I have recently ran out of Carbonation Drops that I have exclusively used in the past. I decided to use sugar and put a heaping teaspoon of sugar in every bottle. Two unexpected things happened, the beer did not carbonate totally and the beer tasted really sweet.

What can be done to avoid this in the future. I have a keg system now, so I do not expect to ever use sugar to carbonate again, unless I can control the taste or use the drops.

What can be done to make sure the sugar does not affect the taste and will carbonate the brew?

  • Can you give us some details about the beer you brewed and the fermentation process? It's possible something prevented re-fermentation.
    – uSlackr
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 14:13
  • Did you shake the capped bottles well? The sugar has to be mixed...
    – Philippe
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 15:26
  • 2
    How long have you left them to carb up?
    – Mr_road
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 19:03
  • 1
    @uSlackr so I commented on the answer, but basically I needed to allow the bottles to ferment longer and there was a high alcohol content that made them take longer to condition. Letting the bottles sit longer allowed them to be perfect, I must have been impatient with the beer, so be patient!!!
    – Robbye Rob
    Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 17:07

5 Answers 5


Your beer is sweeter because the yeast did not ferment all the sugar.

Once the sugar is fermented, the sweetness should dissappear.

The reason could be:

  • Not enough yeast left (specially if your filter)
  • Did not allow to ferment enough time
  • Sugar not mixed in the bottle
  • Temperature is not adequate for fermentation
  • Not enough air in the bottle (yeast needs a bit of air, try not to overfill the bottles, leave about an inch of air)
  • Too much sugar added
  • Too high level of alcool (some yeast have a lower tolerance)

If you check this list you will certainly find the reason.

  • Benf and Philippe have hit the mark. I may have more alcohol than normal on this batch, since that is what I was going for. I did set out to have a high ABV and if I do drink a bottle, you can taste the alcohol.
    – Robbye Rob
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 14:06
  • 1
    A few months later, the beer tasted wonderful and everyone liked it. The sugar was not exactly all the way fermented into carbonation so waiting longer allowed it to bottle right... I now melt sugar into the mix and rack it to the bottles. My keg is reserved for the good stuff...
    – Robbye Rob
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 19:57

Priming for carbonation should not make your beer any sweeter. It never has in my experience.

The reason for this is that the sugar you add for priming is added in such a quantity that it will be 100% converted by the residual yeast into CO2 leaving no sugar to sweeten the beer. (It will for a few days make the beer a little sweeter until it has been fermented.)

  • Unless of course he had no yeast left to ferment. I've asked him to add some details.
    – uSlackr
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 14:14
  • That is a fair point, but it is rather hard without filtration to get all the yeast out.They may just be taking their time.
    – Mr_road
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 19:02
  • True, but if it lagered a while there might not be much left. Or he might not have let it sit long enough to refrement.
    – uSlackr
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 20:34

Why was the beer sweet?

  1. It wasn't carbonated- CO2 tastes kind of bitter, which is partly why soda pop has so much sugar in it. The carbonation will make your beer taste less sweet, too.
  2. If it didn't carbonate, then the sugar you added is still in there.
  3. A "heaping teaspoon" is probably too much. A level tsp is probably fine for most beers; that's about 6oz for 48 12oz bottles.

Why didn't it carbonate?

The yeast converts sugars to CO2 and alcohols, with a little help from some O2. So what causes it not to?

  1. Not enough sugars (obviously, not your problem).
  2. Not enough O2. I'm pretty sure this is rarely a problem. If you are leaving an inch of headspace in the bottles that has room air, that is probably more than enough.
  3. Not enough viable yeast. If your beer is big (high OG) and there is a lot of alcohol in the beer, or the beer has been in the fermenter or secondary for as long time (multiple months) it could be that most of the yeast cells are not viable. In that case, you can add a pinch of dry yeast to each bottle. I usually add champagne yeast for beers with an OG of 1.080 or higher.
  4. You didn't wait long enough. If the bottles are stored in a cold area, or one of the above items are true, it could take a lot longer than 2 weeks to carbonate.

It is also worth noting that 'carbonation drops' are just a pre-measured amount of sugar, IIRC.


My answer is that adding sugar for carbonation doesnt make the beer sweeter. I use sugar most of the time for carbonation, and sometimes carbonate inside the keg with CO2 and the result is the same.

The difference is not appreciable,in my case i carbonate with 7grs per litre.


No . half a teaspoon in 12 ounces has never changed anything for me . The sweetness you are looking for in beer comes from the malt . A very sweat beer are not fermented all the way .Now one teaspoon of a heavy molasses sweetener like brown sugar or unprocessed sugar, honey would change it . But exploding caps is a problem .

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