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Adjusting Priming Sugar For Different Size Bottles

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  • Adjusting Priming Sugar For Different Size Bottles

    So, I have noticed over the years that when I bottle a batch in multiple bottle sizes that the larger bottles are more carbonated than the smaller bottles. My guess is that this is a function of the ratio of head space to total volume. This effect is most noticeable when using very large bottles such as 750 ml bottles and larger.

    My question. Does anyone know of a calculator that compensates for bottle size when determining the amount of priming sugar? The John Palmer nomogram in his "How to Brew" and "Brewing Classic Styles" only considers the beer temperature and the desired volumes of CO2. I have some very large bottles (~42 oz.) and I want to get the carbonation at least in the ball park.

  • #2
    Hmmm never heard of this before. Although your ratio:headspace makes sense, volumes of CO2 is set by the amount of priming sugar.
    I’ve never seen a priming calculator that takes into account bottle size. I’m sure if bottle size mattered there would be a calculator for it.


    • #3
      Loopie, there is a an adjustment for bottle size in a way. The recommended amount of priming sugar for kegged beers (the equivalent of a 5 gallon bottle) is much less than for 12 oz. bottles. There are just no recommendations for any size containers in between.


      • #4
        Mark: Since I do neither any bottling, nor use priming sugars, I should probably be the last one to respond to this.
        Your head space/volume theory is not an invalid one. Too little head space, and pressure rises quickly inhibiting yeast metabolism.
        I would suggest the following approach if you believe the recommendations for both bottle and kegs are correct.
        We will make a guess that the relationship is "linear".
        Make a graph. On the axis at the bottom, make this the "volume" axis (gallons or ounces) (or feet or pounds or furlongs?).
        On the upright axis put that in priming concentration (like ounces sugar per ounce (or gallon) beer).
        Put in the two values you trust (12 oz. bottle, 5 gallon keg).
        Draw a straight line between the two values on your graph.
        Now you can look at your proposed bottle size (the bigger ones) on the scale on the bottom (like 42 oz), and draw a straight line up to where it hits the line you drew between your two "known" values.
        At that point on the line, draw a horizontal line to the scale on the upright axis that tells you your priming concentration.

        You might try that. If it works out well for you, share the info here!

        If it doesn't work out, share that information as well, and perhaps with some collective head scratching, someone can come up with a better solution.

        I'm about 40 years rusty on priming bottles, so this is just my best guess.


        • #5
          BTW Mark. If you send me the numbers of priming that you trust for 12oz, och 5 gal. respectively, I'd be happy to make that graph for you.
          I'm kinda' nerdy that way.


          • #6
            Dr. Pivo, The function cannot be linear in general (although it may be close to linear in the range of 8 ounces to 5 gallons) because a linear function would eventually cross the X-axis (representing bottle volume) at some value that would correspond to zero on the Y-axis (mass of priming sugar). Although the quantity of priming sugar per unit volume of beer would continue to decrease for larger volumes, it could never be zero. I think that the equation must be the form of an exponential with a fractional constant.

            BTW I am kinda nerdy that way as well., I am just not inclined to buy the equipment to measure bottle pressure and bottle a batch in 8 different size bottles to do a curve matching exercise on Excel. I would use the data if someone else were to do the experiment.