READ ALL 6 PARTS OF THE TAP THIS HOME BREWING GUIDE HERE
Bottling is easily the most tedious, pain in the ass, and time consuming part of the home brewing process. It takes so long to peel the labels off of every bottle, clean them, and sanitize them. I think this is why once most home brewers get serious they switch over to kegging, but that is a whole different subject that I might cover later. Over the past several years I have learned a few tips that make the bottling process much easier, faster, and less painful (Mostly from Griz over at SF Brewcraft).
You will notice that in this post I am actually bottling a different beer than the one we started with in the other posts. This is because some bastard broke into my apartment and stole my laptop and camera which had all the pictures on it from bottling the IPA a few weeks ago, and the reason its taken me so long to get around to posting this… This beer is a light blond summer ale that I am brewing for a houseboat trip we are going on up north later this month. You will easily notice the difference in color (above).
How to bottle:
1) While your beer is in the secondary fermentation stage, as described in the last post, start collecting bottles! It sucks when your beer is ready and you don’t have enough bottles, then you are up all night drinking just to have enough for the next day... Well at least that is what happens to me. Buying them is stupid because it costs almost half of what buying beer costs. You want to use bottles that are not twist off and are dark in color. Some have labels that are easier to peel off as well, so you might want to lean toward those. I recommend peeling them off as you are drinking and rinsing them out when you are done to make cleaning much easier later on.
Chris scrubbing away:
2) How do you know when your beer is ready to bottle? You should notice the color of the beer start to clear up and appear less cloudy. There will be less or no bubbles on the top. Also any recipe will give you a good guideline. Once you notice this and you are ready to bottle CAREFULLY move your secondary fermentor to a place at least waist high off the ground and let it settle overnight.
Notice all the solids down the bottom leaving a nice clear beer even though the picture sucks:
3) Clean and sanitize all of your bottles
a. Scrub them out with a bottle brush
b. Stick them in the dishwasher using only the RINSE and DRY setting. Don’t put any soap in! The heat will be enough to sanitize. If you do not have a dishwasher just stick all your bottles in the oven without preheating and set it to its lowest temperature. Leave it for about 10 minutes and you will be all set. (Best trick I learned from SF Brewcraft. Its so much easier than any other method!)
4) Take the bottling dextrose and dissolve it in about a cup of water. It will usually come already portioned in a separate bag for you.
Dextrose and water:
5) Pour the dextrose solution into the secondary fermentor slowly, and stir it with a sanitized stirring rod very gently for about 2 minutes. Remember we want to prevent oxidation and we do not want to agitate the solids that have fallen to the bottom. Why are we adding the dextrose? During the fermentation process the yeast converted all available sugars into alcohol and CO2. We allowed the CO2 to burp out of the airlock. In order to carbonate the beer we are introducing a small amount of dextrose to the beer so the yeast can convert it in the bottle and produce CO2, which is now trapped in the bottle by the cap, thus carbonating the beer.
Pouring the dextrose solution:
6) Allow the beer to settle for a few minutes from the stirring in the previous step.
7) Meanwhile, sanitize your siphon, tube, and filler using sanitizing solution.
8) Then - sanitize your caps by sticking them in a small pot and covering with water. Bring them just to a boil and turn of the heat. Now you are good to go.
9) To begin bottling first fill your siphon with water. I use an auto start siphon because they are way easier. All you have to do is pump a few times to get them started. You can do this by filling something with water and starting the siphon in that, while pressing the bottle filler into a cup or something. Make sure all the stuff you use is sanitized.
Filling up the siphon:
11) Now you are ready to start filling bottles. Insert the bottle filler into the bottle and press down. Fill it all the way to the top because the volume taken up by the bottle filler leaves just enough room for you to cap once it is removed.
Set the bottle aside and move on to the next bottle and repeat until you are finished. Do not cap each bottle until you have filled all of your bottles. If you let them sit for a while they will start to create some CO2 and push the oxygen out of the bottle. This will help reduce the risk of oxidation (that is another major tip I learned from Griz). It also helps to have a friend helping out to bottle more than any other step in the process.
I honestly don't know why I used to do this by myself. It took like 4 hours. With one other person, in this case my roommate Chris, it knocked it down to about an hour.
Chris filling the first bottle:
Fermentor almost to the bottom. As you work your way down, you should slowly move the siphon in, trying not to disturb all the solids on the bottom:
12) Once your done filling, cap all the bottles at once. You are probably using a butterfly capper. You should practice capping with it a few times on an empty bottle before you start, but it is pretty easy to use.
13) Stick all your bottles into a box and store them in a dark place for at least 14 days or as long as your recipe calls for.
14) Now you are done. But you do have that beer in the hydrometer tube that you filled in the beginning. Check out the reading and do the calculations as described in the fermentation post. Our IPA finished up at 1.015 making it around 6.9% ABV. Go ahead and take a sip of the sample. It will give you a pretty good idea what your beer is going to taste like!
WOOT! One more post for this and that is drinking it. I can hardly wait…