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Priming solution

I’d like to poll the experts on the subject of priming. to prime, or not to prime?
I have primed and not primed batches over the years, and have had a variety of results. The first batch I ever primed resulted in exploded bottles (about 10% of them). Once I heard it was not necessary, and made several batches without priming, all with relative success. Most recently, I primed two batches quite successfully, followed by an unprimed batch that has a wealth of head (but goes flat if left open for about 1.5 hrs; the previous primed batch would remain carbonated overnight if left unfinished on the kitchen table).

How necessary is it, really, and on what does it depend (Final Gravity?)?

I just bottled a batch that I neglected to prime (it was very late at night, after a long day…)
but it is similar to the unprimed batch that had an aggressive head last summer, and from the FG reading appeared to be not quite done yet (aereator = next item on wish list).

Thanks for the help and advice!

If you’re getting carbonation without adding priming sugar, you either are bottling beer before it’s finished fermenting (and the yeast are finishing in the bottle and producing CO2) or you have an infection and the bugs are fermenting sugars that yeast can’t normally handle. Priming is absolutely necessary if you ferment the beer to completion and use a sanitary process throughout.

+1000! Priming a bottled beer is ALWAYS necessary, unless something earlier in the process didn’t go as it should. Once a beer ferments out completely, you need to make a priming solution so the yeast have something to chew on, so they can produce CO2, so the beer gets carbed. Without it your beer will always be flat… unless like Shade said your beer was under attenuated or there’s an infection.

+1000! Priming a bottled beer is ALWAYS necessary, unless something earlier in the process didn’t go as it should. Once a beer ferments out completely, you need to make a priming solution so the yeast have something to chew on, so they can produce CO2, so the beer gets carbed. Without it your beer will always be flat… unless like Shade said your beer was under attenuated or there’s an infection.[/quote]

Here’s +1000 more!

I’ll add another grand. just watch your hydrometer readings & prime according to style!

Attenuation was my suspected culprit. And, since fermentation temperature is not really a problem, a wort aereator setup is next on my list. I’m certain it is because of incomplete fermentation, as I’ve only ever had two contaminated batches, 15 years ago, and they were quite obvious (bad kitchen/living setup…).
Seems my FG readings are a touch higher than expected, which would support this theory, but they are not much higher. For instance, 1026, when expecting 1022…would that be enough to produce in-bottle carbonation?

Thanks again, guys.

Okay-

I just finished the grueling and nail-biting task of:
mixing a priming solution,
uncapping 52 bottles of beer,
disbursing said priming solution into each bottle, and
re-capping them all.

I sanitized the bejeezus out of everything, used mostly new caps (I did reuse a couple, and I suspect I will regret that…)
I only uncapped 6 at a time, so each was only open for about a minute total, and each had a mild spurt of CO2 already (hopefully enough to keep out any oxygen).

and, now, we play the waiting game…

I know that in this situation you didn’t have much of a choice.

In the future, consider mixing the priming solution into your bottling bucket prior to filling bottles. This will ensure a more even carbonation than adding a specified amount to each bottle.

You may already do this, but I just wanted to make sure.

[quote=“KISS Brew”]In the future, consider mixing the priming solution into your bottling bucket prior to filling bottles. This will ensure a more even carbonation than adding a specified amount to each bottle.[/quote]I have found the opposite to be true. Dispensing a specific amount of priming sugar to each bottle is the ultimate method to ensure the same level of carbonation in each bottle - the only way you can get the same results mixing in the bottling bucket is by accurately measuing the volume of beer to prime, then making the correct amount of syrup, and keeping it well mixed in the bucket throughout the bottling process.

or switch to prime tabs. :lol:

I tried 3 different brands and the results ranged from mediocre to bad.

Ii have done both priming solution in the bottling bucket, and dropped into the bottles prior to bottling. In the bucket gives me the best results thus far, and I only did the in-the-bottle thing this time because I goofed.
Thanks for the input, everyone!

If you started with an under-attentuated beer, then primed, watch out for bombs. How long was it in the bottle before priming?

Can you walk us through your brewing calendar with a typical beer? What type of beer, what is the OG and FG’s? How long do you let it ferment, temperatures, etc? What strain of yeast are you using?

It would seem that you’re rushing to bottle before fermentation is complete. Racking and bottling will wake up the yeast and they may consume the remaining sugars, causing overcarbonation on top of the priming sugar. In general it takes about 2 weeks for things to finish, I’ve been leaving the beer in the carboy for another week to bulk condition it, so 3 weeks from brew day. I also will shake up/rouse the yeast just to get it to finish, especially for some of the more flocculent strains.

How much sugar are you using for a 5-gallon batch? Somewhere in the range of 1/2 to 1 cup of priming sugar is typical. Table sugar would use slightly less.

For the last couple of beers, I let the wort ferment in the primary for 10 days (one batch sat 14)
then racked for 2 weeks. Bottled when the wort looked quite clear, and there was no remaining airlock activity. I may still be rushing to bottle, here, but I get antsy letting a batch sit more than 3-4 days with no activity.

This batch is a modified 90 Shilling (I added 4 lbs. of additional Munich malt syrup at different places during the boil). I did a 2-stage yeast starter (quadrupled the size of the yeast cake) on S-04 variety yeast. I began using yeast starters to address the attenuation problem of increasing my gravity in my quest for higher ABV.

I use Brewer’s Friend,

http://www.brewersfriend.com/homebrew/r ... alculator/

and so far my gravity measurements have been within .002 of the expected measurements the program gives me. With this particular brew, I started at 1077, and it was supposed to finish at 1021, I got 1022 when racking, and 1026 when bottling (so one of these was erroneous). Even if 1026 is the correct measurement, it’s not that far off, is it? when I say a “slight poof” I mean ever so slight, really just barely more than wishful thinking.
I added 1/3-1/2 cup priming sugar for a 5 gal batch.

On a side note, I just racked the next batch, a modified Altbier, and I have pretty good evidence (high FG) my yeasties did not finish their job. So, I’ll leave it in the carboy and wait to bottle until my FG reading is in line (and stir it up a bit).

My starters are hopefully helping with attenuation, and my basement stays a balmy 65 degrees almost year round (although this summer it seems to have dropped to around 60). So, what else do my yeasties need? Aerator? Nutrients? Temperature controlled refrigerator?
What are your suggestions?

Thanks a lot, guys.

[quote=“The Mad Zymurgist”]My starters are hopefully helping with attenuation…What are your suggestions?[/quote]First suggestion is “don’t make starters with dry yeast.” It’s actually counter-productive as dry yeast is packaged with the correct nutrients for sufficient growth. If you need more than one packet of yeast, then pitch a second packet, don’t make a starter.

Any further recommendations?
I think my basement got colder than it has ever been, due largely to running the A/C in the house more this year (cold air sinks). I measured it at 60 just after posting this thread. I pulled the Altbier carboy up to the kitchen, and made room in the spare fridge, keeping it at 69 inside. It’s active, just barely, so I’ll keep it thus until it’s done done. Then I’ll bottle.

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