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I must have been really lucky with my yeasts so far but usually my beers turned out nicely carbonated without any priming. The last batch though is really flat. Is it still possible to prime in the bottle, i.e. open the bottle insert the desired amount of sugar and leave it to carbonate?

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If your beers are carbonating without priming you are clearly not letting the beer finish fermenting in the primary. It sounds like this time as your techniques got better this one finished out prior to bottling. On the whole though, you should be finishing the beers completely in the fermentor. Its just to variable a techinique to try and bottle actively fermenting beer. And sort of dangerous for the novice. I think you've been lucky thus far. –  brewchez Apr 13 '10 at 13:30
    
Again, this is like a "scale-down" from what I learned in the brewery I have worked for. Then they were of course conducting the complete fermentation/conditioning cycle in pressurized tanks - huge ones too. So, I guess, size DOES matter, eh?! –  Tobi Apr 13 '10 at 17:15
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up vote 8 down vote accepted

On my first batch I had the following issue: knowing very little about brewing and even more about what "fermentable sugars" are, I primed used raw cane sugar I had first burned into caramel, for some extra taste. The result, of course, was a beer with almost no alcohol. I discussed this with more experienced home brewers and what they advised me was the following: dilute the wanted amount of sugar in as little water as possible,boil it for sanitation, sanitise new caps, open all your bottles and pour the corresponding amount of sugarwater in each using a simple syringe,then recap. It worked just fine, my beer carbonated normally and I didn't have any contamination issues at all. Go for it!

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Thats a pretty good way to do it. –  brewchez Apr 13 '10 at 13:28
    
I'd also like to add that if you syringes are sterilised (even better than sanitised) so no fear of contamination from there. Plus it's an easy way to measure small quantities. –  Tetragrammaton Apr 13 '10 at 17:10
    
I'm a little late to the game, but I would add that carb tabs, which are essentially sugar pills with dextrin added, are also a good remedy, and are a little easier to add. –  Brandon Dec 13 '10 at 18:06
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