« on: December 20, 2014, 06:57:47 AM »
Not a frequent poster here, but I've decided to post a review of Prime Dose Carbonation Tablets. When I was considering purchasing these tablets I couldn't really find much in terms of detailed user feedback. So I hope this may help a few of you who are on the fence. I purchased a bottle of Prime Dose a couple of months ago with the intentions of using it in a stout. I ended up fermenting about 5.50 gallons and wanted to keg the first 5 and bottle the rest. I thought it would be a great way to quickly and easily bottle the roughly leftover .50 gallon. Here is my experience.
Prime Dose has the tagline of "carbonate like the pros!". Cost is $20 per bottle for 200 tablets. Your usage rates for normal carbonation (roughly 2.4 volumes if I had to guess) is 2 tablets per 12oz bottle and 4 tablets for 22oz bottle. You simply drop them into your bottles, fill with beer, and cap. Super simple.
After kegging my first 5 gallons I then sanitized roughly 6 bottles. I have a spigot on my fermenter, so I was easily able to attached my bottle filler to the fermenter. Right before I filled, I dropped 2 tablets into each bottle, fill and cap. Again, super simple. Almost immediately, the tablets opened up and began to release the sugar and yeast. So far so good! I ended up with 5 full bottles and placed them in my fermenting room at 70 degrees.
1 Week Later:
Time to check on those bottles! I grab one and notice something very weird and strange floating on the top of the beer? It does NOT look appealing at all. Then I realize - it's the gel cap from the tablet. You have to be kidding me. After some google searching I see that there are other users who are also experiencing this. Supposedly, the company that manufactures these claims they had a problem in 1% of their batch where the gel caps would not dissolve completely. Only 1%? Really? I work in manufacturing and I know exactly what that means - it's either 10% or it's the entire lot. They are definitely down playing the number of tablets affected. Just my opinion so don't hammer me about it. After some continued searching I see that some users are vigorously shaking the bottles in an effort to get the capsule to fully dissolve. At this point I have nothing to lose, so back down to the fermentation room for some vigorous shaking! I shake all 5 bottles. No more gel capsule! They seemed to have dissolved! Or so I thought.
An additional week later:
Time to crack open a bottle (after it had been refrigerated of course). Prior to opening, I do not see any signs of the capsule. So I open it up and pour it into my glass - just to watch a gelatinous mess plop right into my glass. Absolutely disgusting! It didn't dissolve at all - instead - it just sank to the bottom. What the hell. So, I grab a strainer and proceed to pour my beer from one glass, through the strainer, into another glass. There it is sitting in the strainer - a gelatinous goo that almost looks like a newborn jelly fish. Yuck! Talk about being turned off. I could NEVER pour this beer for a guest and expect them to drink it after they see what plops out of the bottle. At least - not until I've filter it through a strainer.
OK...so...I got that out of the way. You get the point. They have a problem with the gel capsule that needs some serious fixing.
Newborn jelly fish aside - I actually found the carbonation level to be developing nicely. It had only been 2 weeks and I do know that these capsules take a little longer. But from what I could tell - you could see how evenly and nicely the beer was carbonating. So they got that right for sure - whatever the mixture of sugar and yeast is - it works and I can tell that these tablets will give very consistent and repeatable results each and every time.
The beer is delicious and from what I can tell, the tablets have NOT affected the flavor in any negative way at all. No off flavors, no excess sweetness - nothing - nice and clean.
In summary: the only flaw is also the BIGGEST flaw - the capsule not dissolving properly. Whenever I crack open the remaining bottles, I will have to pour it through a strainer. Luckily, this beer can take the extra frothiness that comes from that. Not sure it would be OK to put an IPA through that. If I offer up the bottled version to a guest - no way I can pour it in front of them. It'll come with the caveat of "sit right here and wait while I pour it for you". That's actually tougher than you think as many guests like to follow me to my beer room to check things out. Or - maybe I'm the only one to drink the remaining 4 bottles seeing as how it'll be on tap shortly anyway. Yeah...that's probably the answer.
I am now stuck with 190 tablets of which I have NO intention of ever using again. That's a shame - because so far this product is definitely delivering on the promise of "consistent and repeatable levels of CO2".
Back to boiling priming sugar on my stove. A technique which has never let me down.