I noticed my batch in the secondary looks short of 5 gallons, can I top it off with water when I bottle?

4 Answers 4


I wouldn't bother at this point. Just bottle it and drink it when its ready. What's more important is to figure out why you are off and fix your process for next time.


I wouldn't bother, unless you have a specific reason. If you think the beer is too strong and needs to be watered down, go for it. If you are worried because you are a half gallon off, but the beer tastes fine, don't worry about it! I've often been off by a quart or two, and the beer still came out great.

If you do decide to add water, be very careful. Make sure the water is free of microorganisms (bottled water is your best bet) and be careful not to introduce oxygen to the beer (siphon the water in, don't pour it).

  • 3
    I would add that pre-boiling (and subsequently chilling) the water would help to reduce oxygen. Jul 18, 2011 at 2:46
  • Ya, boiling will sanitize the water, and reduce oxygen. I'm not really sure about the O2 content of bottled water. I assume it is low, but does anyone know definitively?
    – pjreddie
    Jul 18, 2011 at 2:47

I had contimplated that myself once before but realized that if you are drastically short there may have been a problem larger with your recipe. If it is only a little short there is more jeopardy of introducing oxygen and other goodies into the brew. Hope that helps...


My first batch was supposed to be 5gal. I primed it as such and realized that I only had 4gal collected in my bottling bucket. I lost the other gallon to poor technique I guess. Anyway, since 4gal carbed as if it was 5gal is significantly different than a normal 5gal carbination, I added a gallon of bottled water at bottling. The beer turned out fine, sort of like a low-alcohol Pale Ale. It was thinner than I wanted, I suppose, but was still tasty.

  • In this case, I would think that you would better off reducing the priming sugar instead of adding more water (unless you had already added it) Jul 18, 2011 at 16:02
  • True, reducing the sugar would have made the final beer closer to the recipe. As it was my first batch, and since I didn't have a scale to measure out 4oz of sugar from the 5oz bag, I just added more water and crossed my fingers.
    – GHP
    Jul 18, 2011 at 16:33

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