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Dave I
08/12/07 10:35 AM  
Priming: Sugar & Yeast Questions
Couple of quickies . . .

1) What is the recommended amount of priming sugar for priming Belgians without getting bottle bombs? I would like my current batch to be well-carbonated but not have glass shrapnel fill the air at random.

2) For bottling, how long can you have the beer in primary and secondary before needing to add a yeast to guarantee carbonation?

3) If adding a yeast at bottling, can you use a neutral, dry yeast (e.g. US-56) or will the Belgian primary yeast be better?

4) If you keg and prime with sugar in the keg, does it taste as good as if you bottle condition, or do you lose something as the amount of yeast in suspension goes down? I ask because I have been told (by the somewhat suspect Unibrou distributor) that you should swirl your bottles of Unibrou because it adds quite a bit of taste, yet that is supposedly a problem in kegged batches since the yeast drops out of suspension and near the end of the keg there is not nearly as much yeast in any given glass.


08/12/07 01:50 PM  
Re: Priming: Sugar & Yeast Questions
1) The amount of priming sugar is dependent upon how much residual CO2 remains in solution from fermentation, the current temperature and your desired carbonation level in atmospheres. Colder temperatures will allow the beer to have more residual CO2 left over from fermentation. It's still a slight crap shoot but I usually use anywhere from 4.7 (2.5 atmospheres) to 5.3 (2.8 atmospheres)ounces of corn sugar. These measurements come from ProMash.

2) You should always make a fresh yeast starter for bottling. If your fermenting and cold conditioning processes are long enough (I normally do 2 weeks fermentation and 6 to 8 weeks cold conditioning) then you will always need to make a fresh starter.

3) You can use any yeast you want at bottling but why not use the same strain that you fermented with since you should have lots on hand from the fermentation process. You still need to make a fresh starter with it.

4)A keg is nothing but a very large bottle and if you keep the keg and bottles at the same temperature for aging then they should be quite similar in their flavor profiles. However, different size containers do have a slight impact on the aging process.

Your Unibrou distributor: is a freakin idiot!!!!!!!!!!!

Never swirl a bottle of beer to disturb the yeast -unless it is a hefe. You will cloud the flavor profile of the intended style with chalky yeast. Please don't ever take ANY information from your particular Unibrou distributor as serious or factual.

Dave I
08/12/07 03:52 PM  
Re: Priming: Sugar & Yeast Questions
"3) You can use any yeast you want at bottling but why not use the same strain that you fermented with since you should have lots on hand from the fermentation process. You still need to make a fresh starter with it."

I did not think to save any from the primary fermentation, and the rest of it is at the bottom of my secondary fermenter. So, dry yeast seems like the best option. I did not know if I would make the beer somehow not as good by not using the Belgian yeast as the bottling yeast. If it will not make much or any difference, it is much easier for me at this point to bottle with US-56. Unless of course there is a good reason not to.

"Your Unibrou distributor: is a freakin idiot!!!!!!!!!!!"

You are correct! Still, I did not know if there was anything to that particular line of logic he was spinning or not. I mean, the idea that you should stir the yeast into suspension had to come from SOMEWHERE, right? He said there were only certain yeasts which you could/should do this, but that sounds as much like a sales pitch for why the beer he sells is special now as it did when I heard him say it.


08/12/07 05:04 PM  
Re: Priming: Sugar & Yeast Questions
The whole yeast in your beer thing, as I understand it, is not exactly a Belgian thing. I understand that the beer is decanted, then the yeast, if you care to consume, is served in a shot glass to be drank at the end. Of course I could also be talking outta of my rear much like the Unibroue disto.
Ross Lunato
08/12/07 11:12 PM  
Re: Priming: Sugar & Yeast Questions
The only time I've heard of shooting a shot of yeast with a brew is when drinking a DeKonink.

08/13/07 10:35 AM  
Re: Priming: Sugar & Yeast Questions
I had a Unibroue IMPORTER say the same thing (here in Western WI) about the bottom of the bottle.

In some cases it is interesting to taste the last of the bottle, with yeast, but it does cloud the actual taste of the beer. Different strokes...

Any distributor/importer that would say/recommend that without any additional caveats is an idiot that doesn't understand that some people don't WANT that in the glass.

Same reason I don't like the bartender pouring my beer into a glass for me. I know how I prefer my beer, and 9/10 time I know more about the beer than the bartender.

As to reyeasting at bottling, if I've had a beer in primary/secondary for more than a month total I'll usually reyeast. I just put a packet of dry yeast into the bottling bucket as I rack onto the priming agent; it seems to work for me, but I'm too lazy to bother with a starter most of the time.

cheers, scamborn

08/13/07 03:01 PM  
Re: Priming: Sugar & Yeast Questions
As far as the yeast thing goes it is true it many cases it clouds the true flavor of your beer, but it's really a personal preference. Sometimes the yeast adds a different twist to a beer, not ALWAYS deteracting from flavors....Some people like it, others don't. Even Michal Jackson, on one of his beer hunter DVDs, states that he enjoys adding the dregs to his glass when enjoying belgians (beers, that is). I certainly wouldn't argue with him!
Sean White
08/13/07 09:56 PM  
Re: Priming: Sugar & Yeast Questions
I use 6 oz. of priming sugar, after I know the beer has used terminal gravity of course, to about 4.75 gallons of beer in the secondary. That beer is at 75 degrees or therabouts.

It's a good "Belgian" level of carbonation that you shouldn't have explosion problems with, and the mouthfeel is good. It could be more carbonated, I might start upping my sugar by .25 oz until I have the perfect amount.

10/18/07 01:18 PM  
just dropping by to say...
Hi! I just found this forum and it looks really cool.

Now, I gotta run off and read some posts. :)

Dave I
10/19/07 09:44 AM  
Re: Priming: Sugar & Yeast Questions
Strangely enough, despite the SPAM in the above post, I needed to post a question in this thread anyway.

"4)A keg is nothing but a very large bottle and if you keep the keg and bottles at the same temperature for aging then they should be quite similar in their flavor profiles. However, different size containers do have a slight impact on the aging process."

Will there be much if any change between bottle conditioning and force carbonating in Belgian brews? I have a batch of La Chouffe clone that is ready to do SOMETHING with. If I bottle, I will have to add some sort of yeast since it has been in secondary for a few months. I will likely use US-56 as that is what I have on hand. Will I get any additional flavor contribution from bottle-conditining it with a secondary yeast strain (it will not be adding an Belgian flavors) as opposed to just force-carbonating it and drinking it straight from the keg? I know some (Joe Fleischman for one) greatly recommend bottle-conditioning to get better beer in things like Belgians, but I do not know if that holds true when you use a non-Belgian yeast. I have heard some say that bottle conditioned beer tastes better, but I like kegged beer quite a bit as well. If I could buy a keg of Orval or Delirium Tremens or Rochefort 10 . . . But that is beside the point.

Any thoughts? If it will taste better bottled I can do that. If it is all the same I will probably keg it. If some thread already talks about this and I somehow missed it, feel free to just post the URL. Thank you in advance!


10/19/07 10:23 AM  
Re: Priming: Sugar & Yeast Questions
I've been wondering this myself.

First, I think the US-56 would be fine. Although it's not belgian, you're beer already has the character from the primary yeast, and 1056, being a pretty clean yeast, with the small amount you would be adding for bottling, I don't think it would effect the flavor in any real noticeable fashion.

Second, I've been mulling over the difference between natural and forced carbonation as well. What's the difference between a beer forced carbonated and the same beer naturally carbonated to the exact same level of CO2? I always prime with sugar and bottle, as I do not have the ability to keg. But working at a local brewery this summer I noticed that our beers (which were all forced carbonated) seemed to have a different mouthfeel. To me the way the C02 interacts with the beer is physically different. Primarily I notice that the bubbles seem to be much more fine when force carbonated opposed to natural, adding less to the mouthfeel of the beer. With the exception of my very hoppy beers which always have a great smooth creamy head, I notice my more highly carbonated Belgians sometimes have a real strong mouthfeel, with large fizzly bubbles, which helps balance high gravity malty ales. I do believe stronger beers, such as Belgians and others meant for cellaring, are best suited for bottle conditioning. It seems many traditional and specialty Belgian brewers employ this method for bottling as well. I think it's really what you prefer in terms of the end result, but if you want to lay this beer down for a bit I'd lean towards bottling.

10/19/07 10:34 AM  
Re: Priming: Sugar & Yeast Questions
BTW, like Sean, I used 5-6 oz. (in volume measured in a cup, not weight) of priming sugar for most of my beers, and all Belgians (4.75 to 5 gal.). This gives the higher level of carbonation you typically find in Belgians without over-carbonating/creating malty glass bombs. I always used the 5 oz. packs of sugar from the homebrew store, but I think they were weighed out to 5 oz. and not measured out in volume, and I always had way too much carbonation. Since I started doing it myself in the measuring cup it's been fine. Also, in the Joy of Homebrewing, Charlie states to use 1/2 to 3/4 a cup of priming sugar for adequate carbonation.
10/19/07 11:09 AM  
Re: Priming: Sugar & Yeast Questions
I have had very good results fine-tuning carbonation based on the methods in this HBD page:

A Primer on Priming


It is a little more work, but I think it's worthwhile rather than using a generic assumption - I did the 3/4 cup of invert sugar thing for many years to good effect and it is safe, but this allows better control, important if you want to do something like get a Saison to have a big rocky head but stop short of pouring out as a glass of 100% foam.

One issue I have had is to be sure to check actual volume yield of the batch before boiling up / adding the sugar. Calculations based on an assumed 5 gals can put you a bit over where you want to be if your actual yield is, say 4.5 with racking / sediment loss etc. My actual calc notes for a batch look something like this (from a Scotch Ale):

Yield is about 4.25 gal.

Target 2.25 vol CO2.

At 78F/26C, beer has 0.75 vol CO2 dissolved in it already.

So, to reach 2.25, must add approx. 1.5 vol.

1/2 oz sucrose per gal = 1 vol CO2.

So, need 1.5 times 1/2, or about 0.75 grams sucrose per gal.

For 4.25 gal, need 3.18 oz "pure" sucrose.

Need to increase by 1.40 if using liquid malt extract, so need 4.46 oz (weight) of liquid malt extract.

10/19/07 12:54 PM  
Re: Priming: Sugar & Yeast Questions
"At 78F/26C, beer has 0.75 vol CO2 dissolved in it already."

Is this standard or an amount you'vefigured out according to your specific batch of beer? If so, how did you arrive at that calculation?

10/19/07 05:48 PM  
Re: Priming: Sugar & Yeast Questions
BP -

This is per the info on the hbd.org link in my previous post. A section of their page gives solubility of CO2 in beer at various temperatures (0-75 deg F, but you can extrapolate upwards). The cooler the beer, the more gas it contains, so you must offset for this to get to the right carbonation.

10/19/07 06:18 PM  
Re: Priming: Sugar & Yeast Questions
so those are specific rates no matter what the gravity of the beer?
10/20/07 01:49 PM  
Re: Priming: Sugar & Yeast Questions
As far as I know,yes. That is to say this resource doesn't give any information about gravity related to saturation of CO2 in the beer. And my results using the method from this page have been good and pretty consistent.

I think you raise an interesting question, though, which is - does the gravity of a wort affect the amount of CO2 dissolved in it at a given temperature. Maybe somebody here with a more scientific background can respond to that.

However, given the thoroughness of the HBD priming article, I'd think that if it had significant impact the author (Mark Hibberd) would have chosen to address it in some way. A slightly later article by Dave Draper incorporating some of the same information also does not mention it.

( see also hbd.org/ddraper/priming.html )

10/20/07 02:06 PM  
Re: Priming: Sugar & Yeast Questions
Gotcha....cool, thanks for the info.
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