A flat beer can lead to all kinds of flavor issues and doesn’t have quite the same refreshing qualities you want out of your brew. An over carbonated beer can lead to explosive results and also provide a flavor profile you’re not looking for. So lets take a minute to remind ourselves about proper priming.
First lets talk about our sugar source. I know most people will use corn syrup for their source. But I’m not a fan of processed foods so I’ve tried several other sticky items that I could can get my hands on, all with successful results. Below is a list of items I’ve tried. There are tons of other solutions that our yeast will eat but I can only speak to these.
- Honey and brown sugar are great if you don’t mind the flavor addition.
- Juices add a ton of flavor. When determining how much to use I treat it like honey when calculating how much to add. Be sure to buy something with zero preservatives or you’ll kill your yeast. Citric acid (sodium citrate) is just fine however as it’s all natural.
- Priming tabs are super easy when you’re bottling but I’ve never used them while kegging.
- Corn sugar. Works like a charm and is cheap, but I’m not a fan personally.
- Maple Syrup. Another great flavor profile but I’d say in my experience this flavor comes across more than honey or brown sugar when used for priming. Also I find I don’t need as much as the online calculators state. I typically use an ounce or two less.
Next lets talk about measurement. Finding the amount of sugar you need for your carbonation level is not an exact science… oh… wait… IT IS! Yesssss. There are a huge number of online calculators to do the math, so just make sure to know what style of beer you’re going for and how much CO2 you want and you’ll be fine. http://www.northernbrewer.com/priming-sugar-calculator/
Temperature. Our little yeast fellas are pretty tired by the time it comes to carbonation but if you had healthy yeast pitched in at the beginning of fermentation you should have plenty of yeast buddies ready for action. Kicking the temperature up a bit to say the 70°F-75°F will get your yeast back to feasting. Just be sure to do it gradually, you don’t want to kill them in the process from shock.
Leak in your lid. If you’re bottling or kegging you could have gas escaping somewhere. Check your caps and lids for any leaks.
Dead yeast. This is a big problem and most likely you wont have made it this far in your brewing to realize you’re not making the beer you set out to brew. Any number of reasons could lead to this and since you should have already identified this problem before getting to this step we’ll save that discussion for another post.