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How to Bottle Homemade Brew

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Hello fellow homebrewers/acoholic drink makers.  Glass beer bottles are a great way to store your homemade liquors and in this instructable I will attempt to cover all the basics of bottling.
1.       Gathering Bottle Supplies
2.       Cleaning and Sterilizing
3.       Filling the Bottles
4.       Sealing the Bottles

Equipment:
Cleaner
Sterilizer
Bottle Brush
Handheld Drill (optional, may need a hacksaw if using the drill. I’ll tell you why later)
Bottling Bucket
Plastic Tubing
Bottle Filler Tube Attachment (or funnel or hose clamp, but you really want the bottle filler wand)
Bottle Drying Rack (optional)
Bottle Caps
Bottle Capper
Bottles!!!
 
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Step 1:

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Ok so when gathering bottles remember we do NOT want twist off tops!  I repeat, we do NOT want twist off tops.  Here is where you can get bottles:

Purchase from liquor store (Will need to clean and sanitize after you finish digesting the contents)
Free from your local recycling center (make sure to clean and sanitize those bad boys, they can get bad)
Free from friends (will still need to clean and sanitize) 
Purchase from local brew store (bottles already clean, still need to sanitize) 

I’ll let you choose which way you want to get the bottles.  But for this instructable, I’m am going to assume the bottles need cleaning.

Step 2:

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For cleaning here is the cool trick I picked up from a friend.  Fill your bathtub with water and Oxiclean and fully submerge all of your bottles.  I let them soak for 30 min or so.  While they are soaking you can get your bottle brush ready.

Step 3:

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Ok so anyone can use the bottle brush, it’s a brush.  However by taking a hacksaw to the handle and cut as shown.  You can now install your brush into your handheld drill.  This will hopefully cut down a lot of the time needed for cleaning.

So after the bottles have soaked, use your powered bottle brush and scrub out the insides of the bottles.  Proceed to rinse your bottle and dry afterward.  (may have a future instructable on a spray rinse device that is triggered by pushing the bottles down)

If you have a circular bottle drying rack like me, you can make a sweet beer bottle Christmas tree!

Step 4:

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Next we need to sanitize the bottles about 15 min before we start bottling.  To sanitize I mix 3 gallons of water and some Easy Clean sanitizer (just follow the directions).  This can be purchased online or at your local brew store.  I get the bottles fully submerged, leave for 30 sec., empty, and set aside to bottle.

Step 5:

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Now we get to the fun part, filling the bottles!

What I like to use is a bottling bucket (a bucket with a spigot installed near the bottom), some plastic tubing, and a bottle filler.  The bottle filler makes life real easy and I recommend it, but you could drain straight from the hose and use the spigot to stop the flow if you wanted.  They also make hose clamp attachments that would replace the bottle filler also.

To use bottle filler, simply attach it to plastic hose, and open spigot.  The bottle filler is designed to only allow liquid flow when the bottle filler touches the BOTTOM of the bottle.
Bottle Filler Tip 1:  With the bottle filler inside of the bottle, fill the bottle to the top.  When you pull out the bottle filler you will have about an inch of headspace (air gap in the bottle) which is perfect for beer bottling.
Bottle Filler Tip 2:  The bottle wand is an ingenious little tool.  But if you have junk in your beverage, it can get clogged and then you'll hate it forever.  Take steps to filter the beverage.

To use the hose clamp, press clamp close around the plastic hose, open spigot, release clamp to fill bottle to desired volume.  Close clamp again to stop liquid flow.

Step 6:

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Capping beer bottles is easy once you have the right equipment.  Place the unused beer bottle cap on the beer bottle opening.  Using the bottle capper shown, place bottle capper device on top or bottle cap.  Evenly pull the two handles down.  And you’re done.

Step 7:

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In conclusion, there are a few things I skipped over that are crucial to your precious liquors quality; such as controlling the amount of carbonation or the temperature of the bottles.  However these rules differ for every different liquor being stored.  All I can say is do your research and you’ll be fine.  Thanks for checking out my instructable, questions and comments are appreciated.  Thanks!

P.S.  Above is a layout plan of some kind of bottle cleaning workstation.  I would love to build something like this but I live in an apartment.  So I would need to make it so that it folds up or packs away nicely.  I'm open for ideas.
mbecks2 years ago
everyone here is going to hate this comment I bet. I break a huge rule when bottling by following the lessons of my older brother and father. I do no sanitize my bottles before bottling. I clean them good after drinking the beer from them and leave them up side down to dry and don't flip them back over until I use them. You may end up with 1 or 2 bad bottles that get contaminated per batch but when you have 50+ bottles who cares! I save hours by not doing that step non of us have had issues.
hitachi83 years ago
i always bottle to the part where the bottle is getting narrower. is there any problem with that? (heineken bottle- nonbeer brew)
We sell easy clean in our shop, although I am not a fan of one-step cleaner/sanitizer & believe iodophor or star san is best for sanitation: easy clean IS a no-rinse sanitizer.
MrBippers3 years ago
Easy clean is a cleaner, not a sanitizer. It's pretty similar to the oxyclean you are using in the first step. If you want to sanitize after cleaning, you should use something like Star San.
We sell easy clean in our shop, although I am not a fan of one-step cleaner/sanitizer & believe iodophor or star san is best for sanitation: easy clean IS a no-rinse sanitizer.
This layout for bottling would be great. So methodical, you'd never have to worry about contamination.

I am a homebrewer and my girlfriend, inspired by our constant confusion over what is in each bottle, made these awesome chalkboard labels. Check them out.
http://www.etsy.com/shop/SillyLadyHandsomeMan?ref=pr_shop_more
This is a great overview! Lots of good tips. :)