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Beer Carbonation

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Whenever I first started homebrewing, the toughest thing for me get right was priming my beer. My first batches were either under carbonated or over carbonated. A few tweaks here and there and now I have a basic idea. Still, I use more art than science. The following article from gives a more scientific approach and hopefully will help you from experiencing what I did.

by Mark Hibberd (Bayside Brewers Club, Melbourne, Australia)
Most homebrewers carbonate their beer by adding priming sugar at bottling time. Usual instructions call for about a teaspoon of sugar per bottle. But exactly how much sugar is needed and what types of sugar are suitable? And what can you do if a beer is over- or under- carbonated?

Carbonation levels

The amount of carbon dioxide in a beer can usefully be described in terms of the volumes of CO2, i.e. how many volumes of CO2 (at atmospheric pressure) are dissolved in one volume of beer. This terminology is familiar to those who keg. Charts for kegging systems show the gas pressure to apply at each temperature to achieve a particular carbonation level. If this pressure is held for several days, the carbonation reaches its equilibrium value, i.e. the beer will absorb all the CO2 it can at that temperature. In bottle conditioning, the CO2 is produced by the fermentation of an accurate dosing of priming sugar.

If you are not into reading the article, check out this Priming Calculator at

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