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Individual Bottle Priming Instructions with Cane Sugar

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TwistedGray

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Individually priming bottles is simple, easy, and fast. It solves many of the frustrations that homebrewers have including inconsistently carbonated bottles, smashing sugar cubes into bottles and making a mess, dealing with "expensive" and somewhat unreliable Fizz drops, under or over calculating the sugar needed for a batch, relying on the swirling action of moving beer from the carboy to bottling bucket to combine the simple syrup into the beer, and others.

Priming bottles one at a time, on paper, seems like it would be daunting and time consuming. In reality, you should be able to easily prime, bottle, and cap a five gallon batch in under 5 minutes (I did it in 3 minutes and some change). If you are going to spend weeks brewing beer, you can spend a few "extra" minutes on one of the most crucial steps.


Advantages
  • Consistent
  • Cheap (about $0.02 per bottle)
  • Household item (you don't need to buy anything you don't already have)

Disadvantages
  • It takes more time (we're comparing seconds to minutes)
  • You're not supporting your Fizz Drop manufacturer

Here is what you will need:
  • bottles (12oz or 16oz)*
  • 1/2tsp measuring spoon
  • cane sugar
  • funnel (plastic or paper)
*for 22 oz bottles I'll do one leveled 1/2tsp and one leveled 1/4tsp. (For everything else, I do the math.)

Photo instructions are provided below because I am sure some of you need it (giggles), and posts without photos are lame.

Step 1: Gather your equipment (noted above). You will want to prime all of the bottles with sugar before adding the beer and capping. All of the equipment should be sanitized, and both the funnel and the spoon should be dry.
IMG_20200821_100417.jpg


Step 2: Insert the funnel into your bottle as shown below.
IMG_20200821_100443.jpg


Step 3: Prepare one measured 1/2tsp spoon full of cane sugar. In this example I am using white sugar, but I have also used brown sugar.
IMG_20200821_100506.jpg


Step 4: Empty the measured spoon of sugar in to the funnel and thus into the bottle (repeat on all bottles, fill with beer, then cap).
IMG_20200821_100521.jpg


The history behind this...

I bottle primed my first few batches of beer using simple syrup in a bottling bucket and allowed the beer to mix into the simple syrup during the siphoning process. I was not pleased with the consistency throughout the bottles from the five gallon batches. Around that time I then started to do smaller three gallon batches more often, and that is when I began looking into alternatives like the Fizz Drops. However, at $0.10-0.20 per bottle, I felt that they were over priced, and I am also cheap. I decided not to go with the Fizz Drops partially due to cost, but I also read a handful of negative reviews. Again, if I have spent hours brewing and weeks fermenting, I want consistency!

On a few forums including HBT, I found a number of homebrewers touting sugar cubes as an inexpensive alternative for individual bottle priming. However, we never use sugar cubes at home. Like everyone else here, we have regular old cane sugar from the 4lb or 10lb bag. Anyways, I went out and bought a box of sugar cubes, for the first and only time. In fact, we still have them years later (my wife will sometimes pop one in her coffee). They require excessive (relatively) force to get into the bottle, and they don't fit. You will lose sugar from the corners of the cube as you jam it into the bottle. I was happy with the more consistent carbonation; however, I was unhappy with a sad little thumb after about a dozen bottles in. There had to be an easier way.

There was an easier way, and it was staring me in the face! I measured the weight of a sugar cube, and I then matched that weight from the container of cane sugar that we use for anything that requires sugar. The volume of sugar ended up being 1/2tsp. I have bottled hundreds of bottles since then using the method above.

~Cheers~

Giggles.jpg
 

ncbrewer

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I primed directly in the bottles many years ago. I don't do it now because: 1) I'm 70 (bad memory) - would double up or forget a bottle here or there. 2) I don't trust the sugar to be sanitary - I like to boil it. I know a sanitation problem would be really unlikely, but, why take the chance? I get good consistency by batch priming and am completely satisfied with this method.
 
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TwistedGray

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I primed directly in the bottles many years ago. I don't do it now because: 1) I'm 70 (bad memory) - would double up or forget a bottle here or there. 2) I don't trust the sugar to be sanitary - I like to boil it. I know a sanitation problem would be really unlikely, but, why take the chance? I get good consistency by batch priming and am completely satisfied with this method.
Thanks for the debate pappy ; )

1. Your eyes still good, yah? You can just look in the bottle for the sugar, ha ha. I have had to do that a few times.

2. You could do the same approach as noted above but using a simple syrup (some people do that and use a syringe instead).

Keep on keeping on though.

~Cheers~
 

Immocles

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Pretty much the only way I carbonate anymore. Must be going on a full year by now.
I hated fizz drops as well, plus they always left floaties in the beer. I also had issue with inconsistency with carbonation using batch priming. Plus the times I completely forgot to add my solution when it was sitting directly in front of me...
 

Joshua Hughes

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@TwistedGray method. Pics with less carb were intentional as I used 1/4 tsp on those. For 22oz bottles I do a tsp. The stout is a tsp for 22 Oz. Kits include the same amount of sugar to make sure it carbs a bunch. This method works well
62AD6BBD-4BD5-46AE-9B89-3D4FB7B1C285.jpeg
 

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mygar

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Ok but when I did half batch of my kit (that has corn sugar)... I only used like 1/4 of supplied sugar using your method. So I went to a priming calc … a kolsch at 76F for volume CO2 of 2.7 … and for 22oz bottles.. came to 5.5g of sugar per bottle. This many grams equals 3/4 table tablespoons of corn sugar... not teaspoons. Why the discrepancy?

I trust your method works well for you.. looks good too regarding pic. :)

I was just thrown off how little sugar I used vs what was supplied.
 
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ncbrewer

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Ok but when I did half batch of my kit (that has corn sugar)... I only used like 1/4 of supplied sugar using your method. So I went to a priming calc … a kolsch at 76F for volume CO2 of 2.7 … and for 22oz bottles.. came to 5.5g of sugar per bottle. This many grams equals 3/4 table tablespoons of corn sugar... not teaspoons. Why the discrepancy?
By weight, 5.5 gms = 0.194 oz. For cane sugar, volume ounces and weight ounces are almost exactly the same, so this would be 1.164 tsp. I don't know the volume conversion for corn sugar, but it should be similar. Looks to me like TwistedGray's amounts are about right. If you've used a lot more sugar, you could have bottle bombs. Be careful.
 

mygar

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I have bottles in plastic bin with lid.. but yes will be careful. But are you sure the volume oz are the same. The corn sugar is much more powdery and fluffy then cane sugar
 

mygar

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Ok, there were 2 issues I was dealing with.

1. Failing to recognize OP using cane sugar (not corn sugar)... guess pics did not help! Giggles.

2. The teaspoons I originally was using... oh man... they were junk. They were significantly under sized in comparison to my wife's quality ones. I carefully leveled and weighed 1.25 tsp (corn sugar) from each set of spoons. The cheap ones, for 1.25 tsp weighed 1g. The quality ones weighed 3.8g!

Now, using the quality teaspoons, and carefully measuring 1.25 leveled off spoons of cane & corn sugar, the weights were 5.5 and 3.8g, respectively. So, there is definitely a volume to weight difference between the two.

* When I uncapped the bottles to correct, I measured out enough corn sugar to prime each with 5.5g. So, hopefully all good!!
 

ncbrewer

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I have bottles in plastic bin with lid.. but yes will be careful. But are you sure the volume oz are the same. The corn sugar is much more powdery and fluffy then cane sugar
I just checked on the Morebeer calculator. They show corn sugar is 8.04 weight ounces per cup, or 1.005 weight oz per volume oz - right on. You mention corn sugar being fluffy. I wonder if the density varies? I often check by volume of cane sugar against the weight, and it's pretty consistent.
 

jrgtr42

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HOnestly batch priming doesn't take much longer, and you don't have to worry about getting excess trub from your fermenter into the bottles. It takes me maybe 5 minutes to boil up a batch on simple syrup, I let it cool a bit while I prep the rest of it all (I wash and sanitize the bottles beforehand boiling the syrup - leaving them upside down in a box, on clean paper towel - I've never had a bad bottle.
POur the sugar mix into the bottling bucket, rack on top, then rack to bottles.
 

mygar

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I just checked on the Morebeer calculator. They show corn sugar is 8.04 weight ounces per cup, or 1.005 weight oz per volume oz - right on. You mention corn sugar being fluffy. I wonder if the density varies? I often check by volume of cane sugar against the weight, and it's pretty consistent.
The density appears to be less in corn than cane. I weighed my corn sugar for each bottle using my small anvil scale... making sure ea bottle has 5.5g. So I think all is well
 

mygar

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HOnestly batch priming doesn't take much longer, and you don't have to worry about getting excess trub from your fermenter into the bottles. It takes me maybe 5 minutes to boil up a batch on simple syrup, I let it cool a bit while I prep the rest of it all (I wash and sanitize the bottles beforehand boiling the syrup - leaving them upside down in a box, on clean paper towel - I've never had a bad bottle.
POur the sugar mix into the bottling bucket, rack on top, then rack to bottles.
Yes I started with 1 gal batches with fizz drops. The drops were pain as they were too big to fit in many bottles without craming them in. But with 2.5 gal batches I may do the sugar solution/ bottling method. I also was trying to limit O2 by skipping racking
 
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TwistedGray

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HOnestly batch priming doesn't take much longer, and you don't have to worry about getting excess trub from your fermenter into the bottles. It takes me maybe 5 minutes to boil up a batch on simple syrup, I let it cool a bit while I prep the rest of it all (I wash and sanitize the bottles beforehand boiling the syrup - leaving them upside down in a box, on clean paper towel - I've never had a bad bottle.
POur the sugar mix into the bottling bucket, rack on top, then rack to bottles.
If your comment, "batch priming doesn't take much longer" is accurate then there is no reason to do batch priming. To make my point further, the next comment you made, "you don't have to worry about excess trub" also points to the benefit of individually priming. Your method requires a transfer from your fermenter into a bottling bucket; my method does not. My Anvil fermenter and my Mash & Boil (when used as a fermenter, like how I'm using it now) both have spigots. I bottle directly from the fermenter without concern of excess trub, and if I was really concerned, I would follow the same thing as you have to (ie: transfer to bottling bucket).

You have helped prove my point that individual priming is a better approach than batch priming; thank you.
 
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TwistedGray

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1. Failing to recognize OP using cane sugar (not corn sugar)... guess pics did not help! Giggles.
Lol, there's that ; )

Yeah, my point was to use something we all have on the shelf rather than something I'd have to stock. For the longest time when I was brewing from kits I would just throw the sugar, from the kit, into the boil.
 

moorejl57

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I have been doing the sucrose solution and syringe method out of concern for contamination. Lately I have been making a sweet hop tea in my inverted Aeropress such that each 500 ml bottle gets 10 ml. I just heat water to 180 in electric kettle and pour over weighed sugar and hop pellets and let steep for 20 minutes. The Aeropress does a very good job of filtering out the hops, but you need to account for absorption of solution in the hop mass. So if I need 120 ml for 12 ez-cap bottles, I make up 175 ml of solution with about 52 g of sugar which yields about 3 g per bottle. Since I am a no chill fan, this is my way of dry hopping/flavoring.
 

ncbrewer

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Advantages
  • Consistent
  • Cheap (about $0.02 per bottle)
  • Household item (you don't need to buy anything you don't already have)
I'll point out that the advantages all disappear if you get good carbonation consistency with bulk priming, and if you're using cane sugar. For me, there is just no advantage to individual bottle priming.
 

day_trippr

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fwiw, back in my bottling days I did the individual bottle priming thing with dry CS. Seemed pretty natural especially given my OC nature, and it let me bottle directly from the fermenter and avoid an extra racking (though that was well before my O2 wakening ;)) And though the last of my bottling days are ~14 years behind me I definitely never had a grenade, never had an evident infection, and don't even recall a flat bottle...

Cheers!
 

z-bob

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On a few forums including HBT, I found a number of homebrewers touting sugar cubes as an inexpensive alternative for individual bottle priming. However, we never use sugar cubes at home. Like everyone else here, we have regular old cane sugar from the 4lb or 10lb bag. Anyways, I went out and bought a box of sugar cubes, for the first and only time. In fact, we still have them years later (my wife will sometimes pop one in her coffee). They require excessive (relatively) force to get into the bottle, and they don't fit. You will lose sugar from the corners of the cube as you jam it into the bottle. I was happy with the more consistent carbonation; however, I was unhappy with a sad little thumb after about a dozen bottles in. There had to be an easier way.
You bought the wrong size sugar cubes. :) The ones that fit in a beer bottle are "Domino Dots", and there's 190-something in a 1 pound box. They are sometimes hard to find. Standard size sugar cubes (I think it's 126 per box) are too big, but they work well for 500ml and 1L plastic bottles.

I've started using granulated sugar and a little stainless steel funnel for most of my bottling, but for 11 and 12 oz bottles, I will keep using Dots until I use up my stash. I do a primary fermentation in a bucket, then transfer to a plastic carboy to finish, and most of the trub gets left behind in the bucket. I bottle directly from the carboy.
 

dwhite60

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You bought the wrong size sugar cubes. :) The ones that fit in a beer bottle are "Domino Dots", and there's 190-something in a 1 pound box. They are sometimes hard to find. Standard size sugar cubes (I think it's 126 per box) are too big, but they work well for 500ml and 1L plastic bottles.

I've started using granulated sugar and a little stainless steel funnel for most of my bottling, but for 11 and 12 oz bottles, I will keep using Dots until I use up my stash. I do a primary fermentation in a bucket, then transfer to a plastic carboy to finish, and most of the trub gets left behind in the bucket. I bottle directly from the carboy.
I've got some 12 ounce long neck bottles the Dominos Dots don't quite fit into.
 

Leezer

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I bought a new box of Domino Dots a couple weeks ago since I had run out, and these were a lot bigger than all the previous ones I bought. I don't know if they changed the size, or if there are different sizes now, but I wasn't happy about it since they wouldn't fit at all and it threw a big monkey wrench into bottling day. I kept the label from the old box in the hopes I can still find that smaller size which worked perfectly. Otherwise I will definitely try the method outlined by the OP.
 

dawn_kiebawls

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What volume of carbonation (is it measured in atmospheres..? I have no idea) does the 5.5g per bottle give you? I'm just about to transfer a cider to secondary and want to bottle the leftover ~1.5 gallons but I prefer my ciders (and beer, for that matter) to have more carbonation than a standard ale level. Would an even 6g of sugar do the trick? Would 6.5g pop my bottles? I'll be using 12oz long necks.

Thanks!
 

LostHopper

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Domino Dots for carbonation are 198 count per 1lb box.
I've never found them locally, only on Amazon.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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Back in the 2017-2018 timeframe, there were a couple of home brewers active in the Northern Brewer forums who were able to get Dots in the "right" size:

http://forum.northernbrewer.com/t/domino-sugar-dots-for-bottle-carbonation/23433 said:
Looked up Domino Dots again. Most of the sites I looked at showed a picture of the Dots box but were actually the regular cubes at 126 count per box. If you plan to use the Dots for carbonation make sure it is the 198 count box. 2.29 grams per cube versus the regular size cubes at 3.6 grams per cube.
Apparently, there are two sizes.

I gave up trying to find a consistent source for the "right" size back in 2018.
 

dawn_kiebawls

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Well, fingers crossed. I just got a cider transferred to secondary and bottled the remaining 10, 12oz'rs with a bottling wand attached straight to the autosiphon. I used 1/2 tsp table sugar per 12oz bottle and they're currently sitting in my ferm chamber incase of any unexpected explosions. Cheers!
 
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TwistedGray

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Well, fingers crossed. I just got a cider transferred to secondary and bottled the remaining 10, 12oz'rs with a bottling wand attached straight to the autosiphon. I used 1/2 tsp table sugar per 12oz bottle and they're currently sitting in my ferm chamber incase of any unexpected explosions. Cheers!
Lol, that's how I carb all my ciders. I'm sure you'll be fine ; )
 

dawn_kiebawls

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Lol, that's how I carb all my ciders. I'm sure you'll be fine ; )
Beautiful carb in my cider, thanks! Next time I will likely go with a touch more sugar (I tend to like my beers and ciders on the higher end of the carb levels) but I'm stoked with how it turned out. Now I just wish I bottled more than 10 bottles!

edit: forgot to ask this question:

You mentioned using brown sugar to carb as well. Have you tried this in a cider? I know there won't be any sweetness contributed but I'm wondering if it contributes any sort of a molasses flavor at all? Thanks again!
 

day_trippr

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Be careful putting significant molasses in beer as it is uber high in minerals - including iron - and often contributes a metallic character that doesn't go away...

Cheers!
 

dawn_kiebawls

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Be careful putting significant molasses in beer as it is uber high in minerals - including iron - and often contributes a metallic character that doesn't go away...

Cheers!
Would that include brown sugar? I'm happy with how these bottles turned out so I definitely don't feel the need to change anything.

Also, I hate to bother you with questions like this since I'm getting my keezer (re)constructed now and I'm sure I'll have plenty of annoying questions to bug you with ;)
 

day_trippr

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Brown sugar should be ok - I used to use it quite a bit and can't remember any off notes from it.
But I did a stout years ago with a pound of black molasses at FO and it had a hint of blood in the finish that took away from the beer all the way to the end. No - didn't dump it over that - it was otherwise a great stout :)

Cheers!
 

z-bob

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Brown sugar is more expensive and is harder to measure, and I don't think you'll be adding enough to affect the flavor -- and that might be good. I think it's only about 2% molasses, so I don't think it will make the beer taste like iron, but it still won't taste like you imagine it unless you add some kind of nonfermentable sweetener.
 

BassElement

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I used to only do batch priming (boiled sugar mixed in the bottling bucket), but I had huge variations in and between batches, with under-carbonation on a regular basis, even weighing all things carefully. A few years ago I switched to the significantly more expensive Cooper drops for bottle priming, and every batch since has been consistently and appropriately carbonated. For me it's been an acceptable cost to ensure carbonation is not something I have to worry about.
 

davidabcd

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Looks like a nice way to do it--individual measure of sugar with funnel.
I haven't had any problems regarding consistency with batch priming though, using the siphoning beer to "stir" the priming sugar/water or beer mixture.
I've been using corn sugar but as soon as I blow through the giant of it, I'm going to switch to table sugar.
 

IronMan Brew

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not sure this would help but - I know Mr Beer, you don't have to tell me.

 
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