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Carbonation Drops - Yay Or Nay?

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odo5435

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There are lots and lots of threads with comments like "Drops are crap" or "Drops produce Coca-Cola fizzy" or & etc. One or two of them (oddly not very many - why make a comment like that if you've not got something better to suggest?) say that bulk priming is the only way to go. In the absence of cheap but accurate weighing devices at the 6 gram level there are not a lot of alternatives if you are bottling a brew.

But none of the threads actually describe what is wrong with "Coca-Cola fizzy" (aren't bubbles a good thing?) or what it is that bulk priming adds to the finished product that the drops do not. Can someone point me to a thread or a web page that discusses exactly what the difference is?

Why should I not use carbonation drops? :huh:

By the very nature of the question I'm anticipating subjective replies (if any) but it'd be really appreciated if you would include some evidence that proves your preference one way or the other.

:beer:
 

citizensnips

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I can only imagine coca cola fizzy is referring to that sharp almost flavour killing fizziness you can get which I have deinetely got before using drops. Personally when I used drops they were pretty bloody average, I had all different bottles which meant differences sizes so I ended up with a few fairly different carbonated beers. If your doing your first brew maybe use drops, but even then id say individually prime them with sugar. Otherwise for the cost of bulk priming (some dextrose and a bottling bucket) it is a huge improvement you can make plus it's a hell of a lot easier, you get a much more uniformed batch as well, not all different types. I would never use carbonation drops again, I recon there a waste of time....but that's just my opinion. If you really want to use drops just use them and see how you go, then bulk prime a batch and compare.
 

Mardoo

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I can only guess they're referring to a sharpness of the fizz, and too much. Never used the term myself. I just have a hard time getting the "right" amount of fizz with drops. It always seems to be either too much or too little. They're awesomely easy to work with, and I love that, but I have gotten tired of waiting for my beers to gas off after pouring 'til the carb was right. I find them particularly hard to work with if I'm trying to dial in what I think is the right amount of fizz for a recipe. I feel like the flavor-killing thing eddy22 refers to is a real thing. Some people don't.

I guess it really depends on what you're looking for in brewing. How into the whole process are you? IMHO bulk priming gives you a whole lot more control for not much more work, and as yet I haven't run into noticeable oxidation problems from any extra oxygen pickup. But if you want to simply and inexpensively make a beer a bit better than the commercials then drops might be your style.
 

431neb

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There are lots and lots of threads with comments like "Drops are crap" or "Drops produce Coca-Cola fizzy" or & etc. One or two of them (oddly not very many - why make a comment like that if you've not got something better to suggest?) say that bulk priming is the only way to go. In the absence of cheap but accurate weighing devices at the 6 gram level there are not a lot of alternatives if you are bottling a brew.

But none of the threads actually describe what is wrong with "Coca-Cola fizzy" (aren't bubbles a good thing?) or what it is that bulk priming adds to the finished product that the drops do not. Can someone point me to a thread or a web page that discusses exactly what the difference is?

Why should I not use carbonation drops? :huh:

By the very nature of the question I'm anticipating subjective replies (if any) but it'd be really appreciated if you would include some evidence that proves your preference one way or the other.

:beer:

I changed over recently. I was finding beers that were a bit too fizzy. I wondered about the uniformity of the drop and the fact that most of my bottles are 330 ml and switched to bulk priming. The results have been better apart from a Celtic Ale that I followed recommendations on and it was pretty flat - actually the jury is out on that one - I may have had the electronic scales set to ounces.

The results are better IMO. Drops are super easy though so I won't rule 'em out completely. I can be pretty lazy.

You can pseudo bulk prime with a sugar solution and a hypodermic (or kids panadol / nurofen doser) into each bottle if you don't have a second barrel / cube.

Has someone linked the bulk priming calculator yet?
 

krisisdog

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Bulk allows for different carbonation levels for different styles of beer, and from experience, drops seem to over carbonate stubbies a touch. Not to the point of un drinkable, but if you're trying to make an easy drinking lager......
 

manticle

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There are lots and lots of threads with comments like "Drops are crap" or "Drops produce Coca-Cola fizzy" or & etc. One or two of them (oddly not very many - why make a comment like that if you've not got something better to suggest?) say that bulk priming is the only way to go. In the absence of cheap but accurate weighing devices at the 6 gram level there are not a lot of alternatives if you are bottling a brew.

But none of the threads actually describe what is wrong with "Coca-Cola fizzy" (aren't bubbles a good thing?) or what it is that bulk priming adds to the finished product that the drops do not. Can someone point me to a thread or a web page that discusses exactly what the difference is?

Why should I not use carbonation drops? :huh:

By the very nature of the question I'm anticipating subjective replies (if any) but it'd be really appreciated if you would include some evidence that proves your preference one way or the other.

:beer:
Nothing really wrong with the drops as such.

I used them for a while.

The cons are: There may be some variation in the drop sizes.
You need to dose each bottle
Two leads to too much carb for some people, one maybe not enough (personal preference).

I don't like super fizzy anything and I like the control I get with bulk priming although I still prime most beers similarly.

They are easier to use than scoops of sugar.

Cons of bulk priming:
Most use a second vessel (can get away with one if necessary but two is probably better)
Faint risk of oxidation and infection (not something that has plagued me in the several years I've been doing it).

Apart from those, it's pretty simple, at least as far as bottling goes.

My evidence is that I've tried both methods, each many more times than once.
 

petesbrew

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Bulk allows for different carbonation levels for different styles of beer, and from experience, drops seem to over carbonate stubbies a touch. Not to the point of un drinkable, but if you're trying to make an easy drinking lager......
This is pretty much it. If you want it carbed a bit lower you can adjust it with bulk priming, plus there's the whole different sized bottle scenario.

If you have 500 or 640 ml bottles you can always play it safe and undercarb them by adding only one drop.
Carb drops work. That's the important thing. Just choose the method that's best for you.
 

odo5435

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This is pretty much it. If you want it carbed a bit lower you can adjust it with bulk priming,
Yeah, this seems to be the only advantage of bulk priming over using drops.


I've only brewed about 20 batches and I only use 750mL bottles. To my inexpert experience I've not had an issue with over-carbonated beer and I'm quite fond of the results so I think I'll be sticking to the drops for the immediate future at least. Thank you all for taking the time to reply. I've taken note of all the issues you raised.
 

MaltyHops

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... Has someone linked the bulk priming calculator yet?
I have some printable bulk priming charts (based on the AHB priming calculator) linked from my sig below.
 

tricache

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Once I started bulk priming I haven't looked back EVER!!! A million times easier and since I use bottles ranging from 250mL up to 2L it speeds up bottling since I don't have to measure each bottle's worth of drops/sugar/dex ect
 
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I was using them until recently to prime my 500ml Grolsch swing tops, 1 drop per bottle and when I opened them to drink the "pop" was quite loud, which indicated to me that it is over carbonated. I can only imagine what pressure would be in a 330ml bottle using the same.
I have recently started bulk priming my kegs and individually priming my Grolsch bottles using dextrose. Haven't opened any yet though so can't compare.
 

stux

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I can taste a fairy floss flavour in most beers carbonated with drops. It does go away over an extremely long period
 

bignath

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Why should I not use carbonation drops? :huh:

By the very nature of the question I'm anticipating subjective replies (if any) but it'd be really appreciated if you would include some evidence that proves your preference one way or the other.

:beer:
If you open up a bag of carbonation drops, whether they are from Coopers at coles, or the generic ones you find at the HBS, there are typically too many inconsistencies throughout the packet for me to consider it as an accurate method of priming your beer.
Plus it's an expensive method too.

CSR sugar cubes are much more consistent in size - BribieG knows all about them as he has historically responded with the suggestion of using them as a cheaper, and more accurate alternative. Never used them myself though. Although i seem to recall him mentioning that they are only really for longies??? I could be wrong on that...

Bulk priming gets mentioned a lot in threads like this for one reason and one reason only. It's accurate across an entire batch.
yes it's more equipment to acquire, but for my money it's well worth it.

If you don't want to bulk prime (or can't bulk prime), then go and buy a sugar scoop from a HBS. More accurate than carbonation drops, and in the long run it's also cheaper. those spoons are only a couple of bucks each, and usually have three different sizes on them. they pay for themselves after a couple of batches. You can use dextrose, dry malt, plain sugar, icing sugar, castor sugar....you name it.

Hell, you can even prime with honey, golden syrup etc if you want to, but obviously being "wet" alternatives, only works in a bulk priming situation.

There's no secret to priming a bottle of beer, and if the suggestions of that they are crap, give too much or inconsistent levels of fizz aren't enough of an answer, then your searching for other answers that don't really exist.

Too expensive, too innacurate.
 

dammag

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I syringe prime with a dextrose solution.

180gm dex in 250mL water, simmered to kill any bugs, seems to do the trick. Less for some styles.

I use a 10mL syringe. 10mL for tallies and 5 mL for 375 mL stubbies. And of course say 8mL for a 600mL bottle. The syringes are easily disassembled for cleaning/sanitising.

Quick as to do, you don't get sugar everywhere and I don't have to worry about cleaning and sanitising another fermenter to bulk prime in.

Damian.
 

jaypes

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My first brew was carbed using carb lollies, must say the results were enormously varied - chucked the rest in the bin.

Strolled into my HBS bought a new fermenter (for priming and fermenting) and he chucked the hose and 1kg of dex in for free.

When you go to all the effort to brew correctly, temps, sanitization, etc, etc and have these let you down at the end of the process is somewhat disheartening but YMMV, I have ditched them altogether.

</my$0.02>
 

wbosher

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Slightly off topic...when using normal sugar to prime bottles (or bulk prime), do you keep a separate container of sugar for just brewing? Just thinking about the sanitation aspect of if, if it even matters that much.

Our sugar container gets used for all sorts of things and different spoons get dumped into it all the time, as well as little hands occasionally. Does this really matter, or will the alcohol kill any undesirables in there?
 

warra48

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Slightly off topic...when using normal sugar to prime bottles (or bulk prime), do you keep a separate container of sugar for just brewing? Just thinking about the sanitation aspect of if, if it even matters that much.

Our sugar container gets used for all sorts of things and different spoons get dumped into it all the time, as well as little hands occasionally. Does this really matter, or will the alcohol kill any undesirables in there?
I keep a dedicated screw top container with my priming sugar in my brewery.
It gets nowhere near the kitchen.
Not too difficult.
 

tricache

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I keep a dedicated screw top container with my priming sugar in my brewery.
It gets nowhere near the kitchen.
Not too difficult.
Same here...I have a airlocked pasta containers which I store all my sugers/dex/ect in and they just live in the bar :)
 

fuddnuddler

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I am planning bottling tonight (Coopers 740ml PET), usually use two Coopers carb drops per bottle.

Am certain I don't have enough drops for the 30 bottles, but I can't get to a shop today and unlikely to get to one for the next week or so due to work.

Any advice/theories on how much dextrose per 740ml bottle would do the trick? Or how much sugar per bottle?

Cheers
 

citizensnips

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just encase you didn't know they do sell them at supermarkets like coles which will be open a lot later than normal shops if that helps
 

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