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So I think I'm oxygenating my beer a little when I transfer it to the bottling bucket to bulk prime.

First thing I can do is use a tighter-fitting hose - I think I'm using 8mm diameter hose instead of 6, so some air gets dragged in. It's certainly not a tight fit, so getting a tight-fitting hose is an easy fix.

Other than that, is purging a bottling bucket a thing people do? I'm imagining using a Soda-Stream canister or similar and some kind of special valve to release some CO2 into the bottling bucket before transfer. Where would I start looking for such a valve?

I'm not going to bother purging bottles of oxygen, that would be too much of a pain. Looking for the easy wins on this one!

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Hmm, another option might be to use something similar to the little CO2 canisters used to inflate bike tyres. I wonder how many uses I'd get from each ...

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I don't see any point in purging anything. The CO2 won't do what you are thinking it will, it will simply mix with the air already in there and not be of any use.

I think kegs are probably the only thing you can do a proper oxygen free transfer with because they can be effectively purged prior to filling by completely filling them with water (or sanitiser solution), and pushing it all out with CO2, thereby completely filling the keg with CO2. Then you transfer the beer in through the out post, relieving pressure as necessary. 

I think with the bottles, just be as careful as you can with the transfer, and get that smaller hose size. I did plenty of batches with the bottling bucket method and they were all fine. 

 

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I was of the opinion a little oxygen would get eaten through the referment process. I certainly haven't had any issues with oxygenation when bottling.

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Rather than fully purging I was hoping to create a small base layer of CO2 at the bottom by gently releasing it, but you're probably right about it mixing with air, and any disturbance (eg taking my hand out afterwards) would probably ruin it anyway.

Smaller hose will do for now

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Exactly. You can't create a layer like that unless it's in a completely still and undisturbed environment. Even then it would have to sit for some time in order for the gases to stratify. 

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Posted (edited)

Then again, maybe I could get it in through the little hole in the lid and poke the hose through after that? Might be enough to go from 21% oxygen to a substantially lower number

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Edited by King Ruddager

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It'd be a lot of faffing around for no benefit. Just don't splash the beer around during bottling, get the caps on quickly and you will be very unlikely to have any problems. There's really no need to go to the trouble of purging anything with CO2.

I don't even do the closed transfer with kegs and I have no oxidation problems, although I have considered it. The only thing I do is purge as much oxygen as I can from the keg headspace, because I don't do the secondary fermentation.  

 

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If it is a concern then I would think a closed transfer from fermenter to keg and then bottle whatever you need would work. They have cheap ways to keg and bottle know, no need for an expansive bottling wand...I guess, I have never used the method so I am partially talking out my...But it is an option that would utilise your existing keg set up with only a bottle filler cap needed, so probably easier, cheaper and a quicker method to try.

 

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If your worried about oxidisation then the easiest way is to ferment in the keg. 0% chance of any oxygen. Beer is carbed when its finished. Chuck it on a tap. First schooner is yeast then your good after that.

Seriously though you have to be trying to oxidise your beers. If your bottling you have to be splashing the crap out of it to put enough oxygen in it for the secondary ferment not to clean it up and if your kegging as kelsey says you just purge the headspace after you fill it.

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I simply bottle out of the FV tap through a wand, add the measure of sugar, then cap.

Why bulk prime? What's the advantage? My bottling process takes 30 minutes max for 27 bottles.

Oxidisation...schmoxidisation... 🤪

Cheers

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I do like @Worthog.  Tried bulk priming once.  The actual bottling was quick, but with all the mucking around before and after, I have not gone back to do it again.

I even decant the last 3L via the wand into a sanitised glass pyrex jug and pour it into a couple of bottles.  Between the open jug and the pouring into the bottles, this last 3L gets exposed to plenty of oxygen.  However, I have not noticed a difference between these beers at drinking time.

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The main reason I bulk primed was because I used different sized bottles, mostly stubbies but a few pints as well. I also didn't do much prep. The solution was made up in 2 minutes. The bottling bucket was just rinsed in hot water along with the transfer hose, then filled it up and bottled. Ready to go in under 10 minutes.

Everyone's different. I preferred doing that prep once on bottling day, rather than measuring sugar for 60 odd bottles. 

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41 minutes ago, Otto Von Blotto said:

The bottling bucket was just rinsed in hot water along with the transfer hose

You didn't sanitise them? 

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13 minutes ago, porschemad911 said:

You didn't sanitise them? 

That's it.  I sanitised the secondary, the tap, the transfer hose.  Boiled and cooled the bulk prime water/sugar mix.  Did the transfer to secondary.

Then the bottling was great.

Then cleaned the secondary, tap and transfer hose.

All in all it took longer.

I also bottle into different sized bottles (1500, 750, 740, 500, 450, 375, 330) for any batch.  Bulk priming comes into its own dealing with the different bottle size issue.  All the other effort made me think I can use a 1 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon and 1/4 teaspoon measure to get the right amount of sugar into each bottle with an easier overall effort.

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2 hours ago, porschemad911 said:

You didn't sanitise them? 

Not always but even then it only took a minute or so to spray the bucket, hose and tap. The bottles never saw starsan at all. They were already clean and dry, nothing was going to be growing on/in them. Never had one infected bottle in the 3 or so years I did it. 

Also, the priming solution was never cooled deliberately. I figured there was 25 litres of zero degree beer being mixed with ~300mL of priming solution so why waste the time. Sometimes I'd make it up at bottling time, other times I'd make it up when I made my morning coffee and it would sit there (covered) while I had breakfast. Neither made any difference to the beer.

Overall I felt the little bit of extra cleaning was easier than mucking around with teaspoons into that many bottles. It took about 30-35 minutes to fill and cap all the bottles for a batch, plus the 10 or so minutes extra for transferring, cleaning etc. To be honest I reckon measuring out sugar into 60-70 bottles would have taken longer overall.

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You could be right.  I never actually timed the difference.  I just felt it took longer.

But it might be like taking a short cut through back streets, instead of driving through stop-start traffic on main roads:  Although you are driving slower through the back streets, it feels like you get there faster because at least you are moving.

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What off flavours / symptoms are you noticing?

I believe Greeny is right: secondary fermentation should clean up any oxygen picked up during bottling. It is one of the advantages of bottle conditioning.

Try a tighter fitting hose. If that doesn't solve your problem, maybe reevaluate.

Just out of curiosity, at what temperature are you storing your beer? How old is it when you drink it? Do you bottle in PET? How old are they? How are the caps?

Cheers,

Christina.

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Posted (edited)

That's a lot of questions @ChristinaS1!

Possible unfreshness, ok, ambient shed (currently cold), two weeks to 6 months, yes, different, in good condition.

Edited by King Ruddager

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More importantly, what are you tasting or smelling in the finished beer to make you think it's oxidised?

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That's a pretty vague description though. Stale? Personally I think that would more likely be caused by too much break material in the fermenter. 

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One sign of oxidation is premature loss of late hop aroma and flavour. Is that happening? 

If you are storing beer in a shed in the summer, it can become stale within days, but at 20C or lower, two weeks is not going to result in noticeable oxidation. 

If you are getting "unfreshness" that quickly at this time of year, it is probably being caused by something else. 

Cheers,

Christina.

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