How to prime without bottle bucket?

I’ve been brewing the small 1 gal kits that usually come with the fizz tabs. These are convenient but I’d like to know what to do when I brew bigger batches since I don’t have a bottling bucket. I plan on splitting a normal 5 gal batch in half, and so how should I add the priming sugar (not fizz tabs), to the beer? My guess is to boil it, and add very small amounts (maybe 1/2 tbsp) to each 22 oz. bottle before capping? Or can I put a small amount of the priming sugar into each 22 oz. bottle before capping? What would be the difference between doing that and using the fizz tabs. Thanks.

You can measure out the sugar and pour it in directly, without boiling it first. It won’t necessarily give as good of results as using a bottling bucket, but it’ll get the job done. The real difference between it and the fizz tabs is that the fizz tabs are easier to work with - no measuring or hassling with a funnel or anything like that.

The fizz tabs would still be the easiest, compared to boiling the priming sugar to sterilize it and then adding a precise amount to each bottle. I would recommend a bottling bucket. They are just a plastic bucket with a hole for a plastic spigot. Less than a $10 investment. I have gotten 5 gallon buckets from the local supermarket for $1. Frosting buckets from the bakery.

[quote=“bunderbunder”]You can measure out the sugar and pour it in directly, without boiling it first. It won’t necessarily give as good of results as using a bottling bucket, but it’ll get the job done.[/quote]When I bottle-condition, I measure the dry sugar for each bottle with a small cup, a gram scale, and a little funnel; every bottle receives precisely the right amount of sugar and the entire batch is consistently carbonated.

What kind of sugar, corn? Also what amount per bottle. That would sure make bottling a few much easier. I like the prime tabs but the carbonation seems inconsistent.

Once you move to 5 Gal batches it will be a good investment to get a bottling bucket. As mentioned, fairly cheap and you will get consistent results. You can go the route Shadetree goes as well but if you don’t have a scale then that will obviously be more expensive than a bucket.

I think my bottling bucket with spigot was somewhere around $7.99 total.

[quote=“HD4Mark”]What kind of sugar, corn? Also what amount per bottle. That would sure make bottling a few much easier. I like the prime tabs but the carbonation seems inconsistent.[/quote]I use cane. For amount per bottle, this calculator is handy:
Set the beer volume to whatever size container you’re using, 12 or 22 or 1L, and you’ll get the right amount for that volume. For “beer temp” be sure to use the highest temp that the beer reached post-primary, not the current temp if it’s lower, like if you cold-crashed - the temp determines the amount of CO2 in solution.

I will give it a try measuring it out and see if it’s more of a pain than using a bottling bucket. I have a good scale. I was curious if I’d run a risk of contaminating the batch if I didn’t boil the sugar down. It is not recommended in the How to Brew book I guess because of this. I don’t mind the small expense of the bottling bucket, but I was hoping I could bottle my 2.5 gal straight from the 3 gal better bottle (primary) instead of the extra step (and sterilization) of racking to the bottling bucket, then to bottles. Thanks for all your feedback.

Sugar is hygroscopic enough where there is very little risk of it harboring any nasties. I dump sugar right into my fermenter all the time with no ill effect. Just make sure that anything that the sugar touches is sanitized.

I usually keg my beer and bottle any extra for friends or competitions. I fill the bottle and put a cap on top. When the 3-12 bottles (extra beer) are all full, I put my fingers along the rim of the bottle and pour 1/2 teaspoon or so of sugar into the bottle. Replace the cap quickly and crimp it down with a capper. I have not had any infected beers from this process.

If you are going to bottle a large batch, you can add a bit of water to a measured amount of sugar. Add heat to make a syrup. Pour the syrup into the carboy. If you are worried about the hot sugar solution, you can syphon a bit of the beer into your sugar solution to cool it down. Mix the solution gently into the beer in the carboy. I usually let it set 20 min or so to let the solution fully mix. You will get more sediment in your bottles, but it should not be that much.

Do not pour sugar directly into the carboy. You will create nucleation sites and the beer can foam over if it still has a lot of carbon dioxide in solution.

The fizz drops I was using are 4-5 grams each. 1 tsp of corn sugar is also 4-5 grams. On a small batch I think I’ll sanitize a teaspoon and small funnel and add 2 tsp to each 22oz bottle. They recommend 1 fizz drop per 12oz bottle or 2 per 22oz bottle. I’ve noticed that 2 may be a tad too much, but 1 doesn’t cut it, so this method may allow some fine tuning, i.e., 1/2 tbsp or whatever.

I wanted to add it dry because I had a thought that if you boil down the sugar like you’re supposed to, in solution the sugar content might not equal the 2 tsp per 22oz bottle. So FWIW here’s my math if I add it dry directly to the 22oz bottles:
5oz corn sugar per 5gal, so
1 oz corn sugar per 128oz beer(1gal)
22oz bottle/128oz = 0.171875oz sugar or 4.87grams
What do you know? That’s what a fizz tab weighs.

I’ll try it on this batch and if something goes horribly wrong I’ll let you all know. If that happens then I’ll go with the extra step of boiling down and adding to a bottling bucket. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it but I could always skip the bottling bucket by racking from the fermenter directly to the pot that I boiled the sugar in (if I used a big enough pot), then bottling from the pot since I’m using a siphon anyway. Hmmmm…

I think it has to do with head space. I only use a couple of ounces of white sugar to carbonate a 5 gallon keg, but I have to use 1/2-3/4 cup of white sugar to carbonate the same amount of bottles. I may use even a bit more if it is a high carbonation, Belgian style. A 22 Oz. bomber does not have much more head space than a 12 Oz. bottle. You should not need double the sugar to carbonate a larger bottle with the same head space.

If you have a big brew pot, you could use that as a bottling bucket. You may just have trouble with the racking cane tipping over if the pot is not very tall, or the lid is not very heavy. You could also shorten your racking cane to fit the pot.

5g of cane sugar will produce 3.0 atm CO2 in a 22-oz bottle. Cane sugar weighs ~4g per teaspoon.