NHC Scores and Carb Tabs

What does one have to do with the other? In my case a lot.  I sent 3 beers to Saratoga NY for the regionals of NHC, a Schwarzbier, Tequila Vanilla Brown Ale, and a Rye IPA.  The Schwarzbier scored a 31 & 29 which I was very happy about. The Tequila Vanilla Brown ale scored a 27 and 29, not great, but respectable in my opinion.  However my Rye IPA which I really liked from the keg scored a 13 and 14.  Ouch!

All the beers I’m brewing now are experiments, unique recipes geared toward understand ingredients and how they interact.  I wasn’t looking for 40pt scores, just some constructive feedback from the judges and for 5 of the 6 score cards, that is what I got.  I have no complaints about the judging of my beers.  With no complaints about the judging and the embarrassing low score on my Rye IPA, what gives?

I’ve had a couple of weeks to think about this and here is my un-scientific conclusion. After I pulled off 6 bottles of the keg, I force carbonated it..  To carbonate the bottles I decided to try the Carb Tabs.  For those of you who don’t know what they are, they are small little pill like tabs of dextrose.  You add 3-5 of them per bottle to carb the bottle. There were two major complaints the judges had about my Rye IPA, a sour flavor and floaties.  The kegged version didn’t have either of these issues.  Now, the floaties were definitely a problem with the tabs.  I saw the same problem in another beer I used them with.  The unintended sourness in my beer is not something I’m used to hearing about with my beer, I’m very confident in my sanitation process.  However, I will concede that it could have been my process. But, the way in which you add the tabs makes me suspect it was also part of my problem.  Since you have to put 4 tabs in the bottle, you end up ovehandling them with your fingers.  (as I’m writing this maybe I should have used tweezers to place them).  It makes me think that the handling of the tabs could have introduced the sanitation issue.

For me, I’m going to stick to priming sugar or dme, I just don’t trust the tabs for my beer.

Do you or have you used the Carb Tabs?  What do you think about them?  Any suggestions on a better way to use them?


8 Responses to “NHC Scores and Carb Tabs”

  1. Jamey Says:

    I used to be a frequent user of these sugars, but I prefer the Coopers Carb drops over the Munton’s. Munton’s, on paper, looks better because you can adjust the carbonation by using 3 to 5 tabs and it includes things like dextrose, DME and heading powder. But it seems to take longer to carbonate, it leaves a lot of sediment in the bottles, and that sediment can break up and float up into your beer.

    Cooper’s is inelegant and inflexible in comparison, but I swear by them. Quick, consistent and low sediment carbonation.

  2. Simply Beer Says:

    Thanks Jamey, these are the things I noticed. Any tips on how to keep these sanitized? Maybe I’ll try the Cooper’s.

  3. Jamey Says:

    I don’t do anything special for sanitization. When bottling, I will have a little bowl of diluted Star San which I soak the bottle caps in for a few seconds. (I do that rather than boil because I use oxygen absorbing caps and moisture is needed to activate them anyway.)

    I guess, in fishing those caps out of the Star San, it could keep my fingers a little bit cleaner. Perhaps that’s it.

  4. Simply Beer Says:

    I guess I can’t figure out how the Carb Tabs stay sanitized. Maybe it doesn’t matter, like adding hops. I too use the starsan for my caps as well for these bottles. If I bottle a full 5 gal I use the dishwasher for my bottles. I guess I should stick to what is working for me and use the priming sugar/dme.

  5. Rob Says:

    I’ve never used the carb tabs but I’ve had good success at competitions with force carbing in the keg and then bottling very carefully with the Blichmann beer gun.

    It’s easy to do (relatively) and you can dial in the carbonation exactly how you want it which I usually don’t worry about except for competitions.

  6. Simply Beer Says:

    Thanks for the Comment Rob. I just got a Beer Gun. Do you actually need 2 regulators or can you use a manafold? I haven’t used mine yet, but the instructions seem to indicate 2 regulators.

  7. Rob Says:

    No you don’t need a second regulator, just a wye or a tee to split the C02 line.

    This video is pretty informative

  8. Simply Beer Says:

    Awesome, Rob. thanks for the video!

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