using a home brew kit I followed all the initial instructions implicitly, got to the final stage of adding the dried yeast and stirred it in. 4 hours later I realised I had failed to add the sugar which I then did. Question1: Was I too late and should I discard it all? Question2: Even adding the sugar immediately after the yeast does it have a detrimental effect on the brewing process?

  • Can you add some more detail on what the recipe is and what you're making? In most cases for beer you won't want to add the sugar yet at all. That said, you probably haven't ruined anything, it'll just be a matter of what you do from here.
    – thesquaregroot
    Jun 2, 2017 at 1:13
  • Its a Wilko 'Light Delicate Pilsner'. Instructions state clearly to stand the can in hot water for 5 minutes, pour contents into the sterilised fermenter, then add 1KG (2.2lbs) of sugar. I forgot to do that and went straight to adding boiled water, then cold up to the 23 litre (40 pint) mark. Then added the packet yeast, gentle stirred and loosely put the lid on top. 4 hours later saw the sugar on the shelf and said s**t. Added the brewing sugar, gently stirring it. Replaced lid (loosely). Checked this morning and by the appearance on the top 'something' is happening!
    – bruce
    Jun 2, 2017 at 8:58
  • Fingers crossed it will work out. Thank you all for your expert opinions and guidance. This is my second attempt at home brewing and each time I have screwed up in one way or another. Practice makes perfect, its said, so hopefully the third attempt will go to plan.
    – bruce
    Jun 2, 2017 at 14:03
  • I don't think you have screwed up - just added one of the ingredients a bit late. It wouldn't be the first time and it will not be the last in the history of home brewing! And finally manufacturers are waking up to the fact you don't have to boil the malt extract! Well done Wilko (and others too). Jun 3, 2017 at 5:17
  • Do not discard No harm has been done. The Suger is what gets the Fermentation started. Your fermentation time will be delayed. As long as your wort didn't get to cold you should be okay. Four hour delay is not detrimental to the overall health of the yeast. Jul 18, 2017 at 21:22

5 Answers 5


Its perfectly fine to boil the sugar up in some water now and add it. Many people do just that for certain bigger beers. As long as the yeast are chugging away when you add the sugar all should be well. I would try not to exceed an additional volume of a quart or so. Boil the sugar in two cups if possible. The boiling will sanitize the solution and also drive out much of the oxygen.

  • The instructions do not mention boiling the sugar but just to add it straight after adding the contents of the can. Immediately after that add 6 pints of boiling water followed by additional cold water followed by the yeast. I suppose adding the packet of brewers sugar after the yeast may possibly have added bacteria if present in the pack before opening it?
    – bruce
    Jun 2, 2017 at 11:53
  • @bruce the addition of boiling water after the adjuncts is by design to at least reach a pasteurization temp of the adjuncts. If you've already pitched yeast, then allow your boiled sugar water to cool to room temp first. Cover/seal with foil while hot and let cool. Jun 2, 2017 at 13:30
  • 1
    No need to boil - just pasteurise by dissolving in boiled water (while its still hot). The main point is to add minimum water otherwise the beer might be noticeably diluted. Jun 3, 2017 at 5:13
  • I think what you describe would be much later, like a week. He's only talking about 4 hours.
    – Wyrmwood
    Jun 5, 2017 at 21:20

Q1: Maybe. Usually no. But in this case infection may have been introduced. Only time will tell. Let it ferment and see how it turns out.

Q2: Adding the sugar 4 hours after a pitch usually has little effect on the yeast. But if the addition wasn't sanitary it could introduce another microbe that could become dominate.

Adding adjucts that soon after a pitch needs to be sanitary (boiled then cooled) since there's no alcohol in the wort yet to inhibit bad microbes.


Adding sugar 4 hours after adding the yeast to a made up beer kit wort will not necessarily ruin the beer - I would even say it most probably would not ruin the beer. The odds are that the beer will turn out well so I would not recommend discarding it. In fact many "not so good" beers will improve immensely over 6 months conditioning in a bottle.

The only real problems with adding sugar directly into a beer wort is making it dissolve fully and a small possibility that the dry sugar is carrying some spoiling agent (bacteria). That too need not be fatal and I would not reject the batch just because of this.

My advice in all such circumstances is to finish the brewing process, bottle (or keg) the beer, condition it for some time and see how it turns out. Sometimes beers made "perfectly" are not that impressive and some made "badly" turn out to be the best ever.


As everyone else has mentioned, I wouldn't worry about it. The only thing I would be mildly concerned about is contamination. With that being said, there isn't anything you can do about it now except wait and see. I also would've taken gravity readings after adding the sugar so that alcohol can be accurately measured in the final product. Whatever though, no big deal. It's just something to keep in mind next time.


Don't worry about this type of mistake. During my second kit brew I forgot to add the sugar until a day later! It all worked out fine. I am told that brewers of some particular styles (eg.strong Belgian ales) prefer the addition of sugar in stages rather than all at the start.

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