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Carbonation - Sugar Or Not

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MartsHomeBrew

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I just made my first kit brew two days ago, a Cascade Pale Ale and am looking forward to trying it. Bottles I have to use for bottling are 500ml for which my local Brewcraft shop in Richmond did not have carbonation drops for specifically. The drops they sell are one for 330ml bottle, or two for 750ml. Logically 1 1/2 would do a 500ml but that would require cutting them in half, so I was told to use sugar instead. I have a scoop for the exact measurement, but I want to get some opinions on which type of sugar to use, or whether to use it at all? Does the answer vary depending on different yeasts, hops or malts used for different types of beer?
Reading through various sources I have found a complete spectrum of opinions on this topic, some saying dextrose is preferable to sugar. Being my first brew I Am short on practical and even theoretical knowledge although I have ordered a few books on the subject which are being posted to me. I want to ensure I get it right and get the best possible result. Some expert advice would be greatly appreciated :)
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pcmfisher

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Castor sugar is quite acceptable for priming bottles.
Make sure your brew has finished fermenting before bottling, especially if you used the shitty yeast that comes with that particular can.
 

Bats

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Welcome to the great hobby of Home Brewing. You will never look back.

Being new to home brewing, it probably doesn't matter what sugar you use. You will end up with the same taste and carbonation in the end.

Some can notice a difference between different priming sugars but I cant. I've found that some carbonate a bit quicker and others produce smaller bubbles. Try whatever you like and then experiment with another sugar next time.

As to type, a lot of people will prime their bottles with either dextrose, caster sugar or even plain table sugar. I tend to use dextrose or caster over normal sugar.

I find that the carbonation drops can over carbonate 330ml bottles. I used 1 drop in 500ml bottles of a German Wheat that I did and the carbonation was perfect.

Whatever you decide I'm sure will work out well. It's an art form and we all experiment with a bit of trial and error.

Good luck with it. Let us know how it goes.
 

roverfj1200

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Would agree that one Carb drop in a 500ml would be OK.

Bulk priming is the best way to get carbonation right. But not the be all.

cheers
 

KingKong

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Sounds like you are where I was at a couple of brews back . I had to buy some 500ml bottles that completely stuffed my carbonation drop plans. But because of that I looked into 'bulk priming'. Have a read of this article on bulk priming . You can have 5 different sized bottles and not have to think about the sugar levels for each one. Also I also found there was a lot of info on all the subjects. But I found the AHB (Australian Home Brew) articles with links to individual topics the best way of finding easy to follow advice. Have a look at those, they are great.

Kongy
 

warra48

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The little sugar measures I have seem only cater for 375 and 750 mil bottles, although I'm told there are some which cater for 500 mil bottles too.

What I did is to buy several of them, and then used my modelling scalpel blade to cut the notch in the 750 mil one down by 1/3rd, so that it caters for 500 mil bottles.

One thing to be aware of, caster sugar is finer than table sugar, so you will fit more caster sugar into the same volume as table sugar.

I weigh my sugar container before I start dispensing the sugar into the bottles, and again after I'm done. That way I know exactly how much sugar I've used. The BeerSmith2 carbonation tool tells me the volume of cO I've carbonated to. I prefer mine on the low end of the scale, but that's a personal preference. I keep notes of my carbonation level for each brew in BS2, so I know exactly what I've done each brew.
 

MHB

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Sugar measures are designed to give the right amount when you use normal household granulated white sugar, Caster will give more in the same scoop and Raw will give less, its all down to the size of the granules and the amount of space between them.
For a really good example, next time you are in a supermarket compare the pack sizes for Icing (very fine), Caster (fine), Granulated (normal) and Raw or Coffee Crystals (large), the trend is pretty obvious.
Bulk Priming might be the best answer but these 330, 500 and 750 mL scoops work very well. As does minor surgery on a 750 mL scoop.
Mark
3_way_sm.jpg
 

Wolfy

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Bulk Priming might be the best answer but these 330, 500 and 750 mL scoops work very well. As does minor surgery on a 750 mL scoop.
Mark
View attachment 55933
My beer submitted to the last two Vic case-swaps are proof that identical scoops such as the one pictured are not always perfect.
 

JakeSm

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I would just use 1 carbonation drop in each of your 500ml bottle. It will be fine and fizzy. Btw..the yeast in the can is not shitty if used with the can it was designed for. If you want it more carbonated then would probly go bulk priming.
 

MartsHomeBrew

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Appreciate all the helpful feedback. Considering the differing advice I suppose I should try a few different methods to see how each one goes? Although I realize one which works well this time is not guaranteed to work well every time. I will try some with carb drops, some with white sugar, and some with brown table sugar. I shall attempt bulk priming for the second batch I made which is a Bavarian Wheat.
Now i am concerned about the fermenting. As of today it is now 14 (or 15) days since this batch was made (2 Thursday's ago) and the fermenting still has not finished. Air continues to bubble out of the airlock in intervals of about forty seconds. The recipe (cascade PaleAle) said should be 10 days, however the two books I am reading conclude otherwise which gives me some comfort. John Palmers "how to brew" on page 90 mentions as much as 3-4 weeks, whilst (more worryingly) Charlie Papazians "Complete joy of hombrewing 3rd edition" mentions 8-14 days. It should be noted that although the fermenter I am using was brand new at the time, I sterilized it using a kind of cleaner rather than a sterilizer by mistake ("Beer essentials Brewclean") with only a light rinse after. I realize this was a major oversight which severely reduces my chance of an excellent brew but does not necessarily doom it to failure. I also failed to measure the sg after it was made so I have no reading for that presently. It has been fermenting in a room which fluctuates between 18.5-21.5 degrees Celsius which falls between the recommended 18-24 degrees on the recipe. I have a thick black jacket covering the fermenter completely for darkness which allows only the airlock to stick out.
Naturally I am now concerned about if or when fermentation will completely cease, and exactly why it has continued for this long :{
 

glenwal

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Air continues to bubble out of the airlock in intervals of about forty seconds.
You appear to have done alot of reading, and yet you haven't read the most important piece of information you need to - a gravity reading. Take one. Then take another in 3 days time. If they match, and are in the range of what you expect then its done.


Then take you airlock and destroy it with an electric can opener. Be careful though, because electric can openers tend to attract kittens as they think they are getting a feed.
 

FuzzyDropbear

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Firstly, welcome to homebrewing!

The bubbling of the airlock is not always an accurate indication of fermentation. I'm assuming from your post above that you have a hydrometer? A hydrometer reading which is constant over a few days will tell you when fermentation has finished (and don't be afraid to have a sip of the sample you've extracted before you toss it :icon_cheers: ).

There's no problem leaving it in the fermenter for a while, it will help produce a clearer finished product and allows the yeast to munch on some of the byproducts produced during primary fermentation. I've left a beer in the fermenter for just over 4 weeks (because of work) and it turned out great.

I'm not sure I would prime with brown sugar, I've read that it will impart a different flavour on the beer, someone may be able to clarify this?

[edit: beaten by Glen.. lol. and watch out for those dang kittens]
 

warra48

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The previous two posts are spot on about using your hydrometer to take a gravity reading. Follow that advice.

I use caster sugar to prime all my beers, no matter what the style. It fully ferments out, and the amount is so small, it will leave no taste impact on your beers.
Having said that, I prefer to carbonate at the low end of the scale for the style of beer I've brewed, but that's my personal taste.

I weigh my sugar container before I prime my bottles, and again afterwards, so I always know exactly how much sugar I've used to prime the batch. And I keep records, so I know if I need to adjust anything for future batches.
Brewing software is a great help. I use BeerSmith, and it has a Carbonation Tool, which makes it easy. But there are other free brewing software programs you can download, such as BrewMate, and they work perfectly well.
 

tricache

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I used brown sugar for my first time bulk priming on my last brew (Stout) and it did add a little bit to flavour but that's what I was aiming for.

I am a bulk priming convert here, my first 5 or so brews I used carb drops but now I am happy to bulk prime!! So easy!!
 

MartsHomeBrew

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I am guilty of starting the brewing before my books arrived in the mail. Between that and the incomplete snippets of advice I got from the brew shop, a number of errors were made. Did I also mention that I didn't strain the pot when I tipped it into the fermenter? So some big errors on my part.Anyway, the sg reading I just took was 1.013. There is a large amount of sediment, mainly creamy white in color. Aroma was like apple cider, and taste was same, slightly bitter but not an overwhelmingly strong taste. Colour was very good, aside from the sediment. So will take another reading on Saturday night. I am wondering if i should try to strain the beer through a sieve as i bottle it to try and remove some excess sediment? Will be interesting if it all works out well in the end. I am looking forward to finding out and starting on the 2nd batch, then the third which is a Leffe Blonde. Can't wait for that :)
 

FuzzyDropbear

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Meh, welcome to homebrewing, we're all (or most of us, or maybe it's just me) making mistakes, it's part of trying different things!
lol. Some work, some don't.

Didn't strain the pot? Sorry if I missed it, but what was in the pot? I must've been a very boring brewer, my first was the tin of goo from the local HBS and the recommended 'brew booster' pack that they sold me with the starter pack, which you just bung it all in the fermenter and leave it be. lol.

There's always sediment at the bottom of the fermenter, it's called 'trub' and consists of proteins, yeast and also hops if you dry hopped. A good little resource I used when starting to learn all the terminology is here (http://www.aussiehomebrewer.com/forum/inde...;showarticle=15).

Is there sediment still floating in the fermenter? Or are you just worried about the trub at the bottom? If it's at the bottom, it shouldn't get into your bottle, so no need to filter it as you bottle.

Hmm, my missus has also described the aroma of one of my beers (out of the test sample) as like a cider, I couldn't smell it, neither could my mate but I'm sure it'll turn out fine. Just leave the bottles for a few weeks before sampling. I sampled my first batch at around 2 weeks and it was still a bit green, but still nice :icon_cheers:
 

yum beer

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I am guilty of starting the brewing before my books arrived in the mail. Between that and the incomplete snippets of advice I got from the brew shop, a number of errors were made. Did I also mention that I didn't strain the pot when I tipped it into the fermenter? So some big errors on my part.Anyway, the sg reading I just took was 1.013. There is a large amount of sediment, mainly creamy white in color. Aroma was like apple cider, and taste was same, slightly bitter but not an overwhelmingly strong taste. Colour was very good, aside from the sediment. So will take another reading on Saturday night. I am wondering if i should try to strain the beer through a sieve as i bottle it to try and remove some excess sediment? Will be interesting if it all works out well in the end. I am looking forward to finding out and starting on the 2nd batch, then the third which is a Leffe Blonde. Can't wait for that :)
The sediment in the hydro sample will be yeast and crud, you should ditch this sample and take another, you will notice it will have no/or less crud in it. Then take
your reading...much more accurate, though 1013 is quite possibly on the mark. No need to strain when bottling, you can probably see in the botom of your FV the yeast cake sitting below your tap.
 

MartsHomeBrew

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The sediment in the hydro sample will be yeast and crud, you should ditch this sample and take another, you will notice it will have no/or less crud in it. Then take
your reading...much more accurate, though 1013 is quite possibly on the mark. No need to strain when bottling, you can probably see in the botom of your FV the yeast cake sitting below your tap.
I certainly have a lot of learning to do but i very much look forward to eventually having a go at All Grain when i feel my level of understanding has increased considerably. I appreciate all the tips thus far which have been a big help, so thank you all for those. I finally bottled my Cascade after the FG ended up at 1010, didn't have any problems with the sediment whilst bottling and as advised, did not worry about straining it- there was no need. It all went into 500ml bottles, and for carbonation I thought I would do a test of 4 methods: 10 bottles each castor sugar, brown sugar, while sugar, and carb drops, 1 per bottle. Was fiddly but varying opinions led me to this conclusion. I also bottled my Bavarian Wheat beer the same day, the aroma and color resemble Hoegaarden almost exactly. Now the patient but exciting wait begins again, in the meantime I made my 3rd batch on Wednesday of Leffe Blonde, which had an SG of 1049 once finished, so that one is bubbling away like mad at the moment, leaving the 2nd fermenter looking lonely. There are a few specials on the brewcraft website (Melbourne) at the moment, wondering if anyone has tried one of these?1. Mangrove Jacks British Series Nut Brown Ale2. Docklands Porter3. Aussie Honey LagerI also Wondered about the Soft Pack extract kits which I presume are a substitute for the cans of goo. Any opinions of whether one is better than the other?
 

stm

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Welcome back Yasmani, your english has improved considerably!
 

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