did mention I use poly (green or brown plastic) beer bottles made for homebrew. **#  A simple squeeze tells you the good news if they are firm. If they offer no resistance to a squeeze after 2 to 3 weeks, simply unscrew plastic cap and add more sugar. I normally add 1/2 rounded teaspoon per 500 ml bottle, but with the latest quad I ended up doubling that . By using these it gives confidence in priming because you wont get bombs. If they get to the point of being rock hard, unscrew and burp out some pressure.
Experimentation is easy and you will find how much sugar you need to get good pressure within a few weeks quite fast. Then you can be sure when you bottle into glass.

Before blaming tired yeast,  ensure enough prime sugar to suit your taste of co2 level without waiting years. Poly bottles allow you to safely do that.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2016, 01:35:18 PM by twhitaker »
On tap: 1/2keg cream ale with corn grits
             1/4 keg-  Trappist Quad Ale w/ oak
Day 10 primary: West Coast I.P.A. with homegrown columbus hops 46 liters