Bulk Priming Beer on Bottling Day

Saucepan, Sugar & Scales for bulk priming.
Saucepan, Sugar & Scales for bulk priming.

What is Bulk Priming?

Bulk priming is the process of adding a calculated amount of sugar to your whole batch of fermented beer, right before bottling.

My last post was a guide to priming individual bottles with carbonation drops or individual portions of sugar. If you are a beginner or don’t have the extra equipment required to bulk prime, go check out Bottling Day, The Last Step Before Drinking It.

Why Bulk Prime?

Bulk priming beer before bottling will give you much more consistent results then individual priming. When using a mix of different sized bottles, bulk priming will ensure every bottle gets carbonated the exact same amount. The main advantage to bulk priming beer is that you decide the level or carbonation that suit your needs or beer style.

Equipment Required

  • Racking Cane or Auto Siphon with Tubing
  • Saucepan
  • Spoon
  • Scales
  • Secondary Fermenter or Bottling Bucket

Bulk Priming Steps

  1. Clean and sanitise your bottles, auto siphon, secondary fermenter or bottling bucket. Also for good measure sanitise the spoon and saucepan that will be using to dissolve the priming sugar.
  2. Place caps/lids in a small container of sanitiser.

    Caps & Lids in sanitiser.
    Caps & Lids in sanitiser.
  3. Place the fermenter on a bench top where are you are going to do your bottling. Be very gentle moving your fermenter by not disturbing the yeast cake on the bottom.
  4. Pour about 200ml of water in a saucepan and bring it to the boil.
  5. Calculate the amount of sugar required to reach your desired carbonation level. The Brewers Friend Tools have a good calculator to help you with this. If you want read more about carbonating check out my Bottle Conditioning post.

    Measuring Priming Sugar
    Measuring Priming Sugar
  6. Add the sugar to the boiling water.
  7. Boil and stir for a few minutes until the sugar dissolves.

    Boiling the sugar and water.
    Boiling the sugar and water.
  8. Kill the heat and let cool for a couple of minutes.
  9. Place the secondary fermenter or bottling bucket on the ground near the primary. From now on I’ll refer to this as the bottling bucket.

    Bottling Bucket or Secondary Fermenter is Place
    Bottling Bucket or Secondary Fermenter is Place
  10. Pour the sugar solution into the bottling bucket.

    Adding Priming Solution to the Bottling Bucket
    Adding Priming Solution to the Bottling Bucket
  11. Siphon the beer from the primary fermenter to the bottling bucket. If you don’t have a racking cane, hook up some food grade tubing to the tap of your primary and drain into the bottling bucket. Ensure that the hose is sitting right at the bottom of the bottling bucket so there is no splashing as you need to avoid oxidation.

DISCLAIMER: Aussie Brewer Blog takes no responsibility for exploding bottles due to over priming.

Siphoning to a Secondary Fermenter
Siphoning to a Bottling Bucket

Bottling Steps

From here on, its basically the same steps as my Bottling Day post, but with a few tweaks. The main difference here is there will be no trub that needs to be avoided.

Bottling Day, The last step before drinking it.
Bottling Day, The last step before drinking it.
  1. Place the bottling bucket up on the bench and put the lid on. No airlock is required, this is to prevent any airborne bacteria getting your beer.
  2. Attach the open end of the bottling wand inside the tap opening of the bottling bucket. Make sure it’s a tight fit and that the valve end securely fitted.

    Attached Bottling Wand in Tap
    Attached Bottling Wand in Tap
  3. Turn on the tap. Don’t freak out with this because the valve/trigger on the end will hold. The valve will open when pushed up against the bottom of the bottle. You may get some drips so place a towel on the ground underneath the bottling wand.
  4. Grab your first bottle and guide the wand all the way to the bottom until it the valve opens and beer starts flowing.
  5. Hold the bottle there until it fills all the way to the top, then pull the bottle down to shut the automatic valve off. It’s important that fill as close to the top of the bottle as you can. The bottling wand takes up the volume required to give you the correct amount of head space in the bottle.

    Filling Bottle bottles via the Bottling Wand
    Filling Bottle bottles via the Bottling Wand
  6. If you have a partner helping you, pass the bottle to them to cap. Otherwise fill a few bottles then cap them before filling more. You want to reduce the amount of exposure your beer has with the open air.

    Capping a Crown Seal Bottle
    Capping a Crown Seal Bottle
  7. Grab another bottle, then repeat steps 16 & 17 until you have bottled all your beer.
  8. At the end tip the top end of the fermenter towards the tap to get the last of the remaining beer. If you have a bottling bucket with a low tap, this will not be required.
  9. Store your bottles in a dark place that is the same temperature as what your fermentation was for at least 2 weeks. I usually put them in a large plastic storage box in the laundry.

After your beer has conditioned

After 2 weeks you should be able to start drinking your beer, so chuck some in the fridge standing up right. It’s best to leave them in the fridge for at least a day before you drink them to let the sediment on the bottom settle. The longer you leave beers in the fridge the more they will clear up.

How did you find the bulk priming method? Will you continue to use this method or stick with carbonation drops?

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