How to Fix an Overcarbonated Beer

Football season is back!! last night’s 63-6 game made it seem like NAU brought their volleyball team to the field… (should’ve at least brought the boys team…)

… but you know what would’ve been worse than sitting at the Sun Devil stadium as a Lumberjack fan last night?

Going home and not being able to pour a beer cause it’s over carbonated…

Yes… that would truly ruin someone’s day…

So today I posted a new video on how to fix an overcarbonated beer…

http://youtu.be/itrjDXPKEGw

The basic idea of fixing an over carbonated beer from both a keg and a bottle is the same…

You have CO2 in the headspace and CO2 dissolved in the beer…

The way I like to think of it, is that the CO2 that’s in the headspace is pushing down on the CO2 that’s dissolved in the beer…

The amount of CO2 that dissolves into the beer is what we essentially measure or consider as our level of carbonation…

So when you have an overcarbonated beer, what you really have is too much CO2 dissolved into the beer…

In order to reduce carbonation what we have to do is get some of that CO2 that’s dissolved in the beer to exit the beer…

Since the CO2 that’s in the headspace is what’s preventing it from doing so, what we need to do is release the CO2 from the headspace… that will allow CO2 from the beer to exit and replace the amount of CO2 in the headspace…

The amount of CO2 needed to fill the headspace is only enough to build pressure and keep any more CO2 from exiting the beer…

Everytme you release CO2 from the headspace, CO2 from the beer comes out, which is what reduces the amount of carbonation in the beer…

This is the basic idea, but this must be done properly for both a keg and a bottle…

A keg is easy… you simply pull on the pressure release valve and your CO2 comes out… you may want to turn off the gas supply to allow CO2 from the beer to replace the CO2 in the headspace, although it still works if you just pull on the release valve as long as your regulator is set to the right pressure…

For bottles, it’s a bit more tricky… you want to barely pry open the bottle cap to allow CO2 from the headspace to escape bottle… and make sure that the bottle keeps a tight seal… I keep my bottle capper nearby to reseal, but you shouldn’t really need it if you just pry the cap open…

The CO2 in the beer replaces the CO2 in the headspace so just like your kegs, you shouldn’t have to worry about oxygen getting into beer…

So there you have it… that’s how you fix an over-carbonated beer…

… and one thing I’ve caught myself doing lately is just admiring the different types of foam in different beers…

So I started a discussion to see how you describe different types of foam… tell me what you think here: http://betterbrewingnetwork.com/content/over-carbonated-beer-vs-gusher-beers

Cheers!

6 Comments

  • Colin Ernst

    Reply Reply October 1, 2012

    I’ve just recently found your site and have found it helpful on a number of issues. Great site!

    This isn’t directly related to over carbonation but is related to carbonation in general. I had been priming with sugar as most kits and recipes recommend but a little while ago I got a recipe book that recommended priming with DME instead. I brewed a few batches where I primed half w/ sugar and half w/ DME and found a noticeable improvement by using DME. The carbonation is smoother and creamier and it holds a better smoother head.

    I’ve now run several taste tests with different batches and different tasters and everyone agrees that the DME gives you a smoother beer, better mouth feel and a more professional feeling beer. Now that I’ve gone to DME I can’t go back. Beer primed w/ sugar feels like I’m drinking soda. Just an observation. Try it out and let me know what you think. I’ve been using a light DME and it doesn’t seem to impact flavor noticeably.

    • Jorge

      Reply Reply October 1, 2012

      DME is better… I have definitely tried that…

      If you think that´s good, try the German priming method I teach in Mash Control: http://mashcontrol.com

  • Colin Ernst

    Reply Reply October 2, 2012

    Nice! I’ve heard of that method but haven’t tried it yet. Seems like a lot of extra work and a lot of extra risk of contamination. Is priming w/ wort so much better than priming w/ malt that it’s worth it?

    • Jorge

      Reply Reply October 2, 2012

      Actually it’s less work… You don’t have to worry about preparing the priming sugar on bottling day… No more contamination risk than using priming sugar or dme if you clean and sanitize… It mixes better and overall I’ve really enjoyed all the ones I’ve done…

  • Colin Ernst

    Reply Reply October 2, 2012

    Interesting. Well, I’ve got 2 5 gallon batches in secondary now (a honey porter and a wet hop black IPA w/ hops from my garden) so it will probably be a couple months until my next brewing day but I’ll give it a shot and see how it turns out.

  • Jorge

    Reply Reply October 2, 2012

    Let me know…

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