Chapter 11

Priming and Bottling

What Sugar Should I Prime With?

You can prime your beer with any fermentable that you want. Any sugar: white cane sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, even maple syrup can be used for priming. The darker sugars can contribute a subtle aftertaste (sometimes desired) and are more appropriate for heavier, darker beers. Simple sugars, like corn or cane sugar, are used most often though many brewers use dry malt extract too. Ounce for ounce, cane sugar generates a bit more carbon dioxide than corn sugar, and both pure sugars carbonate more than malt extract, so you will need to take that into account. Honey is difficult to prime with because there is no standard for concentration. The gravity of honey is different jar to jar. To use honey, you will need to dilute it and measure its gravity with a hydrometer. For all sugars in general, you want to add 2-3 gravity points per gallon of beer to prime.

Be aware that malt extract will generate break material when boiled, and that the fermentation of malt extract for priming purposes will often generate a krausen/protein ring around the waterline in the bottle, just like it does in your fermenter. Simple sugars don't have this cosmetic problem and the small amount used for priming will not affect the flavor of the beer.