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Priming Sugars with a keg system (Belgian IPA)

I just brewed my first batch of beer yesterday (Belgian IPA) and I woke up to a happily bubbling airlock. I was looking over the instructions that came with my kit and I was wondering what to do with the priming sugar that came with the set. Should I just add the priming sugar when I transfer the beer from the glass carboy (2nd fermentor) to the keg?

Probably a stupid question but the instructions didn’t address what to do on this step if you are kegging instead of bottling.

Thanks!

Are you naturally carbonating in the keg or force carbonating with c02? If the former, you will want some, but not all of the priming sugar (not sure the kit and how much they sent).

If you are force carbonating, you don’t need the priming sugar.

560SDL,

I’m on the fence. Which do you think is better? I would say it will take me about a month to drink the 5 gallon batch. Which would make for the best flavor and carbonation? It is a Belgian IPA that I am doing.

I really appreciate the advise/response.

Take care,
Pete

Well, I am probably not the person to ask since I have not naturally carbonated a keg yet. I plan to brew some real ales soon and will do that. So all mine are forced carbonated. I am not sure you can go wrong with force carbing but some people like the taste of natural carbonation better.

When I first started kegging, I would bottle part of the batch and had some trouble getting the priming sugar amounts right. I tended to over carb a bit and did not like the fizzyness of it.

I’ve done both and I’m not sure I could tell the difference between a primed keg and one force carbed. I prime my kegs (with 50% of the sugar you’d used to bottle) since I’ve now got a pretty good keg pipeline going and it is always at least a month or so between when I keg a beer and when I’ll be serving it. I figure sugar is cheap and while the keg is just sitting there and conditioning it might as well be carbing up. It also makes it so I don’t have to either wait for the beer to carb up or sit there and shake the keg to get it carbed quickly. I just take my primed and conditioned keg, put in the kegerator and once its cold its ready to drink.

Flip,

Once I transfer from the secondary fermenter to the keg and add the primimg sugar I should wait about a month to let the keg naturally carbonate? Also, some directions call for adding more yeast when you add the priming sugar. My recipe didn’t call for more yeast (nor did the kit give me two packages) but the instructions on the keg said to add yeast when you add the priming sugar.

If I skip the priming sugar and force carbonate I would shorten the process about a month? I guess this all depends on the hydrometer reading too.

You should not need to add yeast unless you have been on secondary for a really long time, like a barley wine or something. It won’t hurt to add yeast, but you would not need a lot.

Naturally carbonating a keg should take a week to 10 days I would think. Force carbonating a keg takes about the same amount of time if you use the set and forget method. You can do it in 24 to 48 hours if you go through certain steps like shaking it while carbonating. Like Flip, I have kegs that sit for 3-5 weeks before there is kegerator room, so I may try his approach to natural carbonating.

One minor downside of natural carbonating is that you will get more sediment in the keg. A bigger version of what you find in a bottle which you avoid by force carbonating. It just means when you first tap the keg and if/when you move it, you will get cloudy beer and some sediment.

Yep, no yeast added, plenty still in there after the transfer. I haven’t checked to see exactly how quickly the primed keg will carb. My best guess is that it about like bottles, in most cases two weeks is enough time.

I really can’t tell much difference in the yeast sediment when I prime a keg. Once the beer has some time to chill and the first yeasty glass is pored off I haven’t had any issues.

If I already have beer in a keg and now have decided to naturally carbonate it, how can I do it. Can I just add boiled corn sugar to the top, swirl a little and let it go? Well the yeast find the sugar? Does it matter where the sugar is when it gets consumed (fully mixed)? Will it naturally mix itself in the keg?

Or do I need to take out and mix thoroughly?

So many questions

I usually add the boiled sugar solution before I rack the beer but I’m certain adding it after the fact, purging the head space with CO2 and giving the keg a gentle swirl will work just fine.

So I noticed that my airlock had completely stopped bubbling this morning. I peeked in through the airlock and saw that the krausen had settled and there was very little foam on the top of the beer in the primary. I transferred the beer to the glass carboy secondary fermenter (making sure not to allow splashing) And I stopped siphoning when I got to the yeasty goop in the bottom of the primary.

I didn’t have enough beer to make it all the way to the neck of the glass carboy. Is this ok? Is that going to be too much headspace?

Also, when I checked the beer with the hydrometer it was checking as finished beer… Is that normal? Should I really check it three days in a row to make sure that the reading remains the same? Or should I just leave it alone for 2 weeks?

So many questions! Any advise or assurance is appreciated.

I tasted a drip of beer that came off the hydrometer and it had a vinegar taste to it.

Hope I haven’t screwed up my first batch!

You shouldn’t have too much head space. CO2 will fill it up and force out any oxygen.

Just tasting a drip may not give you a real indication of flavor. If you take a hydro reading, go ahead and drink the sample because you’re just going to throw it away anyway.

If your reading is already at your FG target and you plan to leave it sit for a week or two, I would hold off taking another hydro sample until you are thinking about bottling. One of two things will have happened. 1) The reading will be the same or 2) It will have dropped further. If it’s #1 you’re good to go. If it’s #2 then wait a couple of days and take another reading.

Above all else don’t panic. The batch is more than likely just fine. The first batch is then most nerve racking batch you will ever make. 8^)

Paul

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