Some of my bottles usually turn out over carbonated, and some turn out under carbonated. Is there a good technique to get consistent carbonation? I imagine it is a function of both evenly distributed priming sugar and also the yeast. The latter might be more difficult to achieve since it settles a bit during bottling?

7 Answers 7

  1. weigh your priming sugar, don't measure the volume
  2. boil it in just enough water to dissolve it for a few minutes
  3. pour that sugar syrup into your bottling bucket
  4. rack the beer onto the sugar mixture
  5. give it a couple gentle stirs with a sanitized spoon

That works for me. Hopefully it will work for you, too!

  • Thanks, this is exactly what I am doing, but I still somehow get a few bottles that foam like crazy and a few bottles that taste a bit flat. I guess it is just the nature of the beast. Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 15:44
  • @jmpreiks: Which temperature you mix the priming with the beer in the bucket ? Very low temperature is more difficult to dissolve the priming in the bucket.
    – Luciano
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 20:51
  • The priming sugar is already dissolved in the boiled solution from step 2. I let it cool a bit in the bottling bucket before adding the beer to the bucket, but not so much that the sugar will start dropping out of solution. But I guess that could be a pitfall, if you don't boil the sugar in enough water, it will recrystallize as it cools (before adding beer) and might be difficult to mix properly with the beer. Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 19:31

The yeast that carbonates your beer should already be in suspension, that is, invisible without a microscope. So, unless you've filtered the beer, don't worry about the yeast. Don't stir up the yeast cake either, those might not be very happy/tasty.

But, you should stir the sugar into the beer to get good carbonation, as discussed here and in many other questions. I gently stir several times with my sanitized racking cane, to get most of the beer visibly turning, before I slowly add my sugar. Works quite well and if a bit of the yeast cake gets picked up it seems to drop right out again.

Other other hand, if you do need to add a yeast for conditioning, just stir it into the beer as you would with the sugar.


Rack your beer out of the fermenter into a sanitised bottling bucket, which could just be another fermenter, where the beer is evenly mixed with all your priming sugar before being bottled straight from there.

Normally the under / over carbonation issue is caused by differing amounts of priming sugar added to each bottle when priming the bottle individually. This extra stage ensures even distribution of priming sugar and yeast throughout the batch so the bottles are much more consistent.


Before I switched to kegs, the easiest and most reliable method I found was to siphon off some of the beer (typically a litre or so), warm it in a saucepan, and dissolve the appropriate amount of priming sugar. I used dextrose or some other invert sugar since it seems more likely to ferment out thoroughly, and less likely to impart off flavors.

Of course I let the priming liquid cool before gently stirring it back into the main batch.

[ edit: Oops, I just noticed Denny Conn beat me by about 8 minutes. I'll let this stand for whatever it's worth. ]

  • Sorry but I really can't see the benefit of this over using water to dissolve the sugar. It seems like it's more work, and is likely harmful to the beer (potential for oxidation, yeast stress by heat, bacterial exposure at incubating temperatures, &c.). Even if it only affects 5% of a 5 gal. batch, the water route just seems so much easier, and less detrimental to boot. Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 15:56
  • I did it this way for a couple of reasons: my very first home brewing book (The Art of Making Beer, by Stanley Anderson) recommended it.
    – Glasseyed
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 16:23
  • I accidentally posted the previous, then was unable to edit/finish my comment. I kept, and still keep, my carboys topped right up, and I used to bottle straight from the carboy without using a 'bottling bucket'. This virtually eliminated any chance of oxidation in the main batch. If the small amount of priming liquid was oxidized, I couldn't taste it. So for me, it was no more trouble than the bottling bucket method.
    – Glasseyed
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 16:36
  • I didn't mean to deride your choice of methods at all. If it works to your satisfaction that's all good. I just wanted to point out the potential pitfalls to moving your beer into the open air and heating it up, which for me is pretty far from ideal, especially when there's an easy alternative which avoids having to do so. What really matters is how it affects the finished beer, and if there's no/minimal noticeable detriment for you, that's all good too. Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 16:59
  • No worries. If I used the now-standard bottling bucket method, water would make excellent sense. The fact is, it's probably been 30-odd years since I switched from bottles to kegs. :-)
    – Glasseyed
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 19:49

You probably want to make sure that you put equal amount of sugar in each bottle... I guess, the best way is to use a syringe.


I have had the same problem, quite a few times. Different bottles haveing different levels of bubbling. I think it could come down to the 'conditioning', be careful to adhere to the guidlines for each type of beer, once in the bottles a lot of different science comes into play, light, temperature, vibration, and time all need to be carefully managed. Light being key to my problem at first. The yeasts need time to eat the priming sugar and give the right mix of bubbles and head, so if i get a brew which is clear yet a bit dead i just give it some more time to sort itself out. In the end , it is your creation, a beer, and it is what it is, try not to compare it to others and enjoy it for what it is.


There is a chart that provides this info. I use sugar cubes for consistency. http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.kegoutlet.com/media/uploads_ckeditor/Carbonatin-Chart.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.kegoutlet.com/keg-carbonation-chart.html&h=741&w=960&tbnid=MlpE8A_fRys_XM:&zoom=1&docid=2lDqdYiB4YtYLM&ei=74sTVa7FD4uyogSN3YGYDA&tbm=isch&client=ms-android-hms-tmobile-us&ved=0CB0QMygAMAA

  • This is mostly helpful for targeting the right carbonation level, but not so much for troubleshooting bottle-to-bottle differences from the same batch. Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 12:10
  • Dude, I use sugar cubes for that, or mixing sugar before bottling
    – Luis Ramos
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 12:58
  • 1
    OK, if you have advice you could share about improving consistency I'd suggest you edit it into your answer to make it more relevant to the question that was asked. Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 13:09

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