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How To Batch Prime with Mr Beer Kegs

February 17, 2011

I’ve learned a lot since I started home brewing, and one of the most important lessons I learned was that batch priming your home brew is a godsend.

Batch priming involves boiling sugar in water, and then adding the resulting sanitized sugar water to your wort before you bottle. This way, the sugar is dispersed evenly throughout all the bottles, and you don’t have to worry about the painstaking task of adding sugar to each individual bottle. It also takes the headache out of figuring just how much sugar to use in each bottle if you’re using different sizes.

Because they’re what I use to brew, this post is obviously going to be centered around batch priming with Mr Beer kegs. The technique is the same for batch priming larger brews, but there are some obvious differences such as amount of ingredients and some of the tools involved.

Tools

Bottling paraphernalia. Notice the old school metal bench capper.

You’ll need the following tools and ingredients to successfully batch prime:

  • 2.5+ gallon container (This can be a standard bottling bucket, extra Mr Beer keg or this excellent jug I found at Walmart for $6. Most importantly, this container needs to have a spigot.)
  • Mr Beer keg equipped with a locking spigot
  • Bottling wand to fit the Mr Beer locking spigot
  • Small pot with cover
  • Instant-read thermometer
  • Sanitizer (One-Step, Iodophor, whatever sanitizer you use)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup corn sugar (You can use regular table sugar, or even DME, but the amount will change depending on what you use.)

Technique

Here is my process:

  1. Fill your batch priming container (in this case my extra Mr Beer keg) with warm water and sanitizing solution. Shake the water around so it sanitizes everything.
  2. While your container is sanitizing, boil your 1/2 cup of cane sugar in 1 cup of water. Once it comes to a rolling boil, let it continue for a minute or so.
  3. When the sugar water is finished boiling, cover it and put it in the freezer so it cools down to about 75-80 degrees. You don’t want it to be too hot and kill the yeast.

    The temp is just right.

  4. Now you should take the time to sanitize your bottles and other equipment as you would normally do. I usually run the sanitized water from my batch priming container through the spigot and bottling wand down into the bottles. I also save a little extra water in a bowl to sanitize the bottle caps.
  5. Empty any leftover sanitized water from the batch priming container.
  6. When the sugar water comes down to about 75-80 degrees, pour it into your (now empty) batch priming container.
  7. Transfer the wort from your Mr Beer keg into the batch priming container. This is also known as racking. I do this using the locking spigot and bottling wand, but you can also use a racking tube/cane if you prefer. Take care to minimize splashing and extra movement of the wort as much as possible during this step. You don’t want any extra oxygen to enter the wort. Don’t shake it around to mix the solution either, the action of transferring the wort itself is enough to ensure an even distribution.

    Batch priming with a little help from some friends. I have it set up so there's enough pressure on the tip of the wand to keep it flowing automatically.

  8. Use your batch priming container’s spigot and bottling wand (or racking tube/cane) to continue bottling your beer.

    Time to bottle!

See, it’s not so bad!

The beer I’m bottling in this tutorial is my “Polack Pilsner”, which is not actually a true Pilsner. I used Mr Beer Pilothouse Pilsner HME, light DME, and Saaz hops, but I didn’t lager it or use lager yeast. It’s basically just gonna be a pale ale with Saaz hops, but I like the name I came up with so I’m sticking with it!

Here are some more pictures from my bottling day extravaganza:

Filling the priming container. Notice that there's no splashing going on at all.

This metal bench capper is a hand-me-down from my dad. I love it.

All capped and ready to condition for a month!

I hope this little tutorial has been useful to those of you who home brew with the Mr Beer kegs. And, for those of you who don’t, I hope you’ve at least been informed and entertained!

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