How Much Sugar Should You Put in Home Brew Beer?

Sugar is an essential component of home brew beer as it provides food for the yeast to consume. From boiling to fermentation and bottle conditioning, sugar is indispensable, so you need to know the right amount to include. So, how much sugar should you put in home brew beer?

The amount of sugar to add depends on a few factors and there is no specific amount you need to add to your home brew beer. How much sugar to add depends on the size of the beer gallon, the type of sugar you intend to use, the stage of the home brew process, and the amount of alcohol you want. 

The rest of this post reveals how much sugar you can add to your home brew beer in line with a handful of factors to consider. 

How To Know How Much Sugar To Add to Home Brew Beer 

You can determine how much sugar to add to your home brew beer by carefully analyzing the factors we have mentioned briefly above.

They include:

  • Alcohol by volume (ABV)
  • Primary or secondary fermentation
  • Type of sugar 
  • Gallon size

Alcohol by Volume (ABV)

If you want to increase your beer’s Alcohol By Volume (ABV) level, you need to add more sugar to the beer’s primary fermentation process because more sugar leads to a higher alcohol content. You can do this in the first fermentation stage of the homebrew.  

How Much Sugar To Add? 

To increase the alcohol by volume content of your homebrew, the table below shows the amount of sugar to add and the potential alcohol in gallons.

Added Sugar Potential Alcohol in Gallons
Pounds of Sugar1 Gallon (3.8 Liters)5 Gallons (18.9 Liters)10 Gallons (37.9 Liters)
1 lb. (0.45 kg)5.9 %1.2 %0.6 %
2 lb. (0.9 kg)11.9 %2.3 %1.2 %
3 lb. (1.36 kg)17.7 %3.6 %1.8 %
4 lb. (1.8 kg)23. %4.8 % 2.3 %
5 lb. (2.27 kg)29.5 %5.9 %3.0 %
6 lb. (2.72 kg)35.4 %7.1 %3.6 %
7 lb. (3.18 kg)41.38.3 %4.1 %
8 lb. (3.63 kg)47.2 %9.5 %4.8 %
9 lb. (4.08 kg)53.1 %10.7 %5.4 %
10 lb. (4.54 kg)59.0 %11.9 %5.9 %

Primary or Secondary Fermentation 

Most recipes will mention the type of sugar you should use and the right amount to add during the primary fermentation stage of your beer or while boiling the wort. 

Other recipes may recommend using sugar alternatives like malt extracts or honey.

Although adding sugar during fermentation will raise the specific gravity of your beer, most recipes still permit it. Check out this post for more on gravity in homebrewing.

In secondary fermentation, which is also known as bottle conditioning or carbonation, you add the right amount of priming sugar to increase the CO2 in the beer.  

How Much Sugar To Add 

You can use the chart for alcohol by volume (ABV) to determine the amount of sugar you can use during or before primary fermentation if the recipe doesn’t spell it out. 

For bottle conditioning (secondary fermentation), the application of sugar is different. In this case, you’ll boil the sugar and mix it with the entire batch, which includes yeast. 

The measurements for the three most common sugar types used in bottle conditioning are:  

  • For corn sugar, boil 3/4 cup
  • For white sugar, boil 2/3 cup
  • For dry malt, boil 1/4 cup

Use a priming sugar calculator, if you want more precise guidance on the right amount of sugar to add. You can also use the calculator if you want to increase carbonation in your beer via bottle conditioning. 

If you add too much sugar at this stage, you can ruin the entire brew or get results that are very different from what you expected.

Type of Sugar 

There are different types of sugar, ranging from sucrose (table sugar) to other variants like dextrose (corn sugar) and brown sugar. 

Each type has unique measurements to include in your homebrew, whether you’re boiling, fermenting, or conditioning. 

Sugars are also part of the flavors of beers. Some recipes may prefer these sugar-rich ingredients, such as: 

  • Molasses 
  • Honey 
  • Malt extracts
  • Candi sugar 
  • Light liquid malt extract 

All of these sugars come with unique flavors, and their recipes determine the amount to include. 

How Much To Add 

If you’re bottle conditioning, refer to the secondary fermentation section where you have the three major types of sugars and how much you can include in your homebrew. The priming sugar calculator again will be of good use here. 

In the primary fermentation or wort-boiling stage of your homebrew, the recipe determines the type of sugar to add and the exact amount. 

Since recipes vary a lot, some might not require sugars which is why the amount here depends majorly on the recipe. 

Gallon Size

When fermenting your homebrew, conditioning, or boiling wort, you add sugar per gallon.

How Much To Add 

How much to add all depends on what you are looking to achieve. If you want to achieve a high ABV, you can refer to the sugar table for it in the ABV section. 

The general rule is to use one ounce per gallon if you’re looking for more carbonation with priming sugar. Five gallons will, therefore, require five ounces of the priming sugar you are using.

Note: It’s always a good idea to boil sugars, allow them to cool, and add them to your homebrew. It’ll sanitize them and remove any dirt present. The boiling also removes oxygen in the sugar to avoid further oxidation in secondary fermentation. 

Conclusion 

Sugar is necessary to strengthen the beer, improve carbonation, add more flavors, and lighten the beer. All these lead to the rich, crisp taste that every homebrewer is looking for. However, you must know the right amount of sugar to add at different stages of your home brewing. 

A priming sugar can help with the exact amount of sugar for conditioning. The ABV table for alcohol is a good resource if you want more alcohol. For fermentation and other purposes, recipes provide the best guidance. 

Here’s more on how to make your beer stronger using sugar.

About HomeBrewAdvice

Hello, my name is Simon. Together with a group of writers I write about brewing beer and making wine. We all share a passion for the great things in life, such as making stuff from scratch.

The business of HomeBrewAdvice is to bring you great information, stories and product reviews from brewing at home, and making wine


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