Flat homebrew is a common problem, luckily it is very easy to fix!
Home brew gets its fizz through the process of carbonation. Carbonation happens when the yeast consumes the sugars in your brew producing alcohol and carbon dioxide. It is the carbon dioxide which makes your home brew fizzy.
The reason your home brew is flat is because of a lack of carbon dioxide in your home brew. There are a couple of reasons why this could happen.
The caps on your bottles are slightly loose allowing the gas to escape.You have not primed your home brew before bottling.
Your home brew contains very little yeast sediment. This is usually caused by a long secondary fermentation or excessive filtration.To fix any of these problems you will have to repeat the priming process. I would recommend adding a very small amount of hydrated yeast too. This will help speed up the carbonation process and ensure that there is enough active yeast left in your home brew to properly carbonate your home brew.
Sometimes if you have a long secondary fermentation your home brew will still ferment although it usually takes at least a month before the carbonation levels are correct. As I said previously it’s all down to a lack of yeast rich sediment to produce carbon dioxide when the priming sugar is added, noting to worry about!
Over carbonated home brew beer
Discovering your home brew beer is over carbonated after waiting months before opening your first bottle of the batch can be disappointing, to say the least.
Have you ever made a batch of home brew only to discover that once you popped open the bottle your brew is exploding out uncontrollably and all over the floor? Well, it’s happened to me! Ruining an entire 40 pint batch of beer!
This usually happens because your home brew hadn’t properly fermented by the time you primed and bottled it, creating excess carbonation.
This can also be quite dangerous along with spoiling your batch. Over carbonating your home brew can cause your bottles to explode, sometimes referred to as “bottle bombs”. Once you home brew has been bottled the gases created during carbonation have nowhere to escape so the pressure inside the bottles builds up until BOOOOOOM.. bottle bombs!
So how can this be avoided?
You can avoid the dreaded bottle bomb and excess carbonation by giving your brew enough time to properly ferment. If the kit instruction say to ferment for 4 – 6 days it’s always best to leave your brew to ferment for 6 days, sometimes 7. Avoid the temptation to bottle your homebrew early. Leaving your brew in the fermentation bucket for 2 weeks would still be fine!
If you feel your home brew may be over carbonating while bottled open the caps to vent the gasses inside. Plastic bottles are great for this sort of thing as you can just give them a squeeze to feel the pressure inside. Glass bottles have no warning sings, so be careful if you have little experience in home brewing. A plastic bottle bomb is bad enough, never mind glass bottles exploding!
My home brew is cloudy
My first few batches of home brew where very cloudy, you could hardly see through them! Cloudy home brew beer is perfectly fine to drink though. Although I prefer to have my home brew beers clear and sediment free.
The reason you home brew is cloudy is because of the sediment left over from fermentation. All of the unfermented sugar and dead yeast are now floating around in your brew. If you leave your bottles undisturbed and in an upright position for a few days you will notice that your home brew will start to clear slightly as the sediment sinks to the bottom of the bottle.
Most commercial brewers run their fermented brews through filtration systems to remove the sediment giving you a perfectly clear beer. The average home brewer won’t have the luxury of a commercial filtration system so it’s best to improvise this!
I’ve found that transferring your fermented home brew to a secondary fermenting bucket for 3-4 days before bottling works great for sediment reduction. Fermentation should be completed before you transfer your home brew to the secondary fermenting bucket so that the sediment in your beer can settle to the bottom. After 3-4 days when the brew is starting to look clearer I syphon the brew back into the original (cleaned!) fermenting vessel. While syphoning I also filter the brew by getting a clean cloth and placing it inside a sieve. Just like this
This will greatly reduce any sediment in your home brew leaving you with a nice clear brew!
Remember when you are syphoning your home brew to try not to disturb the sediment at the bottom of the container while getting as much of the brew as possible.