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Do I have to use corn sugar to bottle?

We often field this question at the last minute after a brewer realizes they don't have corn sugar. In a pinch, you can use other sugars to bottle with. We recommend, and use, corn sugar because it is easily digested by yeast which are already in a semi-dormant state. If you use another type of sugar the amounts will be different. Cane sugar for one is slightly more concentrated than corn sugar so you may want to take that into consideration. If using DME we can recommend that you use 1 to 1.25 cups. You can use light, amber or dark DME to bottle within a pinch. Try to have corn sugar on hand and eliminate any worry. Common table sugar or sucrose is actually made up of one molecule each glucose and fructose. The yeast must produce an enzyme to break that bond before it can ferment it. The bond naturally breaks in a very acidic environment, so mixing sugar with lemon juice will make the sugar more digestible but can leave a lemon flavor in the beer.

How much sugar do I add at bottling time? Does it have to be 4oz, or does it not really matter?

How much sugar you add depends upon the level of carbonation you desire. The amount can range from 3 to 6 oz (about .5 to 1.1 cups) for 5 gallons which will provide a level of carbonation ranging from very low to extremely high. While there are some traditional guidelines for how much carbonation a given style should have, you are certainly free to experiment with what you would individually like. After all, homebrewing is about creating beer that you like. DSo how do you determine a level when you are new to brewing and don't have any previous reference points? Our brewing kits come with a pre-measured 4 oz (3/4 cup) packet of corn sugar. We think this is a good reference point from which to start. High gravity beers tend to need less corn sugar due to the residual sugar left behind.

Do clarifies like biofine, clarity-ferm, and gelatin take away the remaining yeast in suspension that you need for carbonation, resulting in a flat beer after priming and bottling?

Clarifying presents many issues when it comes to bottling. You have two ways to go about clarifying your beer. First is to work on anything that can help clear the beer out during the boil. This constitutes a good rolling boil (the entire volume of wort if possible) and use of a clarifying aid such as Irish Moss or Whirlfloc tablets. Both of these natural products help bind protein together to form compounds that too heavy to stay in solution. This is called the hot break. If you use a wort chiller and cool rapidly you also get a good 'cold break' which helps to remove additional material from solution. The key is to try to leave as much break material in the kettle when possible, so that a minimal amount enters the fermenter(without going too nuts, a majority is good but leaving all is excessive). Boil clariying is the easiest with regards to bottling as you do not need to worry about the yeast count at bottling. The second solution should only come after not having good results with the first step. Use Finning agents after fermentation is over to achieve clarity. Most of these products will remove the compounds that cause haze and pull out some of the yeast, which can result in low carbonation levels (read individual descriptions). So when these types of clarifiers are used, it is a good idea to add back some yeast at the bottling stage. This can be achieved using dry yeast (as a majority of the flavor that is produced by the yeast happened during the actual fermentation) during the bottling process. Please read up on any additive clarifier before use.

Can I bottle beer directly from a conical fermenter?

Transferring into bottles directly can be done, however most people prefer to go to a bottling bucket first, due to the ease of adding dissolved corn sugar. If you stir in the bottling sugar into the fermenter you will disturb this yeast bed and mix it back into the beer. This may or may not be a big deal but can lead to a fair amount of yeast sediment in the bottle. We carry a product called, carbonation drops, these are small tablets of dextrose that can be added directly into the bottle. They are nice for bottling a few bottles directly from the fermenter because of the ease of use.

How do I bottle my beer?

To bottle your beer we will assume that your beer has gone through proper fermentation and is ready to bottle. First you need to prepare your bottling sugar. We recommend that you boil 4 oz of corn sugar (dextrose) with approximately two cups of water for 5 minutes at a low simmer. After boiling, add the sugar solution to the bottom of your bottling bucket. A common bottling bucket is a 5 or 6 gallon plastic bucket with or without a spigot on the bottom. When you siphon the beer to your bottling bucket put the transfer tube into the bucket in such a way that the incoming beer creates a swirling motion. Be careful not to splash the beer which will cause oxidation. The swirling motion will mix in the corn sugar solution evenly into the beer which in turn will produce even carbonation throughout your bottles. After the transfer from fermenter to bottling bucket is complete you will proceed with the filling of the bottles. You will need a 4-5 section of 3/8" ID vinyl tubing connected to a bottle filler. If you have a spigot, which is surely the easiest method of bottling, you don't need to create a siphon. You simply connect the tubing to the spigot and open the spigot valve. Decompress the valve into the bottom of a bottle and fill. Place the cap on the top of each bottle. After you have filled all bottles come back and cap them. Store at room temperature for two weeks.

When should I bottle my beer?

We are going to assume that you are making an ale. Provided that you fermented your ale between a temperature of 62-75 degrees we are going to assume that fermentation will be done in two weeks. This is the case 99% of the time within the above temperature range. However it is an assumption that needs to be confirmed with a hydrometer reading. If you are making one of our recipes then an estimate for a final gravity (FG) hydrometer reading will be provided. If you are not making one of our kits, and you have concerns about your fermentation and no FG estimate is provided you can use the following formula as rough guess of what your FG should be. Take your original gravity reading and multiply that by .25. Compare this number with your actual reading and if you are within a few points in either direction go ahead and bottle. If you are more than a few points above your estimated FG you will need to wait a couple more days. After a few days take another reading to see if the FG has dropped. If the FG has not dropped give us a call on our advice line at 800-600-0033.

If I use a Secondary Fermenter, will there be enough yeast in the beer for me to bottle condition?

First, a secondary fermenter is considered a fermenter, usually a carboy, that you transfer your beer into after the primary fermentation is finished. Usually only recommended by MoreBeer! when there is a reason to do so - you are fermenting with fruit and need to get the beer off the fruit, you are making a lager and want to extend aging, you are making a big beer for extended aging, etc.  However, even if you age out your beer in a secondary fermenter there will be enough yeast still left in suspension for bottling. Yeast left in suspension are responsible for consuming the sugar added at bottling and producing the CO2 which then dissolves into suspension as carbonation.