Chapter 11

Priming and Bottling

Priming Solutions

The best way to prime your beer is to mix your priming sugar into the whole batch prior to bottling. This ensures that all the bottles will be carbonated the same. Some books recommend adding 1 tsp. of sugar directly to the bottle for priming. This is not a good idea because it is time consuming and imprecise. Bottles may carbonate unevenly and explode. Plus there is a greater risk of infection because the sugar has not been boiled. The exception to these rules is to use PrimeTabs'. (More on this product in a minute.)

Here's how to make and add priming solutions:
1. Boil 3/4 cup of corn sugar (4 oz by weight), or 2/3 cup of white sugar, or 1 and 1/4 cup dry malt extract in 2 cups of water and let it cool. Use the nomograph in Figure 65 to determine a more precise amount of priming sugar if you wish. You can add the priming solution in either of two ways, depending on your equipment; I prefer the first (2a).


2a. If you have a bottling bucket (see Figure 66) gently pour the priming solution into it. Using a sanitized siphon, transfer the beer into the sanitized bottling bucket. Place the outlet beneath the surface of the priming solution. Do not allow the beer to splash because you don't want to add oxygen to your beer at this point. Keep the intake end of the racking tube an inch off the bottom of the fermenter to leave the yeast and sediment behind.

2b. If you don't have a bottling bucket, open the fermenter and gently pour the priming solution into the beer. Stir the beer gently with a sanitized spoon, trying to mix it in evenly while being careful not to stir up the sediment too much. Wait a half hour for the sediment to settle back down and to allow more diffusion of the priming solution to take place. Use a bottle filler attachment with the siphon to make the filling easier.

Figure 65- Nomograph for determining more precise amounts of priming sugar. To use the nomograph, draw a line from the temperature of your beer through the Volumes of CO2 that you want, to the scale for sugar. The intersection of your line and the sugar scale gives the weight of either corn or cane sugar in ounces to be added to five gallons of beer to achieve the desired carbonation level. Here is a list of typical volumes of CO2 for various beer styles:
British ales 1.5-2.0
Porter, Stout 1.7-2.3
Belgian ales 1.9-2.4
American ales 2.2-2.7
European lagers 2.2-2.7
Belgian Lambic 2.4-2.8
American wheat 2.7-3.3
German wheat 3.3-4.5