Saturday , May 18 2024

Priming Your Beer: A Helpful Introduction to Homebrewing

To kick boredom away and deal with the stress of an ongoing pandemic, many have given themselves new challenges to try out. From cooking to painting and trying the art of yoga, there are plenty of hobbies that have grown in popularity lately. And out of the bunch of activities, you can try to fill up your free time, one of the most challenging and interesting ones is homebrewing your own beer.

If you’re interested in starting homebrewing, you probably have a lot of questions on your mind. Like for instance, what does the process of priming and bottling the beer involve? This step is the most crucial one in getting a successful result, so it’s important to get properly informed. Here is a helpful introduction on how to properly prime your beer with the help of the many different homebrew bottling sugar additives.

What Is the Process of Priming?

You have come to the stage where your wort is done, it’s fully fermented, and all that’s is left is to finish it off with the right sugar additive. Priming beer is the act of adding specific amounts of sugar to the finished product in order to carbonate the beer in the bottle. This is accomplished by boiling a small amount of sugar in a bottle to sanitise, then putting the sugar into the beer and bottling it off.

priming beer


Residual yeast activates in contact with the sugar and carbonises the beer. With nowhere to go, carbon dioxide will dissolve into the solution and give you a delightful and tasty beer.

One thing to keep in mind is the amount of sugar you put in. Too much sugar can cause the beer to overflow once opened, being too bubbly, but adding little to no amount of sugar will cause a flat-tasting product. Measurements are key when it comes to successfully priming and bottling a beer, so using a priming sugar calculator may ease things up for you.

The Most Popular Priming Sugars on the Market

Getting into the chemistry behind the priming products is significant when deciding on what type of sugar additive you’ll use. Practically you can prime your beer with all types of sugar, including every other alternative of sweetener. However, because of the distinct sugar content in each, the priming process will be a tad more difficult to control. And this is why it’s recommended to sugar that’s specifically sold for brewing/

Corn Sugar or Dextrose

Corn sugar is the most popular homebrew bottling sugar for priming beers. Being derived from corn, there is no amount of flavour added when introduced in the brewing process. Its chemical compound is bound to water molecules, so more corn sugar is used to achieve the right priming formula. It is essentially less sweet than sucrose and appears identical to glucose.

Table Sugar or Sucrose

While higher amounts of corn sugar are used to achieve good fermentation proportions, sucrose has different chemical bonds and requires smaller amounts of load, hence it generates more carbon dioxide in the bottle. Table sugar has the same exact taste as corn sugar, it’s cheap and easy to prepare when priming.

sucrose sugar


Dry Malt Extract (DME)

If you want smoother beer and better quality carbonation you can use dry malt extracts. Adding dry malt into the solution will result in more alcohol content and a better carbonation level.

Malt is a specialised brewing grain that is used in order to extract the sugars when boiling. After the extraction of sugar, the yeast is added to perform the carbonation process and produce the alcohol content. The yeast has a full-on meal to eat and produce delicious beer flavours. The most commonly used malted grain is barley and wheat.

Belgian Candi Sugar

Candi Sugars are primarily used for Belgian Beers and more dark ales. They are derived from sugar beets that have been inverted from sucrose into glucose and fructose. During the manufacturing process, the sugar is caramelized into different shades of brown to deliver a range of rich flavours ideal for darker ales.

belgium candi sugar


Conditioning Tablets

In order to achieve an equal carbonation level from bottle to bottle, best settle for the conditioning tablets. The tablets make the process a lot easier and simple, it saves on time and it’s less messy. The tablets go straight into the bottle and leave no residue behind. This step is more controlled and less likely to result in a flat product.

Substitutes for Priming Other Than Refined Sugars

It is well known that other than sugar there are some organic substitutes for priming beer, like honey, maple syrup, molasses. They’re more difficult to work with since the water to sugar content varies, but definitely deliver finer tasting aromas.

If you want that delicious nectar flavour in your beer, then consider using honey as a priming agent. When adding honey, you should keep in mind the intensity of the flavour you prefer. Since there is no distinct honey concentration in jars, you should use a hydrometer to measure its gravity content. When you get that out of the way, you’ll have a precise sugar content that’ll go into priming the beer.

Further experimenting with flavours, you can implement maple syrup in the priming step. Since maple syrup has usually around 60-70% of sugary content, it can be quite the delightful feast for the hungry yeast. Boiling the maple is crucial to ensure a sanitized batch.

priming beer with honey


One last interesting substitute used as a priming solution is molasses, this will work well with darker ales like porters or stouts. Molasses introduce rich and burnt flavours to the beer, just make sure you dissolve the thick consistency with water, to boil and bottle off flawlessly.

How to Properly Add Homebrewing Sugar to Your Beer?

In order to avoid over-carbonation and exploding beer bottles in your kitchen cabinet, you’ll need to learn the proper way of priming the finished wort.

The easiest way to measure the right amount of brewing sugar is to go on an online brewing calculator, where you’ll get the exact measurements for an optimal priming ratio. The next step is to boil a cup of water with the chosen sugar product, and stir nice and thoroughly to dissolve every grain and clump. After you add the priming solution the next step is to carefully bottle and close off the homebrew.

And just like the joy of wine enthusiasts when finding a local winery that’s the embodiment of taste and class, visiting local microbreweries and pubs will widen your flavour preferences on beer and amplify your desire for homebrewing. Nothing beats the pleasure of brewing your own beer and enjoying a pint made according to your own taste!