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I have an IPA that is ready to bottle. I don't have any carbonation drops, so I'm considering using table sugar. Apparently 250grams for the 60 bottles of beer in the tub is about right (equivalent to the drops)

How should I add it? Can iI mix it in with some water and open the fermentation tub and pour it in right before i bottle it? That would save dolloping it in to each bottle. Is that the way to go?

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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Go ahead and use table sugar -- it'll work fine to carbonate your beer.

However, 250g seems high to me. This online calculator suggests that 4.6 oz, 130 grams is the right amount, assuming 12 oz bottles.

Your main concerns when adding the priming sugar are sanitation and proper dilution/distribution. If you don't ensure that the priming sugar is properly mixed with the beer, some bottles may carbonate more than others. The differences could be very dramatic.

My technique for bottling is as follows.

  1. Measure the sugar using an accurate scale
  2. Put sugar in a sauce pan and add enough water to barely cover.
  3. Bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 2 minutes.
  4. Pour the sugar syrup into the bottom of the bottling bucket.
  5. Rack the beer from the fermenter into the bottling bucket.
  6. Bottle the beer.

With this technique, there's no need to stir as the turbulence from the racking process is sufficient to distribute the priming sugar solution.

When racking the beer, try to avoid splashing it. This incorporates oxygen and can lead to premature staling. (But since you're bottle conditioning your beer, this is less of a worry since the yeast should consume any introduced oxygen.)

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Thanks. Sounds good. One problem - no bottling bucket. Its going straight from fermentation tub to bottles –  Will Jan 6 '13 at 20:47
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I'd recommend against that. You can't add the priming sugar to the fermenter, as stirring is required but this would rouse the sediment at the bottom -- you don't want that. Your only option is to add the priming sugar directly to the bottles. But now your problem is getting an accurate amount of sugar into each bottle. Since the quantities are so small, accuracy is going to be nearly impossible. My advice is to invest in a food-grade 6 gallon bucket and use it for bottling. An extra bucket is always handy during a brew day anyway. –  Tobias Patton Jan 6 '13 at 21:43
    
OK, thanks. How does the beer go from bucket to the bottles? Fermentation tub to bottles seems straightforward just por in using the anti-splash tap attachment stick thing. seems like i need to go to the store, maybe i should just get the carbonation drops –  Will Jan 7 '13 at 21:00
    
Others may have more sophisticated setups, but I use: a racking tube, PVC line, and a bottle filler. –  Tobias Patton Jan 7 '13 at 21:20
    
Decent homebrew kits have 2 buckets - one for fermenting and one drilled with a spigot for bottling. Assuming you have an undrilled bucket you can get a bottling bucket with spigot for $10-15. That's like nothing in the scheme of homebrew costs, and worth every penny. If you don't have a spigot, attach the bottle filler to the siphon tubing, as Tobias mentioned. –  paul Jan 10 '13 at 22:34
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In addition to Tobias's answer and the comments you could consider buying a set of jewellery scales. They are usually under 50 bucks and measure to 0.1 or 0.01 of a gram. It's overkill for home brewing but if you ever find another reason to buy them then they will come in handy.

I keg my brews but usually bottle 3-4 beers as well. This makes the bottling bucket a bit excessive. I just weigh up 5g or so of sugar and drop it in each bottle. Carb drops are probably simpler but I already had the scales and always forget to buy drops.

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