Priming Your Drink

We have to decide whether we are bottling, barrelling or using a Cornelius Keg. Once the decision is made:

Carbonation happens when the fermentation has finished by adding more sugar to the beer. The yeast thinks it's finished converting all the sugar into alcohol (gives off CO2 Gas when it’s doing this) and has done its job but we trick it by adding more sugar which in turn wakes the yeast up which now starts to work again. It will turn the new sugar we have added into alcohol (this will only adjust the alcohol content by a small amount) and give of CO2 which is the carbonation. This is why we must leave it in a warm place (20 to 25C). It's important whatever the Equipment we use that it is clean and sterilised before use. The Love Brewing Cleaner/Steriliser and No Rinse Sterilisers are perfect for this. For easy of bottling look at the bottle washer and bottling trees.

Bottling the Beer/Lager/Cider

This is always my preferred option as this way we end up with an excellent level of carbonation in the bottle and it’s like a Commercial Cider or Lager or Craft beer bought in the pubs. You will not achieve this level from a barrel. You can also put the bottles in a fridge for chilling which we can’t do with a barrel (unless you have a special fridge for this). Make sure all the bottles you use are designed to hold pressure. Most PET bottles (like the short that have had fizzy drinks in) are suitable. Glass Beer bottles need to be the heavy type and will take a crown cap. My favourite are the Grolsch style with the flip top lids.

At the end of fermentation decide if adding finings see below.
Dissolve 150gms of the priming sugar (Beerworks and Ciderworks have this included in the pack) in 350ml of water (making 400ml in total) and then add 9ml of solution to each 500ml bottle or pro rata and seal the bottles. We sell syringes so say the 20ml size will do two bottles at a time and will take about 3 minutes to do 40 bottles. So people who say this is far too time consuming aren’t doing it right (or haven’t got the right equipment). What seems to be popular is batch prime (add all the sugar to the bucket) but we don’t advise this as this causes all sorts of problems with even distribution. Some bottles will have high levels of sugar and others will have lower levels even if you think this has been well mixed.

Try the little bottler for making it easier to bottle your beer.
Leave in a warm place (20 to 25C) for 5 days and then transfer to a cool place to clear. Squeeze the bottles as these will be hard if it’s done its job. Beer in bottles will usually take less time to clear than in a barrel but still allow about 3 weeks.

Barrelling Beer/Lager/Cider

Beer in a pressure barrel won’t produce any more than about 10 psi. Normal level will be nearer to 5psi and will be similar to the carbonation you would expect from a hand pulled beer in the pubs (Real Ale). Make sure your barrel is designed to hold pressure and has a suitable pressure release valve fitted to it. We get more problems from barrels which don’t hold pressure than anything so please check this first before starting. No good complaining you have no carbonation pressure if the barrel leaks.

We don’t recommend barrels for Lager as the carbonation level isn’t sufficient to give it a good fizz. Dissolve 100gms of the priming sugar( Beerworks and Ciderworks have this included in the pack which is 150gm so you can add it all or reduce it to 100gm its doesn’t matter) in a little hot water and stir to dissolve. Add this liquid to the barrel and transfer your beer (if you have already put the beer in the barrel add and try and give it a bit of a stir/shake. Seal the keg and leave in a warm place (20 to 25C) for 5 days and then transfer to a cool place to clear. After the 5 days you can turn the tap on you will have some nice pressure on the beer. If there has been too much carbonation then the pressure release valve on the barrel should have kicked in. The beer can take about 4 weeks to clear. You will also find when you switch the tap on you might have a small build up of sediment behind it which can make the first glass appear cloudy.

Cornelius Keg

Now you are talking my absolutely favourite keg. These are designed to really hold pressure (up to 50psi) so whatever you have made these will do the job. For this we don’t use any priming sugar at all. We need to add some finings at the end of fermentation (see below) and once its cleared the beer we can then transfer the bright beer to the Cornelius Keg. Seal the keg and add some carbonation from the gas bottles. If you chill the keg with the beer and shake it with the gas this will help to get higher levels of carbonation into the liquid if that’s what you want. We need the beer to be nearly clear as the tube for dispensing drops down to the bottom of the Keg and draws the beer up from here. If it's dropped out a lot of sediment you might find you waste the first few pints.


We always must remember that finings will strip out flavour colour body bouquet and taste so they should be used sparingly. If you need your beer in a rush, you can add finings either at the end of fermentation (my preference) by adding finings to the bucket and leaving for 24-36 hours. This makes the beer fairly clear. The clearing time after priming will be reduced. Alternatively, you can add the finings to the bucket prior to bottling. Don’t just add them for the sake of it because all the modern beer kits are designed to clear on their own either in bottles or a barrel.

The beerworks finings are based on Isinglass and are the same as used by most commercial brewers. They are quite mild.