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We've made a few batches of beer and our recent batches have not ended up as carbonated as previous. I think the beer has been stored in a cooler place but I'm wondering if that is the only reason. Even after dropping in carbonation drops it still won't carbonate much.

If temperature is the reason, how do you go about fixing this on a batch that has already been bottled?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Temperature can often be the reason. I had a Christmas beer that didn't carbonate because my basement was too cold. I simply took the bottles to a warmer place and they carbonated in the normal time.

Here are some reasons a beer won't carbonate:

  • Temperature: If the beer is too cold it can put the yeast into hibernation. Warming up the bottle might be all you need.
  • Tired/stressed yeast: if your yeast was old or you didn't have enough yeast, or the beer is a stronger beer, there might not be enough healthy yeast left to carbonate the beer. You can add more yeast at bottling time (Related Question)
  • Improper bottle seal: check to be sure the bottles are correctly sealed. If there's any gap at all, the C02 will escape as it's being created
  • Forgetting the carbonating sugar: You've already thought of this, but I added it for completelness.
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You might want to make sure you are drying out the bottles sufficiently after sanitizing. I've had some issues with leaving too much sanitizer in the bottle (duh) killing the residual yeast.

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Temperature could be your problem, every style of yeast needs a different temp to ferment. Another problem could be your clarification techniques were too good. It's possible that you filtered out all of the living yeast before bottling, or somehow killed them with big temperature fluctuations.

The first time I had this issue was the first time I force carbonated a beer and kegged it. But you could also pour all of your beer back into your bottling bucket, repitch new yeast then rebottle.

I'd caution against adding more sugar though, you don't want to over carbonate or have explosions.

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Yes! Be careful of explosions. My friend come home to a closet full of broken glass once! –  sgwill Nov 10 '10 at 17:55
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It is also possible that you don't have enough head room in your bottles. For a normal 12-oz bottle, you probably want about 3/4" of head space.

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I think we do have enough. We use a bottling wand so it naturally leaves a lot of room in there. –  Joe Philllips Nov 10 '10 at 22:44
    
Then yeah, that's probably not it, warming it up a bit might be the trick. –  Tristan Nov 10 '10 at 23:13
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