I've had pretty good success brewing kits generally, but towards the end of last year I went on a mission brewing a few batches in fairly rapid succession. Unfortunately for me, most of the resultant brews have come out too sweet and slightly flat in the bottle. They all seemed to ferment out completely (as measured by hydrometer).

This has happened to:

  • Woodfordes Admiral's Reserve, brewed in October '15, bottled in November
  • Young's American Pale Ale, brewed in Oct '15, bottled in November
  • Brewferm Diablo, brewed in Aug '15, bottled in October
  • Brewferm Triple, brewed in Jun '15, bottled end July

At the same time I've had some brews behave perfectly - St Peters Ruby Red Ale (Dec), Woodfordes Nog (Sep), Brewferm Abdij (May), Better Brew Czech Pilsner (Aug), and another Young's American Pale Ale (June). I've previously brewed the Admiral's Reserve with no problems too.

I think what might be happening is the newly-filled bottles might be being stored too cold to allow proper bottle conditioning. Our house is quite cold in the winter months (my wife doesn't put the heating on unless it's about 16 deg C indoors) and most of the failures were in the Oct - Dec bottling timeframe. I just put the bottles high in the conservatory thinking it would be warm there, but actually it's not really. I wondered if this might be the case and put the Ruby Red Ale into the cupboard as below a day after I'd bottled it, and it's mostly okay.

I tried to rescue the Admiral's Reserve and the American Pale Ale by bringing them into a warm place for a while (cupboard with fan heater, kept at approx 21 deg C). However no joy - I wonder if the yeast had given up the ghost by then.

Can I rescue these brews? Possibly by venting, bringing up to a warm temperature and adding some fresh yeast? My wife quite likes the sweet Triple so I'm not too worried about that, and probably the Diablo as it's very similar.

Full notes from the failed brews are below (sorry for the long post!):

Woodfordes Admiral's Reserve

10 Oct 15 Brewed as per instructions to 18 litres. Starting gravity 1.052. On floor of the conservatory with heat belt, temperature over fermentation between 22 and 24.

23 Oct 15 Checked SG - was 1.012. Still a few bubbles.

27 Oct 15 Checked SG - was still 1.012. Still the odd bubble as well. Racked to secondary which also bubbled. Notes from last time said it was still bubbling slightly after 4 weeks but SG had got down to 1.005!

06 Nov 15 SG now 1.010, so 5.5% abv (5.7% with priming sugar). Bottled with 75g of sugar into 31 500ml bottles, put at top of conservatory to condition.

21 Nov Bottles pretty cold in conservatory so taken to airing cupboard with fan heater, held at approx 21 degrees.

Young's American Pale Ale

27 Oct 15 Brewed short to 20 litres instead of 23, SG was 1.060ish. Put vessel on floor of conservatory with heat belt.

09 Nov 15 Vessel still bubbling. Have twice tapped on the lid to displace water droplets which fall back into the wort and seem to kick things off again.

10 Nov 15 Measured SG at 1.004! That gives a current ABV of 7.4%! Added hops as it has pretty much stopped bubbling.

12 Nov 15 Transferred to secondary.

17 Nov SG probably 1.005 actually. Is about 7.4% including priming sugar. Batch primed with 90g of the sugar (100g was supplied but I'd brewed short) into 29 500ml bottles and 9 330ml bottles.

21 Nov Bottles pretty cold in conservatory so taken to airing cupboard with fan heater, held at approx 21 degrees.

Brewferm Triple

1 Jun 2015 (or 4 Jun) Two kits brewed full to 18 litres with 1kg of light dry malt extract. OG not taken.

27 Jun (approx) Tested, still at 1.020. Gave a good stir.

15 Jul Stuck at 1.020 so added Belgian ale yeast (Mangrove Jacks M27 Belgian Ale Yeast). Airlock activity by the end of the evening. More airlock activity the next day, looks like it might have restarted.

29 Jul Gravity down to 1.011 - 1.012 so transferred to bottling bucket. Temperature was 18 degrees. Was a bit left over on the trub but tried to keep yeast out of the beer. Beer was a bit cloudy, but not excessive. Bottled into 30 33cl Duvel-style bottles, 8 33cl Leffe bottles and 7 50cl bottles (one half full). Primed as per instructions with 7g of sugar per litre, so 100g for 15 litres indicated (all that was remaining after testing and leaving some on the trub). I wonder if this might be too much sugar?

Brewferm Diablo

06 Aug Two kits brewed full to 18 litres with 1kg of light dry malt extract. Starting temperature 26 degrees, OG 1.073ish, not easy to tell as head very full even in testing tube. Airlock bubbling the next morning.

17 Sep (ish) Gravity still at 1.020 so added Mangrove Jacks M27 Belgian Ale yeast. Noted temperature was down at about 17 or 18 degrees C so put on brewbelt. Next evening it was bubbling again and up at about 25 degrees, so brewbelt loosened a bit.

02 Oct Transferred to secondary. Gravity 1.012ish.

07 Oct Primed with 112g demerara sugar into 48 330ml bottles. FG 1.012, so 8% (8.2% with priming sugar). Up on to conservatory shelf to warm condition, although it's pretty cold inside at the moment.

1 Answer 1


Temperature is your most likely culprit.

Other possible cause could be not enough yeast in suspension. Typical if fining agents are used in secondary.

You're probably past the window for only temp correction to help your existing bottles.

The sweet and low carbonation, sounds like the yeast isn't doing much with the priming sugar. Either not enough or weak yeast and or too cold.

To recover your existing bottles. Add just a few granuals of dry Champaign yeast to each bottle and recap. Store them warm, 72-78°F. They should condition nicely.

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