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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Help: How to prime English Bitter
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Old 09-18-2009, 10:05 AM   #1
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Default Help: How to prime English Bitter

Hi

I'm almost ready to keg my first ever batch. There are lots of posts on here about priming beer for kegging but I wanted to be sure what applied to me and so hopefully some of you can help or offer your opinions.

The keg I have is not a corny or owt fancy, it's a £30 plastic keg with a valve on the top (like a King Keg but it isn't a King Keg, and it doesn't have the floaty thing, just a tap on the bottom.)

I have a 240 gramme CO2 cartridge that could help pressurize it and preserve it, but its not going to carbonate it.

I drink bitter in the pub and bitter isn't fizzy. I'm assuming I need to carbonate it to give it some life, but I don't want a very fizzy beer. I'm brewing from a Brupaks Light Bitter kit (Linthwaite Light.)

So, my questions are: -

how much sugar do I need to use to prime?

What sugar/solution should I use and does it matter?

And most importantly:

How long do I have to wait till I can drink it/how long till all the sugar should be converted?

Thanks in advance for your help.


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Old 09-18-2009, 10:47 AM   #2
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Hi.

5 grams sugar pr liter. straight in the keg/barrel with no need to mix it. leave it to stand at fermenting temp for a week or so then move to a cooler place. should be drinkable in about 3 weeks after kegging, but the longer you leave it the better.


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Old 09-18-2009, 10:49 AM   #3
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Hi from a fellow brit! I've used both sugar and dry malt extract to prime these plastic barrels, both are good. Is yours moulded like a fake wooden barrel, or does it have smooth sides? If it looks like this:
then be careful not to use too much sugar as they have been known to crack under too much pressure (so make sure fermentation is pretty much over). If your barrel has smooth sides (like a king keg or rotokeg) then it's a thicker plastic and you can get away with more.

If you're using dextrose/corn sugar/"brewing sugar", you can probably get away with between 40 and 100 grams (Dave Line recommended, back in the 70s anyway, 30 grams for 20 litres (4 1/2 imp. gallons)). John Palmer recommends 140 grams but I wouldn't recommend it for the style of beer or for that barrel. How much you want also depends on where you store your beer; the warmer it is, the more sugar you'll need to get the same fizz. At 15 degrees C, you probably want about 60 grams for 23 litres (5 imp. gallons). At 10 degrees, 40 g.

Boil it in some water to sterilise, then chocks away! I personally chuck that straight in the barrel, then siphon my beer straight on top of it. There are probably some people who would tell you to cool down your priming solution first but I generally can't be bothered, and by the time it's mixed with all that beer, it generally doesn't matter. Or at least, I haven't had a problem.
As for how much water to use, I personally use the extremely precise measurement of about half a saucepan. You don't want to dilute your beer, but neither do you want to make caramel. Beyond that, how much water you use will only affect the strength of your beer by about +/- 0.2%, if that, so don't worry. If you want to be really precise, you could work it out to be the same strength as your O.G., but I'm personally pretty lax with my hydrometer readings anyway, so I wouldn't worry about it.

So, erm, yeah, about 60 grams of brewing sugar. Sorry about the length!
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Fifth Ave. Brewing:
Primaries - 5g: Empty; 5l: Empty
Secondaries: Empty
Barrel 1: Empty
Barrel 2: Empty
Barrel 3: Riggwelter Clone - Conditioning
Barrel 4: Empty
Barrel 5: Empty
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Old 09-18-2009, 10:50 AM   #4
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I would add about 1.5 oz corn sugar to this (for 21L) This should carb to style for this beer. This is about half the sugar of normal kegged batches.
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Old 09-18-2009, 11:23 AM   #5
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Hi

Thanks for your responses. Yes it is a 'wood effect' plastic barrel pretty much the same oas the one pictured. Probably not the best thing for the job but then I'm still at the baby steps bit.

Right , so I'll aim for about 40-60 grams then.

Does the amount of sugar added and, therefore, the fizz affect the 'creaminess' of the beer. Or is that a stupid question?
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Old 09-18-2009, 12:34 PM   #6
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I've got three of those barrels, one is still fine, but two sprung a leak after being overprimed, so I'm careful with the last one! Fine for starting off with though. I recently got a king keg and a rotokeg off ebay for around £30 each, still not cheap, but reasonable value.

If by creaminess you mean how creamy the head is, then from my experience, using dry malt extract instead of sugar will give a creamier head. If using malt, you need to use a bit more of it than you would sugar. Head creaminess is mainly down to proteins in the beer, which are present in malt but not sugar. As such, I wouldn't think that how creamy the head is depends on the amount of fizz, but how much there is will. If the kit is one where you get a single tin and add sugar, I would assume that you won't get much of a lasting head (I could be wrong), giving a southern style pint. Nothing to worry about though, as it'll taste great regardless!
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Fifth Ave. Brewing:
Primaries - 5g: Empty; 5l: Empty
Secondaries: Empty
Barrel 1: Empty
Barrel 2: Empty
Barrel 3: Riggwelter Clone - Conditioning
Barrel 4: Empty
Barrel 5: Empty
Barrel 6: Leaky
Bottled: None

Reason: Made no sense!
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Old 09-18-2009, 03:12 PM   #7
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I've used a 3kg kit. Currently dry-hopping in a secondary. It's been in there for nearly 2 weeks after 10 days in the fermentation bin, do you think now is a good time to keg it?

As this is my first go, I would just settle for it being decent tasting so I'll be in a hurry to get the next one on the go.

Theonecynic, how do you tend to 'pour' your beers from these kind of kegs. Just straight into the glass or a lot of tubing? Do you use a sprinkler? It's just occured to me after you mentioned that you lost a couple of barrels to over-priming that the beer is giong to be under a fair amount of pressure and so is probably going to want to fly out as soon as I open the tap.

Do I really have to wait three more weeks? This is torture.
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Old 09-18-2009, 03:37 PM   #8
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My question is.... why can't we get these things in the States!?
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Old 09-19-2009, 06:53 PM   #9
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Yes, personally I would keg it now, I tend to follow the 1-2-3 rule for anything not too strong (1 week in primary, 2 in secondary, 3 conditioning) as it's pretty simple and keeps the old brewing calendar pretty transparent.

If it's a 3kg kit, and you're dry hopping, it should taste more than decent, and I look forward to hearing about it! However, the three weeks' wait is really worth it! Although there's no harm in sampling at one and two weeks, so that you understand why three weeks is a worthwhile wait!

I pour mine straight into a glass, no sprinkler or tubing. With that amount of sugar, I'd expect to have to top up with the gas canister about half to two thirds of the way down (hopefully the latter) but as the weather gets colder, it needs more gas to force it out as the beer absorbs more of it. You'll know when, as the flow will slow to a trickle.

As for why these things aren't available in the states, I have no idea. You guys normally seem to have access to all the available gadgetry! Maybe it's the fact that forced carbonation and kegs are ill-received over here due to 70s beer being, well, bad enough for us to need to form CAMRA!

Incidentally, the two barrels that leaked under pressure are still sound without pressure, and I now use them as secondaries, so they're still worth having.
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Fifth Ave. Brewing:
Primaries - 5g: Empty; 5l: Empty
Secondaries: Empty
Barrel 1: Empty
Barrel 2: Empty
Barrel 3: Riggwelter Clone - Conditioning
Barrel 4: Empty
Barrel 5: Empty
Barrel 6: Leaky
Bottled: None
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Old 09-19-2009, 07:23 PM   #10
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Do those plastic kegs hold their carb, or do they start to get flat about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through?


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