Basic Brewing #4 — Bottling the Beer

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BrewMoreBeer bottle day

Basic Brewing #4 breaks down the six basic steps that have been listed below for bottling the beer.

1. Prepare and sanitize the equipment
2. Prepare and sanitize the bottles and caps
3. Prepare the priming sugar
4. Mixing in the priming sugar
5. Bottling
6. Storing the bottles

Once the beer has fermented  for a total of two weeks you will be ready to bottle the beer. Keep in mind that after you bottle the beer it will take about two to four weeks before the beer is ready to drink. Bottling the beer will take about an hour and a half to complete with cleaning time added.

Prepare and Sanitize the Equipment (10 minutes)

Gather all of the equipment mentioned in the introduction to this article that is listed in the bottle day section. Fill the bottling bucket with water and sanitizing solution(Beer Brite) and throw in the bottle filler, tubing, brush and the siphon (if you are using one). Whether you are using a bottle drying rack or a standard dishwasher rack make sure you sanitize that as well. Let this sit for about 5 minutes then remove everything and set it to dry. Leave the water in the bucket.

Prepare and Sanitize the Bottles and Caps (20 minutes)

You will need about 50 regular 12 ounce bottles or about 40 Grolsch style bottles to hold all five gallons of beer. You want to clean the bottles first then sanitize them. To do this I plug up one of my sinks for the cleaning portion and use the bucket with the sanitizing solution in the other sink.

dual sink setup described in text above

dual sink setup described in text above

If the bottles have been sitting around for some time and have mold in them make sure you use the bottle brush to clean them thoroughly. For cleaning the bottles I use a mild soap mixed with water, I fill the bottle with the solution, shake it and emptying it out completely.

bottle wash bath with a small amount of mild soap

bottle wash bath with a small amount of mild soap

From there I take the bottle and submerse it completely in the sanitizing solution (Beer Brite), empty it out and place on the drying rack.

sanitizing bottles in beer brite and water solution

sanitizing bottles in beer brite and water solution

Once all the bottles have been cleaned and sanitized rinse the bottle caps (if you are using them) in the sanitizing solution and place them on a paper towel. Drain the bottling bucket of the sanitizing solution and make sure it doesn’t have any debris from cleaning the bottles in it. Now that you have prepared/sanitized the bottles and equipment you can move on to preparing the priming sugar.

Prepare the Priming Sugar (5 minutes)

In order for the beer to be carbonated we add a bit of “priming sugar” to the beer before we bottle it. How does this work? It’s pretty easy, the small amount of yeast left inside each bottle combines with the new sugar to produce alcohol and CO2 just like in the fermenter, except this time there is no where for the carbonation to go.

primary sugar (corn sugar)

primary sugar (corn sugar)

A variety of sugars can be used, but I prefer corn sugar.  To prepare the priming sugar, boil one pint of water, as soon as it starts to boil add in ¾ cup of corn sugar or 2/3 cup table sugar.

mixing in the corn sugar to the boiling water

mixing in the corn sugar to the boiling water

Mixing in the Priming Sugar (5 minutes)

Now it is time, if you have a bottling bucket, to drain the beer from the fermenter into the bottling bucket. Move the fermenter to a location higher than that of the bottling bucket, taking advantage of gravity. If you are using a fermenting bucket with a spigot then connect the plastic hose to the spigot and run the hose into the bottling bucket. If you are using a glass carboy as your fermenter then connect up the siphon and run it into the bottling bucket.

transferring beer from fermenter(carboy) to bottling bucket

transferring beer from fermenter(carboy) to bottling bucket

Next either turn the spigot or start the siphon and let the beer flow from the fermenter into the fermenting bucket.  Before adding the priming sugar take a sample of the young beer to be used to calculate the alcohol content, this would be the final gravity reading.  After gathering the sample continue toslowly pour without splashing the priming solution into the bottling bucket. If you do not have a bottling bucket, pour the solution very slowly, without splashing, directly into the fermenter.

transferring beer from fermenter(bucket) to bottling bucket

transferring beer from fermenter(bucket) to bottling bucket

Bottling the Beer (20 minutes)

Once the bottling bucket is full of the newly primed beer, it is ready to be bottled. Place the bottling bucket at a higher level then where you will be bottling and let gravity help out once again. Carefully fill each bottle with the bottle filler. Fill the bottle until the beer hits the rim of the bottle, then remove the bottle filler, this will provide adequate head space for the beer.

filling up a bottle using the bottle filler

filling up a bottle using the bottle filler

Next place a sanitized bottle cap on the bottle and crimp it using the bottle capper. If you are using grolsch style bottles, simply close the top without touching the seal. It is best to cap the bottles one at a time, the more you expose the beer to the elements, the more likely bacteria will get inside. Having a friend operate the capper while you fill the bottles can greatly help this process. It will also help if you have a wet rag around for a quick wipe of the bottles before storage. Once you have the all of the bottles filled; move onto the next step to learn more about storing the beer.

capping the bottles

capping the beer bottles

Storing the Bottles (2 minutes)

After all of the bottles have been filled and sealed they are ready to be put away for another 2 weeks to develop carbonation. The bottles should be stored in a cool dark location that keeps a constant temperature between 65-75 degrees. Usually this is the same location you kept the fermenter in. After two weeks have passed its time for the final step in the beer making process, drinking the beer.   Basic Brewing #5 – Drinking the Beer.


Comments

8 Responses to “Basic Brewing #4 — Bottling the Beer”
  1. Billy says:

    Just curious where you found that rack you have your bottles upside down on? I’ve been looking for something just like it!

  2. Roko Peros says:

    Billy,

    The bottle drying rack I use actually comes from an industrial restaurant dishwasher. They shouldn’t be too rare, I am sure your local restaurant supply store would have some in stock. Unless you know someone in the restaurant biz that may have extras. Good luck.

  3. Cold brew says:

    Is it required to let them age for 2 weeks in the bottle. If not how long should you let the beer sit to carbonate?

  4. Roko Peros says:

    2 weeks is the going rate so to speak. I have seen them carbonate in 10 days and I have seen them carbonate in 1 month. I would suggest waiting at least 10 days, popping one open day by day and finding your optimal carbonation level. Good luck!

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