Bulk Priming Beer Bottles!

After years in the Home brew game it finally happened, my first batch of bottle bombs……it wasn’t that I bottled to early either, I waited 2 weeks in this case, almost to long in most peoples opinion. It was the sugar, I was out of carbonation drops and with out a sugar measure, and was stuck using a teaspoon and a bag of sugar, a messy process in anyones books.

I was apprehensive at first, assured myself not to worry but sure enough, 3 days later I returned home to find my lovely partner screeching her head off. She wanted explanations….assurances…… she wanted promises, written and signed that it would never happen again. Imagine the fright she would have receive when 6 of my precious brewski’s exploded whilst she was quietly watching TV ( a new idea for April fools just entered my head).

This little experience did however send me on a search for different methods of carbonation. Carbonation drops are good for the most part but I always wondered how do the brewery’s do it, and with no sediment in there bottles, it is a question that has played over in my head many times…… And along came bulk carbonation
A little known method that seems to have slipped through the fingers of the majority of home brewers out there and tends to come as a bit of a shock to many.

Most of us will have started our beer brewing days with bottling, and as such I think EVERYBODY will be familiar with the tedious process of filling the bottle, putting the sugar in, capping the bottle….repeat. Little did many people know that you can eliminate the middle step in the process, thats right, sugar less carbonation….well not quite.

Actually you still use sugar (or dextrose in this case), just in a very different way. Instead of placing the required amount in each individual bottle, which we all know posses a degree of risk, you dissolve the total amount of sugar needed first and add to the whole brew.

Heres a short example that would be used for medium carbonation (see table). So for an average 23 litre brew we use 90-140gm of dextrose. Lets call it 110 grams and call it even.

In a small saucepan and using a small amount of water (about 200ml is usually acceptable) mix in the dextrose and bring to the boil, let it boil for about 2 minutes whilst stirring. Take of the heat and add to your wort just before the bottling stage, try to pour it in so it spreads all throughout the wort and ‘lightly’ stir. I strain on the word lightly to, as we want to be sure NOT to kick up any of the sediment on the bottom, or aerate our beer!

After this just continue on to bottle like normal.

Carbonation Level Total amount of Dextrose to add (grams)
19 L 23 L 40L
High 135-190 160-230 280-400
Medium 75-115 90-140 160-240
Low 0-55 0-70 0-120

his method has two major advantages over the traditional method. Firstly it ensures a constant carbonation over the entirety of your brew and it allows you to appropriately adjust the carbonation levels according to the type of brew you are doing (something of a myth to those accustomed to using carbonation drops). Secondly it eliminates yet another contributer to the sediment that graces so many of our home brew bottles, albeit only a little but I’m sure most of you will agree, every little bit counts….especially when it comes to beer!!

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