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Failure to carbonate


Back in September, I brewed an abbey tripel. I bottled it in January. The beer is still barely carbonated, almost flat. I used 4.5oz of priming sugar for a batch slightly larger than five gallons. The yeast I used was WLP 550, and the alcohol is about 10.5% ABV. I can’t think of what I could have done wrong, other than possibly the alcohol percentage being too high for healthy yeast activity. Any suggestions? Besides the carbonation issue, this is a delicious beer, and I want to bring it to its full potential. I don’t own a keg or any kegging equipment, so that’s not an option.


Hey, sounds like it could be yeast fatigue resulting from the long-ish conditioning period (4 months from Sept-Jan) and the high alcohol %. Not completely out of the picture for that yeast but depending on pitch rate and a ton of other factors you could have different levels of yeast viability.

There are a couple possible solutions. Take each bottle and give it a good shake then store it somewhere slightly warmer than your average room temp or cellar conditions (23-25C is nice). This might wake the yeast up just enough to finish the carbonation job.

Another more extreme solution is to carefully dump all the bottles into a brewbucket, add fresh high alcohol tolerance yeast such as champagne yeast and rebottle. Note that in doing this you expose yourself to a significant risk of scraping your batch through infection and/or oxidation.

The other is to change the style from tripel to Belgian barleywine, and mention to all your friends that like a fine wine, it is better enjoyed near flat :wink:

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I tried the shaking technique about three weeks ago, with no success (so far). I’m wondering if those carbonation tablets that they sell might work, because the idea of rebottling doesn’t thrill me in the least.


If you have a couple bottles that are super overcarbed and others that are nearly flat, that would indicate poor dissolution of your priming sugar and make carbonation tablets worthwhile. If it really is yeast that isn’t working, adding more sugar won’t fix the problem sadly (those carbonation tablets are essentially just portion-sized bits of sugar to put into each bottle)


Damn. I was hoping those things were some sort of thing that released CO2 as they dissolved. I guess I’m just going to have to sit on it for a while and hope it eventually carbs up. Probably shake again, too. And next time I brew this recipe, I’ll pitch some more yeast before bottling.