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I'm probably being too paranoid here, but what's the best way to make sure the priming sugar (I tend to use corn sugar boiled in a few cups of water for 5 minutes and then cooled) is thoroughly mixed into the beer without oxidizing it? I'm afraid if I agitate it too much I'm going to oxidize it and add off-flavors, but I've had some batches where the bottles are unevenly primed. My current process is to pour the 70-80F sugar solution into a carboy, then rack the beer from the secondary on top of it. I then stop up the new carboy and rock it for 30 seconds or so.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I always boil and cool my priming sugar solution and add half of it to the bottling bucket. I rack about half of the beer into the bucket and then add the rest of the priming solution as the remainder of the beer is flowing.

Afterwards, I use a [sanitized] brew spoon to very gently stir the beer in the bottling bucket. As long as you avoid churning it and don't introduce bubbles, you'll be fine. Yes, there's always a slight risk of infection, but as long as the spoon is properly sanitized you're not risking a whole lot, and I'd much rather make sure the priming sugar is evenly distributed than risk bottle bombs later on.

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The two methods I've used have been:

  • Put the sugar solution in the bottling bucket, then rack carefully to that from the fermenter. The movement of the incoming beer is plenty to mix in the sugar.
  • Siphon or carefully pour the sugar solution on top of the beer, then stir it with a sanitized spoon very slowly for ~5 minutes.
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Wow... I think you should get the Patient Brewer award. Stirring for 5 minutes? I just do a couple of swishes with the racking cane. – Jeff Roe Nov 10 '10 at 23:08

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