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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Carbonation Drops vs. Priming Sugar...
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Old 04-02-2014, 04:55 PM   #1
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Default Carbonation Drops vs. Priming Sugar...

Hi all, I am curious to know your opinions about bottle conditioning beers with priming sugar or using sugar tablets like Coopers Carbonation Drops. Is boiling up the priming sugar and mixing it with the brew in a bottling bucket better than just siphoning from the primary straight into the bottle with a carbonation drop?

Thanks in advance!

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Old 04-02-2014, 05:11 PM   #2
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I have learned a few things about bottling.

Dextrose is faster to ferment than table sugar in some instances. So if you use table sugar like me, dont worry about another week or 2 when bottle conditioning.

Bottling wand > racking into bottles.... with the bottling wand you get an even amount of head space between bottles. With just racking into bottles, I have always seen high and low bottles. Carbonation and oxidation problems.... and to someone that knows better a low fill is slightly unappealing.

As far as the carbonation tabs, I have thought about them 2-3 times... but I just boil my table sugar and add it to the bucket once it drops a few degrees. I only bottle +9% beers any more. And if you are doing a case of beer or more, why spend all that $ and time touching everything when you can just boil X amount of sugar and be done?

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Old 04-02-2014, 06:48 PM   #3
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IMO carb drops are the easiest, fastest way to prime if you bottle your beer. With my Cooper's DIY kit I'd bottle directly from the primary fermenter. It took literally seconds to prime the bottles using drops. No bottling bucket means less gear to clean and sanitize. Not having to boil and then cool down the priming solution also speeds up the bottling process.

This ease of use comes with some disadvantages. One being actual cost of the drops themselves. They are pretty expensive compared to an equivalent amount of dextrose (even more so compared to table sugar).

Another disadvantage is the reduced ability to fine tune the priming rate of your beer. With bulk priming you can adjust the amount of priming sugar in order to carbonate your beer to fit the desired style.

Another disadvantage of carb drops that I can think of is that it is harder to ensure even priming across the batch if you use different sized bottles(if you put one drop in a 12oz bottle then how may do you put in a 16oz bottle). This is not an issue when bulk priming.

Personally I prefer to bulk prime despite the additional time and gear requirements.

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Old 04-02-2014, 06:57 PM   #4
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Carb drops are much more expensive, but they eliminate error. The problem (error) can be that the priming sugar is not stirred in well enough and you have some bottles that are way overcarbed and some that are way undercarbed. This is really the only benefit as far as I can see. They are an extra step and a PITA compared to just filling/capping. I have never had a problem making the priming sugar solution and adding it to the bottom of the bottling bucket BEFORE adding any beer. IMO that is the way to go. I can customize my carbonation level much more than I can with carb drops. My 2c.

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Old 04-02-2014, 07:05 PM   #5
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I like to dial in the carbonation level, for example the carbonation level of an ale might not be what I want in a porter or stout. So mixing my own priming sugar is the way I like to go.

For anything where I want some carbonation but not a certain amount (carbonated mead, random "fun" ales), I drop carb drops into bottles.

I've also forgotten to add the priming sugar before bottling....carb drops to the rescue!

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Old 04-02-2014, 07:39 PM   #6
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I boil 2C of water in a small SS sauce pan for a couple minutes while talking to you guys. Then add the weighed amount of priming sugar (dextrose) per this calculator; http://www.tastybrew.com/calculators/priming.html
Cover & cool afew minutes while sanitizing the bottling bucket,bottling wand,racking tube,etc. Then rack a few inches of beer into the bottling bucket & slowly pour the priming solution into the swirling surface of the beer. Then put the lid losely over the bottling bucket while finishing racking.

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Old 04-03-2014, 01:05 PM   #7
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Well, I have both the priming sugar and the carbonation drops already so it's a sunk cost, but the kit only came with 5 oz of priming sugar and the dextrose calculator says you need about 8.5 oz for a hefeweizen (which is what I am making.) Looking at the average mass of dextrose per Cooper's Carbonation Drop, I'm much closer to the calculated value with the drops than with the kit sugar. Add that to the ease and reliability of dropping one cap per bottle, I think I'll go the route of Coopers drops this time.

Thanks for your advice, guys!

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Old 04-03-2014, 04:57 PM   #8
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Be careful priming recycled bottles with that much. The bottles that Belgians come in are fine for high volumes, but your average 12oz bottles can fail under that much pressure if they have flaws.

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Old 04-03-2014, 05:28 PM   #9
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I agree. I prime my wheat ales to no more than about 2.8 VCO2. works fine for me.

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