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Priming Basics

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jlietzow

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I need some practical advice for priming and bottle conditioning my beer. Here's what I've done so far...

My first batch was a pale ale and it went well. I added priming solution to the bottling bucket, racked, and bottled. I had a good head and a was very drinkable first beer within only 6 days after bottling.

My second batch was a less successful IPA. I had racked to a secondary Big Mouth Bubbler that was "siphonless". When it was time to bottle I decided not to use the bottling bucket to take advantage of the spigot on my BMB. However I still needed to mix my priming solution. Foolishly I added the priming solution directly into the BMB and attempted to stir gently. Needless to say my beautiful, clear IPA became a cloudy mess very quickly. I bottled anyway and the result was lots of sediment in each bottle and a nasty bite to the beer (which has slowly been getting better with time).

For my third batch, an oatmeal stout, I vowed not to repeat that mistake so I used the bottling bucket. I opened a bottle one week after bottling and was disappointed to find no carbonation in the beer at all. There was some fizz upon opening the bottle but none in the beer itself.

Now I know that one week is not enough time so I'll try again 2 weeks after bottling and hope for better results then. Nonetheless since I'll be bottling again in a few days I was hoping to fix whatever I can if I'm doing something wrong. Here are my specific questions:

1) Does a stout generally take more time to carbonate? I know that it's a much heavier beer (even though the ABV of this kit will be under 5%). If so, how long should I expect?

2) Is there any special technique I should use when transferring to the bottling bucket to ensure that I properly mix the priming solution?

Thanks in advance for the sage guidance!
 

Jtk78

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I'll answer question 2 first.

Make your priming solution by boiling 2 cups of water plus my priming sugar (per carbonation calculator so you don't over carb), after boiling a few minutes, pour the priming solution into your priming bucket. Now siphon the beer into the bottling bucket with the hose placed in the bottom and so the beer gently swirls in bucket to mix everything up. I usually let the priming solution cool a little but before tranfering the beer, but some say it's not necessary.

I haven't noticed a stout taking longer to carb, but you want them all to be at about 70F. If it's cooler than this, it can take longer. Usually by two weeks at 70F, they're carbed. 66F may take 3-4 weeks.

Also, chill the bottle at least 24 hours prior to opening.
 

RPh_Guy

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^ this is almost exactly what I do. Works great.
I also leave it sit for a few minutes to distribute and gently stir right before bottling.
Every few days while conditioning I flip the bottles upside-down a few times. It speeds up the process. I'm impatient.

It's possible the kit for the stout had less priming sugar since stouts traditionally have a lower carbonation level. Did you weigh it yourself?
 

Rob2010SS

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General rule of thumb once bottled is 3 weeks @ 70*F. That's a very safe number, usually it's much quicker than that. A stout like yours should not take longer to carbonate. If it was a 10% stout and aged in a barrel for a long period of time, then yes, it'll take longer. Your situation should not take any longer.

I'd cool the priming solution, pour it into bottling bucket, rack beer on top of it and put your siphon tube against the side of the bucket so that it gets a slight whirlpool motion going in the bucket. This mixes everything up nicely.
 

z-bob

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Boil the sugar to dissolve it, and put the solution in the bottling bucket first is a good way to do it.

If you don't want to use a bottling bucket, you can add a little sugar in each bottle. One 2.5 gram sugar cube (Domino Dots) per 11 or 12 ounce bottle works well for most style. Use two cubes for a 22 oz bomber.
 

LostHopper

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Priming sugar/water mixtures can be a little voodoo but usually still work great. The calculators are based on the amount of beer bottled but it's added to the bucket before you get the beer transferred so depending on the yeast cake and any hop trub left in the fermenter your bottled amount may be different than what you calculated to bottle. This would be less of an issue if the beer had been transferred to a secondary but who does that??

No one ever feels like they got it mixed in well enough but somehow it's always fine.

The Domino Dots (not Domino cubes) worked well for my recent stout and you do rest easy knowing you have the same amount in each bottle.

Whether using priming solutions or Dots I've found that all carbonation issues resolve with time. Once again, being impatient is not a good brewing trait. Cheers
 

FloppyKnockers

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I guess I'll be the first to say that you do not need to boil your sugar water. About 170 degrees is fine for sanitation. I don't even boil it anymore. I just make sure the sugar is dissolved. By now there's enough alcohol in the beer to prevent infections.

1) No. Your stout shouldn't take any longer than a couple weeks. Like mentioned above - refrigerate before opening.

2) Just avoid agitating it. This would introduce oxygen. Probably what you did with your IPA. Another alternative is to bottle as normal without priming solution and add 1/2 tsp sugar straight to the 12 oz. bottle.

I see kegging in your future.
 

TwistedGray

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^ my usual process, too

Skip the priming sugar and do it per bottle.

Adds a few minutes to the process, but bottling five gallons is already a lengthy process. More precise.
 

Miraculix

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I admit it is a pain, but I weigh 4g of dextrose per 0.5l bottle for ales and prime per bottle.
 

balrog

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Patience.
Time heals many things.

I only use 1c water for priming, when I bottle. I'm a stirrer, but I'm also a lot of persnickityness on two legs. I've not used the priming cubes/sugar drops/per-bottle methods but a friend has used them with good results.

But a week is way too soon to be checking anything. Especially a stout which may not need more time to carb, but does benefit from more time, like a good stew, to have all the flavors meld and mellow.
 

cactusgarrett

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I'm assuming that your stout was treated like a typical "short term" brew, in which case all the above would apply.

Just wanted to throw this out there that in the future if you were ever to age a beer for an extended period of time (say, to sour or age on oak, etc), it is very likely that all the residual CO2 that would otherwise be in solution is gone and the yeast is unhealthy/dead. You'd then have to (respectively) add more sugar to make up the lost residual CO2, and possibly add bottling yeast in order for a proper carb level.

Again, I'm assuming your stout situation does not fall into this long-term category, but I wanted to put it out there in case OP (or anyone else) plans for something like that.
 
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jlietzow

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Thanks to everyone for the guidance. The beer turned out great! I just needed a little patience (sensing a trend here).

I opened another after two weeks in the bottle and it was well carbonated. In the future I'll try to remember the homebrew mantra "Relax. Don't worry. Have a home brew."

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