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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Default carbonation problems?

    so here's my recipe:

    6lbs alfalfa or wildflower honey
    1 cup buckwheat honey, 1/2 cup at bottling
    3.3 sorghum LME
    1/2 cup of molasses
    orange peels and juice of 4 oranges
    1/2 cup corriander\
    Danstar nottingham ale yeast

    heated the must/wort just enough to get the bitterness of the hops and bring out the flavour of the corriander.

    S.G. 1.060 or so, fermentation was about a smooth sailing as it can go and pretty much fermented to 1.003 within a week. Racked into secondary for 10 days to 2 weeks then bottled with 1/2 cup of buckwheat honey/water into bottling bucket. Tried a bottle a week after bottling, this bottle i added about 1/8tsp of corn sugar because i knew i would be trying this one early so i wanted to make sure it was carbonated. I hit the nail on the head with this "braggot style" mead. It was exactly how i wanted it to turn out and it was only about a month old. It smelt amazing and tasted perfect to me anyway. for the next week I was craving this beverage all the time. The next time I had one, it was flat as apple juice and we all know how good flat beers are. I had 10 or so that i had bottled in the grolsch style bottles so decided to open them up and put a 1/4 tsp of corn sugar in each bottle then let them sit for another week even putting a little space heater on them to kickstart the yeast. Tried a week or so later and still flat.

    I had made another batch of this because i loved the first bottle i cracked open so much and wanted enough for summer. Let it sit in the primary for a week and a half then racked and with what was left in the bucket after racking most of it into a secondary. just to test, i put the leftover in 2 grolsch bottles and primed them with corn sugar again just to see if this batch would carbonate as it had only been a week and a half so surely the yeast wouldn't be dead and not have a problem eating the sugar enough to carbonate the 2 bottles.

    Now i ask, why the H is this not carbonating?? i didn't want to add more yeast at bottling and don't want to force carbonate through kegging, so while my 2nd batch is in the secondary as i write this, what can i do different? i've heard that it takes up to a month or so to carbonate but why did my first bottle from the first batch work out so perfectly and the rest didn't?

    sorry for the length of this post.. can't wait to hear your answers/opinions on this.. thanks in advance!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    Ottawa, ON
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    Default

    How big a batch was this? I use 1/5 cup of honey per gallon to prime my ginger hydromel. If you used only a half a cup in a much bigger batch, I'm not surprised you're not getting much carbing. I use 1/2 to 1 tsp of sugar in a beer bottle when I prime for carbonation.

    ...that said, I'm bookmarking your recipe
    Last edited by Chevette Girl; 04-01-2012 at 06:22 PM.
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014
    "I tend to....um, er, experiment, and go outside the box. Sometimes outside the whole department store." - Ebonhawk, 2014

  3. #3

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    typically 1 cup of honey is recommended for a 5 gallon batch to get normal beer level carbonation

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    Ithaca, NY
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    Default

    Maybe I just missed it, but how long was the bottle you tried that was flat in the bottle? 1 week is not usually enough to see full carbonation unless it's really warm. I wouldn't say you've got a carbonation problem until it's been a month or so in bottle and still flat.

    All that being said, yes one cup of honey in 5 gallons is about the right amount. With half that, you should see a tiny bit of fizz but not a whole lot in the way of bubbles/head.
    Want to see something added to the GotMead Glossary? PM me! Didn't know we had a glossary? Check the top row of links.

  5. #5
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    Default

    it is a 5 gallon batch, and i'm going on Ken Schram's book in regards to the 1/2 cup of honey to prime but i will definitely be doing at least a cup on this second batch. What really gets me is the fact that that first bottle was perfectly carbonated at only 6 days after bottling (this is the only bottle that i initially added corn sugar too as well as the 1/2 c of honey added to the batch, as i knew that this was a test bottle that i would sample within the next week). It tasted amazing and i couldn't get over the smell of the empty bottle the whole night and next day. I found myself taking whiffs of the empty every so often, being so impressed with how it turned out. The second bottle i tried had 2 weeks in the bottle and was as flat as could be and didn't even taste half as good as the first... i guess that's what carbonation does for a beer. I've had 7 or so bottles now, including the ones that i added extra corn sugar too and not a damn bubble to be seen, (its been approx 3 weeks since bottling). The only thing i can think of would be that as i dry hopped in the secondary, the hop pellets gathered to the top of the carboy and i don't think i even stirred or swirled it once to degas while it was in there for around a week so is it possible that the CO2 got trapped and killed the remaining yeast?

  6. #6
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    Ah, perhaps corn sugar also ferments more easily than honey?

    I don't think CO2 could actually kill your yeast.

    You could always add a few drips of something containing yeast with the same attenuation to each bottle...
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014
    "I tend to....um, er, experiment, and go outside the box. Sometimes outside the whole department store." - Ebonhawk, 2014

  7. #7
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    Jun 2006
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    Default

    No, the CO2 during dry hopping should not be a problem.

    The thing that just came to mind though is the stirring comment. How well was the priming honey stirred in? I've had some batches come out with very uneven carbonation because I didn't mix in the priming sugar enough.

    My priming "method" is to boil the (corn) sugar in a little water for a couple minutes. [you'll see some people say you need to sanitize the sugar, but that's kind of silly. I boil to degas the water.] This cools a bit and gets put into the empty bottling bucket. The beer gets racked onto it (and this does a pretty good job of stirring all by itself), and when it's all in there I take a giant sanitized spoon and give it a gentle stir. Since I added that last stir I haven't had any uneven carbonation problems. [you must stir clockwise. ]
    Want to see something added to the GotMead Glossary? PM me! Didn't know we had a glossary? Check the top row of links.

  8. #8
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    Mar 2011
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    Saskatchewan, Canada
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    Default

    Corn sugar, from what i've read is the most fermentable. Some claims have been close to 100% that i've seen. I will give it another week or so to see if they dummy up and carbonate or else i'll have to make a starter and over the course a few days slowly add in some of the mead/braggot to the yeast to get them accustomed to their new environment. I'll use a tincture with dropper to add to the bottles and hope that works... i really did not want to go this route and open up all the bottles, but if i have to, I have to...

    Side note: I have a gluten sensitivity and miss beer, (i do have an occasional "real beer"), but I wanted to make a beer that i could not bad about drinking over the spring and summer. Not having used any malted grains in this beverage, i must say that (the one bottle i had that was carbonated), was the best gluten free drink i have ever tasted and would actually prefer it over most beer's i have tried. The next time i make this recipe, I will be experimenting in malting my own grains.. either buckwheat or amaranth or quinoa or a combo of each, in hopes of getting more head retention and adding some more body and maybe a bit more unfermentable sugars.

    Chevette Girl if you are ever to make this, the only thing i would recommend to you would be to use more buckwheat honey than i did.. and to let me know how it turns out

  9. #9
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    Akueck, i was worried about the possibility of not mixing it thoroughly enough right after i bottled and the next day i had some regrets, but i did put in the priming solution into a bottling bucket first, then racked onto it. I then put the lid on the bucket and then gave it a gentle shake/swirl motion as my spoon was not sanitized at that moment i needed it. So I know i could of probably done a better job of mixing had i not been to lazy to sanitize my spoon.. Oh hindsight is a b!tch.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryguy16 View Post
    Akueck, i was worried about the possibility of not mixing it thoroughly enough right after i bottled and the next day i had some regrets, but i did put in the priming solution into a bottling bucket first, then racked onto it. I then put the lid on the bucket and then gave it a gentle shake/swirl motion as my spoon was not sanitized at that moment i needed it. So I know i could of probably done a better job of mixing had i not been to lazy to sanitize my spoon.. Oh hindsight is a b!tch.
    Well you're in good company. At least you remembered the priming sugar; boy does it suck when you forget that part.

    If you go the malting route, there are several of us that have done it. Several good threads in the beer section are all about GF drinks.
    Want to see something added to the GotMead Glossary? PM me! Didn't know we had a glossary? Check the top row of links.

  11. #11

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    Ryguy -
    I'm also interested in trying this recipe, hopefully fairly soon.
    You mentioned that you had dry hopped in secondary and I was wondering what kind of hops you used, how much during each stage, and also how long you left the hops in the heated must/wort.
    And what kind of a flavor does sorghum have compared to barley malt?

    I hope that you are able to fix your carbing dilemma. This sounds like it's pretty tasty.
    All the world's a nail to a child with a hammer.

  12. #12
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    Mar 2011
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    the sorghum is like a grassy light tasting molasses with the consistency of really thick corn syrup. I have never tasted barly malt by itself so i can't comment there.

    I don't have my log in front of me but I heated the sorghum in hot water, probably a 2.5 gallon stockpot at a low boil or just below the boiling point because I don't think you need to do any extreme heating. I added the molasses, buckwheat honey, orange peels, and corriander with hop additions every so often. I only heated for 40 or so minutes just enough time to infuse the corriander and peels and hops. I did this recipe twice with slight tweaks mainly because i couldn't get the same hops i had used in the previous batch. I think i used centennial and cascade the first time (staggering 1/2oz every 10-15 min and then dry hopping with 1/2 oz of the cascade for 5-7days in secondary. This time I used E.S. Goldings and cluster and dry hopped with a full ounce and its been a week in the secondary as of now. I used approx 3oz of hops in total, being low-mid alpha acid and they were added in the last half of the heating so i didn't get anything too bitter with this light bodied braggot. And now i know to use a cup of primer (buckwheat honey for maybe a little extra malty character) instead of the 1/2 cup that i used previously.

  13. #13
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    Sorghum is usually describes as having a bit of a "sour twang", and I think I'd agree with that. Barley malt syrup pretty much tastes sweet, rich, caramel. Sorghum syrup has a bit of tang in it to offset the sweetness, and it doesn't taste as sweet.

    Hops do benefit from a good rolling boil to isomerize the alpha acids (the bitter compound). A simmer will result in a less bitter beer.
    Want to see something added to the GotMead Glossary? PM me! Didn't know we had a glossary? Check the top row of links.

  14. #14
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    May 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by akueck View Post
    If you go the malting route, there are several of us that have done it. Several good threads in the beer section are all about GF drinks.

    Yeah, I've had the most success with malting buckwheat. However, my Hefe Buchweizen (75% buckwheat / 25% dry sorghum extract) was overpowering on the buckwheat flavor. I kind of like the buckwheat flavor, but I don't think you can try and make any traditional style using buckwheat as your base malt.

    I also recently fermented a 100% Sweet Potatoe beer.

  15. #15
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    that sweet potato beer sounds fascinating!! I can't even imagine how to start to even consider how that tastes... and good call on the sorghum having a "sour twang" to it. Its not overbearing by any means and i think the honey helps cancel that characteristic out.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by BBBF View Post
    Yeah, I've had the most success with malting buckwheat. However, my Hefe Buchweizen (75% buckwheat / 25% dry sorghum extract) was overpowering on the buckwheat flavor. I kind of like the buckwheat flavor, but I don't think you can try and make any traditional style using buckwheat as your base malt.

    I also recently fermented a 100% Sweet Potatoe beer.
    BLECH! SWEET POTATOES!!!!

    Sorry, you stumbled upon one of the very few foods that I DESPISE.

    I hate it when someone insists that I try their sweet potatoes at turkey day (But you've never had it my way! It's like candy!) invariably I'll take a tiny taste and they'll be offended when I say, "Sorry still can't stand the taste"

    I have been prepping for fall brewing though. I want to make a pumpkin spice ale this coming year!
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryguy16 View Post
    that sweet potato beer sounds fascinating!! I can't even imagine how to start to even consider how that tastes... and good call on the sorghum having a "sour twang" to it. Its not overbearing by any means and i think the honey helps cancel that characteristic out.
    The recipe isn't ready for prime time. It ended up having a "soapy" taste, which I belive had more to do with the troub and no secondary than anything the sweet potatoes contributed (aside from the fact that they didn't a strong enough flavor to hide any flaws). Hopefully a future attempts at better fermentation management and/or laggering and/or including some roasted grains improves the results because it's a lot easier to run some SP's in the food processer than it is is malt my own GF grains

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Loadnabox View Post
    BLECH! SWEET POTATOES!!!!

    Sorry, you stumbled upon one of the very few foods that I DESPISE.

    I hate it when someone insists that I try their sweet potatoes at turkey day (But you've never had it my way! It's like candy!) invariably I'll take a tiny taste and they'll be offended when I say, "Sorry still can't stand the taste"
    sentiment seconded. But I'm not the one who made it or will be drinking it so I do hope your future attempts produce the finished product you desire.

  19. #19

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    Yeah - I've always disliked the candied sweet potatoes too, but they're actually not terrible just baked plain with a little butter. Still prefer the standard baked russets w/ butter, sour cream and chives.

    I have to admit though, I've never had fermented sweet potatoes.
    Sorry for thread jacking Ryguy.
    All the world's a nail to a child with a hammer.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loadnabox View Post
    I hate it when someone insists that I try their sweet potatoes at turkey day (But you've never had it my way! It's like candy!) invariably I'll take a tiny taste and they'll be offended when I say, "Sorry still can't stand the taste"!
    All the more for me, then But I do understand the sentiment, I'm like that with raw tomatoes... "Oh, just try one, they're so sweet!" Nope, my dad got me with that one every year when I was a kid, not doin' it again.

    And I actually added a couple of sweet potatoes to my pumpkin mead this year, I read somewhere here they're supposed to bring out the pumpkin flavour. Haven't tasted it to confirm but since I used the purple potatoes, they did lend a beautiful colour to it. And with the second run from the pumpkin bag I made a hopped hydromel that I will eventually prime and bottle.

    There, back on topic
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014
    "I tend to....um, er, experiment, and go outside the box. Sometimes outside the whole department store." - Ebonhawk, 2014

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