Step 12: Kegging or Bottling

After the dry hopping and secondary fermentation, your beer is essentially ready, except for one thing:  it's flat!

If you've got an expensive force carbonation rig, or if you're using a keg system, you can start drinking your beer right away.  However, most homebrewers will need to bottle condition their beer.

Basically, we add some corn sugar to the beer before bottling it, to restart the yeast.  With the beer under pressure in a mini keg or a bottle, the carbon dioxide produced by the yeast will be forced into solution, creating those carbon dioxide bubbles we all know and love!

The first step is to sanitize all your equipment again--you can't be too careful!  I must have made a mistake with one of the kegs, it got an infection, swelled up and burst!

When done, heat up a little water and about 1/2 a cup of corn sugar on the stove, stirring until it's completely dissolved.  Pour that mixture into your bucket (preferably with a spigot at the bottom).

In a process called racking, use the siphon to move the beer from the carboy to the racking bucket, doing your best to leave behind the dead yeast at the bottom and the mess of hops at the top.  

Once it's all in the bucket, it's time to put the beer into the final receptacles.  Using a hose attached to the spigot on your bucket (or the siphon again, if you don't have a spigot) simply fill each bottle or keg as high as you can.  Make sure you're doing this on a towel, I always make a mess.

One reason I like grolsch bottles and mini kegs is the ease of capping them.  With the bottles, you simply use the wire bail on top to seal them.  The kegs have a bung at the top that presses in.  If you're using standard bottles, you will need bottle caps and a capping tool.  Simply heat up the caps and use the capping tool to press each one onto a bottle.

Finally, return the bottles and kegs to the closet and give them another week or two to carbonate.

Here's a quick video of the process:

Thanks man. This is bar far one of the most in depth instuctables I have found about home brewing. <br>Thankyou very very much. I will passing this info on to a lot of people.
<p>Cool, thanks! I'm glad you found it interesting.</p>
Hey I just bought some of those mini kegs so that I can add some Flanders Red into them. Have you ever aged beer in them for an extended period of time? I'm thinking about 6 months to a year.
Picture of 11 gallons of flanders red in 2ndary
Hey, I just noticed this comment, sorry I never replied! <br> <br>I don't know about aging in those mini kegs, you might run into a problem if the yeast gets too active. I had one of my kegs blow up a while back, and hoooooo boy was that a mess! <br> <br>Thanks for posting the picture, a digital patch is on it's way along with a code. Let me know how your brew turns out!
<p>I just bottled the beer this past weekend. Hopefully I have no problems with the mini kegs.</p>
<p>Nice, thanks for the pics! Good luck with those kegs!</p>
<p>Amazing instructable! I'm going to start a 4 gallon batch in a week or so, wish me luck!</p>
<p>Good luck! Let us know how it turns out!</p>
<p>This instructable was great. I just got finished with my 2 week wait on a Bobblehead 60 minute IPA here in Virginia Beach. I have to say, though&hellip;. some bottles tasted good, some tasted like the lame-o Mr. Beer batch I brewed before that. My guess is that I either didn't cool the wort off quick enough (actually, it cooled largely by losses to ambient temp till the next morning when I gave it the ice bath), or something was not as sanitized as it should have been. Anyone with tricks or tips, I welcome them. I am encouraged by your instruction here to go start on the next one, though!</p>
Bit of a late reply, sorry! From my professional brewer brother--he says 99% of &quot;off&quot; flavors in beer come from improper sanitation. You can never scrub your equipment too much!<br><br>Glad you found the instructable helpful, I'd love to hear how your next batch turns out!
About secondary fermentation, do i need to pitch a little extra yeast or i just need to pour some dissolved sugar? And i'm not sure about opening the carboy, I just want to make sure it will not be infected or anything and ruin my beer.
Generally you don't need to add any yeast or sugar during secondary, there's usually enough live yeast and sugars, and the primary purpose of secondary fermentation is clarification.<br><br>As long as your siphon and secondary carboy are sterile, there should be no chance of infection. Those are the only two serious points of contact, and the yeast should still be active, making the beer resistant (though not immune) to infection from another beastie.<br><br>Good luck with your beer, let me know how it turns out!<br>
For Sure! I'm going to dry hop it tomorow, the bad thing is I don't have another carboy (this one is a 4,5L glass gallon of wine from a cristmas kit) so i think is just open, dump some Hops inside and then put the airlock back on. I will post some pictures as it goes. <br> <br>Also, the hops is dry hops that I found in a natural products store, it's used for tea, so I don't know if it's going to work for the aroma. If not, i will just bottle it up and let it rest for another week of so.
You can always siphon it into a (sterile) bucket, clean the carboy, and then return it. If you don't, just be really careful not to upset all the sediment at the bottom of the carboy when you go to bottle it!<br><br>I don't think the hops you found will be a problem unless they've been chopped really fine. If so, wrap them in coffee filters or a hop sock to try and keep all that particulate matter out of the beer.
<p>I opened one of my bottles of beer today. It was bitter because of the hops and it was the most fizzy beer i ever drinked! (too much sugar on the bottling) and i wsa my first sucessfull beer batch, Thanks alot for this incrible instructable, now I feel confident for bigger projects!</p>
<p>Right on, glad to hear everything turned out well! I usually have the opposite problem, with beer that's a tad too flat.</p><p>Watch out though, my brother the brewmaster has overdone it on the sugar when bottle conditioning and ended up with beer he brewed in the winter exploding in the shed that summer! </p>
<p>Ha, do you believe that 3 of my 16 bottles have exploded?! It's was interesting though, they all braked a piece of the bottle mouth. Oh, they were twist cap too... I know that i shouldn't use twist caps but it was the only option I had at the monment.</p>
<p>Wow, that didn't take long! Watch out for those twist tops, that's supposedly a big no-no.</p>
I always laugh at people who think they have to buy out their local HB store and have every piece of equipment ever made. You don't need much of anything to make beer. You only need or have to have it if you want to reproduce the exact results. Remember beer has been around longer than all those fancy modern toys and gadgets. Brewing in food safe plastic is just fine.The co2 produced won't allow o2 to oxide the beer. Short term storage is even fine. You just don't want beer in plastic long term.
You need to use glass for carboy. Pet plastic will let in air at micro scale.
(Just to clarify - when you say &quot;degrees&quot;, you mean Fahrenheit, yes?)
Whoops! I've been trying to be more international with my use of units, but I totally spaced it on this one. I've fixed it now, if I missed any let me know!
All looks good to me!<br><br>(Moves &quot;build home brewery&quot; further up &quot;to do&quot; list...)
Great stuff, Ian!<br /> Having brewed my own beer for many years, I fully enjoyed reading your journey and&nbsp;especially&nbsp;loved the video segments where beer knowledge was shared.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong><em>Beer; science!</em></strong>
Thanks Mike! <br>Brewing your own beer is always a rewarding experience. I've found doing it with an expert like my brother around really adds an extra dimension, and thought I'd share it with everyone!

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