Priming With Corn Sugar vs. DME

December 27, 2011

2011, General posting, Trouble Shooting

When it comes to priming bottles with natural carbonation there are 2 techniques that are among the favorites for homebrewers. 1 is the classic corn sugar and the the other is dry malt extract.  Do they give different results? Yes they do.

The most common one is corn sugar.  It may very from recipe to recipe but commonly it can be seen as 3/4 of a cup of corn sugar is used for a recipe.  I typically use a bit more (closer to a cup) when I do IPA’s.  The reason is that hops are a natural preservative which makes it harder for the yeast to produce more carbonation in the bottles.

The reason why corn sugar is a favorite with homebrewers is that it does not have any flavor that comes with it and also will carbonate faster then using DME.  The downside to using corn sugar is sometimes your bubbles in the bottle can be bigger resembling that of soda.  Which leads to the next way, DME.

You can use DME (dry malt extract) to prime your bottles with as well.  The standard amount is 1 1/4 cups.  The thing about DME in bottles is, that you will get smaller bubbles in your beer.  The down side to it is that it does take a bit longer, I typically wait about 5 weeks until I drink them out of the bottle when I use DME.

I honestly can’t sit here and tell you one is better then the other.  For one, I mostly keg now.  Also really I think it comes down to product of habit at the end.  Most likely if you have used corn sugar and haven’t minded the results then corn sugar is good for you.  Likewise for people in the DME situation.  If you want to try something new though maybe do one batch with DME and one with corn sugar and see the results for yourself.  Until then good luck!

To Recap

Standard Priming for 5 gallon batches

Corn Sugar = 3/4 cup

DME = 1 1/4 cup


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10 Comments on “Priming With Corn Sugar vs. DME”

  1. Casey Coyle Says:

    Sweet! I didn’t know that you could use DME to prime. Learned something new today, thanks dude.


  2. Bob Says:

    I’ve never liked volume measurements for priming sugars, maybe because I invested in a digital kitchen scale 🙂 I always go by weight. For Corn Sugar, I like 1 oz by weight per gallon. Seems to work out ok, though, since I weigh it out to boil BEFORE I get my brew into the bottling bucket, I sometimes end up with more or less volume than I thought and it could end up more or less than the desired 1 oz/gal. So far I haven’t been disappointed, so, I guess it goes to show that there is a wide range of ‘acceptable’ and Weight or Volume doesn’t really matter. I like the TastyBrew calculator for priming by style:


  3. Emily Baisch Says:

    So how about table sugar and honey? Table sugar is cheaper and a lot of brewers I know say it works just fine. Some people say honey helps with head retention, but since the actual amount of sugar in honey can vary, it’s a bit more imprecise.


    • Jay's Brewing Blog Says:

      I wouldn’t use table sugar to prime with in general. Most likely you will get some off flavors that taste like cider. I kinda explain it in this post . In a nutshell it’s hard for yeast to break down sucrose so you need to invert it. As far as for honey, I actually do that with my “Honey Wheats”. It’s super unpredictable. I’ve made the same batch with same amount of honey and one turned out great the other turned into a fountain when you would open it. Like you said it’s because of the amount of sugar that is in the honey – it can very from farm to farm, year to year. With that said, if you are feeling lucky I went low, 1/4 cup of honey. Like I said though, one was great and one was insanely carbonated. So I don’t have a proven method yet. If it is low on carbonation though you can give it some time and it will season a bit better with a little age.



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    […] the corn sugar I almost always use 5 oz of corn sugar, so I won’t write that down.  But if I bottled with DME I will want to write that down.  For kegging did I force pressurize it? And if so how did I like […]

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    […] Corn Sugar Vs DME […]

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