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Bottling

Novice questions here:

  1. Are all bottling wands created equal? Do they all drip/leak?

  2. How much stirring is needed when adding priming sugar? For my previous batches I’ve used the drops you put in each bottle and carbonation has been good, even excellent when I let things sit long enough.

For my last batch I used priming sugar and I added half of the cooled sugar/water mixture to the bottling bucket when I started siphoning from the carboy. About half way through the siphoning I added the rest of the priming sugar/water. I then went straight to bottling and didn’t really stir things up since I was concerned about contamination (should have just used the siphon) and introducing oxygen. I realize the standard answer is to relax and the beer will be fine but should I have actively stirred the beer in the bottling bucket? Can I expect inconsistent carbonation in this batch?

Thanks

[quote=“Lost Hop”]Novice questions here:

  1. Are all bottling wands created equal? Do they all drip/leak?

  2. How much stirring is needed when adding priming sugar? For my previous batches I’ve used the drops you put in each bottle and carbonation has been good, even excellent when I let things sit long enough.

Thanks[/quote]

  1. Mine doesn’t leak at all. You may want to replace it if it is. Where is it leaking? Out of the bottom? The weight of the beer should be pushing the nozzle down so it makes a complete seal. If not, it may need to be cleaned or replaced.

  2. My SOP is to pour all the sugar solution into the bottling bucket and siphon onto it. I usually stir once before I start bottling then every 12 bottles stir again. Not sure if it’s necessary but I’ve never had inconsistent carbonation. My first beer I didn’t stir and they were all consistently undercarbed (due to under-priming) but they were at least consistent.

You should be fine.

[quote=“Lost Hop”]Novice questions here:

  1. Are all bottling wands created equal? Do they all drip/leak? [/quote] Its a pretty simple/cheap device (firm plastic tubing, spring, casing for stopper, stopper) but the newer ones seem to have a better spring. I haven’t seen much variability between products, but did you see something specific or have an issue with yours?

[quote=“Lost Hop”]
2. How much stirring is needed when adding priming sugar? For my previous batches I’ve used the drops you put in each bottle and carbonation has been good, even excellent when I let things sit long enough. [/quote]

When I bottle prime/condition, I will usually stir gently (ie without splashing, but occasionally changing direction) for a minute. The keys here are (1) make sure it gets mixed evenly into the beer and (2) that you don’t splish-splash/oxygenate the beer. I personally think the drops are a waste of money and give you a false sense of security. Check a chart on carbonation that the style you are making should have, then the correct weight of sugar will give you the exact right carbonation for the beer, as it has no choice (assuming you aren’t infected or underattenuated).

the problem with this is that the first dose of simple syrup is dissolved in 5 gallons and the second dose is dissolved in 2 1/2 gallons, so per 12 ounce bottle, the second half of your bottles will have more sugar, hence more carbonation, and likely, the first half will have half the carbonation. Next time just mix the whole dose at once.

Buy a $0.79 spray bottle at your hardware store, and keep it full of sanitizer, and you won’t need to worry about sanitization at bottling again. Just spray and within 30 seconds, all the nasties should be dead.

And yes, you should have stirred it in the bottling bucket. It may have mixed up a bit, but likely not enough.

I would keep these bottles stored inside a plastic bag/bin and away from loved ones/animals, as you may have at least a half batch of bottle bombs on your hands.

[quote=“Lost Hop”]Thanks[/quote] you’re welcome!

I thought this too at first, but then I read it again, he added half before siphoning to the bottling bucket, then the other half, haflway through the siphoning processes. So all the sugar was added before bottling. At least that’s how I understand it.

Ah! Good catch. I knew there was a reason I didn’t become an attorney.

Disregard my diagnosis then OP. For the record, I actually get all my beer into the bottling bucket prior to adding sugar syrup, just to be sure I have the right volume (after leaving krausen/trub, etc. behind), then carefully add or siphon the syrup in. I haven’t tasted oxidation in beers from the light splash of just gently pouring the syrup in (i kind of pour it down the side of the bucket, slowly), but I also use O2-absorbing crowns (which are worth the $ btw!).

I thought this too at first, but then I read it again, he added half before siphoning to the bottling bucket, then the other half, haflway through the siphoning processes. So all the sugar was added before bottling. At least that’s how I understand it.<<

This is correct. All sugar was added before bottling.

Honestly, I’ve never stirred, just dumped the priming solution in the bucket and siphoned the beer on top of it. I always plan on doing stirring, but then get like halfway through bottling before thinking “S**t, I didn’t stir!” Having said that, I’ve ended up with even carbonation for all 3 of the five gallon batches I’ve bottled so far…at least as far as I’ve seen (haven’t yet opened every single bottle). Not saying that’s the right way to do it. And I still plan on stirring next time.

I pre-emptively replaced my filler that came with the NB starter kit with the spring loaded filler. The original one only stayed closed by gravity, which seemed iffy. The tubing in the kit is super snug on the spigot on the bottling bucket, but a bit loose on the bottling wand. I use a hose clamp to snug it up there. That eliminated most leaks.

+1 gravity wands suck.

When we bottle the wife fills, and I cap. The starter kit’s gravity/pressure wand leaked quite a bit, so much that we ended up having to rinse clean all the filled bottles. Since we got the spring-closed wand, no leaks or sloppy bottles. I’m sure there has been technique improvement too, but every bump or shake would make that thing blorp-out some beer.

My leaky bottling wand is the gravity type that came with the starter kit.
Connections to the bucket were fine. It is just the valve leaking between bottle fills.
I did catch as much of the leaks as possible in a small bucket then used that sample for taking a gravity check (curiosity) and a tasting sample. (The beer tastes great).

I’m guessing my non-stirred priming sugar water could have
a) no effect
b) at worse, some over-carbed and some under-carbed bottles.

Ah, I didn’t realize there were gravity-only ones. Spend the $4-5 on a good spring-loaded one. You still might have a few drops of beer spill, but the few bucks is worth the half pint you might lose going the other way.

Got the spring loaded model yesterday at the local brew shop.
What a difference!
Thanks

Now any suggestions on an accurate quick-read thermometer??

[quote=“Pietro”]Ah! Good catch. I knew there was a reason I didn’t become an attorney.
[/quote]

Smart move, this country has far too many lawyers as it is.

If you want to ensure that you have consistent carbonation throughout a batch, stirring the beer in the bottling bucket every 12 bottles or so is an easy solution. You will find hundreds of posts on this forum alone about carbonation problems after following the “standard” method of just siphoning the beer onto the syrup in the bucket.

[quote=“Lost Hop”]Got the spring loaded model yesterday at the local brew shop.
What a difference!
Thanks

Now any suggestions on an accurate quick-read thermometer??[/quote]

Thermapen. They are expensive, but you will not need to buy another thermometer again. I have 3 from an open box sale. PM me if you’re interested. $80 plus shipping.

On kind of related issue, if you have an auto-syphon, and you start to see micro bubbles in the tubing or wands while syphoning, it’s time to get a new one as the rubber stopper in the inside tube either frays or gets weak, and then injects air into your bottles. Has anyone else had that issue?

This makes sense, but I have to say I bottled dozens of batches before I started kegging and never got inconsistent carbonation or stirred. I just added the priming solution to the bucket then syphoned the beer onto it.

Yes, I had that problem. The cause was storing the auto-syphon disassembled such that it was resting on the rubber seal, which deformed it.

A similar situation to watch for is bubbles forming where the hose is joined to the cane. Cause is typically due to the hose being slightly too big (not all 3/8" hose is made equal).

[quote=“rebuiltcellars”]This makes sense, but I have to say I bottled dozens of batches before I started kegging and never got inconsistent carbonation or stirred.[/quote]That’s kind of like saying “why bother wearing a helmet on a motorcycle? I rode dozens of times and nothing bad happened to me!” Stirring is cheap insurance against flat beer and bottle bombs.

Very true. Cheap insurance is a good thing.

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