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If you are bottling still, or force carbonating, you can presumably kill the yeast and then add sugar/syrup/honey/fruit juice to sweeten (though I don't know how).

But if you are bottle-fermenting then adding additional sugar will merely drive up the alcohol until a)the sugar is all gone b)the alcohol is so high it kills the yeast c)things go BANG

Is there any easy way around this problem, or it it an inherent limitation of bottle-fermentation?

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Put in an unfermentable sugar prior to carbonating, like lactose.

Or sweeten it, carbonate in the the bottle and then pasteurize in a dishwasher to kill the yeast before it consumes all the sugars. Obviously you'd need to do this in glass bottles and it the right temperature.

Personally, the single time I've made bottle carbonated cider I was perfectly happy sweetening it in the glass with some apple juice. Freaking awesome to drink on a hot day.

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  • I didn't know you could pasteurise post-bottling. Any chance you might be able to expand on that in your answer - I'm a bit worried this could go badly wrong? – Mr. Boy Sep 15 '15 at 11:12
  • I don't think I'd try pasteurizing. Too much that could go wrong. – Denny Conn Sep 15 '15 at 19:38
  • I've never done it myself. You need to hit 160F for a few minutes to do it properly. And you'd want to be very sure of the quality of your bottles. – nemmy Sep 15 '15 at 22:25
  • @nemmy that is my fear, no idea what the pressure is doing at that temperature. – Mr. Boy Sep 16 '15 at 8:40
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Yes, it's an inherent limitation. But you can always sweeten in the glass if you like.

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  • A shame. Although a thought... could you add a non-sugar sweetener? e.g. what people put in coffee when on a diet, or used in diet soda? – Mr. Boy Sep 15 '15 at 8:17
  • You could use something non fermentable like Splenda. Assuming you like that stuff! – Denny Conn Sep 15 '15 at 15:55
  • I've also heard of people using xylitol, but it can cause some...let's say, "less-than-desirable digestive side-effects" after a couple bottles – valverij Sep 16 '15 at 16:22
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Bottle fermentation? That sounds like option C... Did you mean bottle conditioning?

You can kill yeast by adding potassium sorbate or by pasturising the beer/cider. Then you can add whatever.

OR You can also use sugars that yeast cannot eat, like lactose.

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  • Bottle conditioning is bottle fermentation (well, includes it) if you want non-flat beer/mead. I guess the problem with killing the yeast and adding sugar is you have to open the bottle and this will let all the fizz out? – Mr. Boy Sep 15 '15 at 8:16
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    I thought you were doing the whole fermentation in a bottle, which would obviously give you great bottle bombs! If you use non-fermentable sugars then you can add them to the boil or fermenter. Yes, adding sugar post genocide would mean losing some of the CO2. Maybe consider overcarbonating the beers AND adding the extra sugar to a beer that is near freezing to minimize the amount of CO2 that escapes. Also... adding sugar crystals to a carbonated drink causes it to foam, so make sure you add a liquid to the beer, not any solids. – Atron Seige Sep 15 '15 at 9:08

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