Intro: Bottling Your Homebrews
Hey everyone! As some of you might have seen, I recently did an instructable on the basics of home brewing (https://www.instructables.com/id/Intro-To-Home-Brewing/). Well now it is finished and its time to bottle the freshly made beer. Over the entire course of the home brewing process, I have to say that bottling was the most fun part of the process. So lets roll up our sleeves and get started!
Step 1: Supplies
For this process you will need
- One Step (or other cleanser/ sanitizer)
- Bottling bucket (CLEAN 5 gallon bucket)
- Kitchen stove
- Medium pot
- Empty bottles (5 gallons makes 50-ish 12 oz bottles)
- Bottle caps
- Bottle cap press
- Priming sugar
- Your home brewed beer
Step 2: Sanitize the Bottles and Supplies
If you read the tutorial on home brewing or have some experience yourself, you know that sanitizing your equipment is a MUST. If you don't do this step thoroughly, it could easily ruin your hard work. Run your bottles through the dishwasher and through a sanitize cycle (hot water, hot dry). You can repeat this process if you want to be thorough. For all of your other instruments, use some one step or other cleaner to sanitize everything.
Step 3: Cook the Priming Sugar
Priming sugar for those of you who are unaware, is a great way to naturally carbonate alcohol. What the priming sugar does is gives the yeast (yes its still in there and still kicking) just a little bit more food to consume. Whenever yeast consumes sugar, it releases carbon dioxide. This process is called bottle conditioning. If you were kegging your beer (sorry not covered in this tutorial) you could just use a CO2 canister to carbonate your brew. You will need to boil about 2 cups of water before adding the priming sugar to the pot. Let this boil for about 5 minutes to ensure everything is dissolved. Once it is finished, set it aside and let it cool.
Step 4: Transfer Beer to Bottling Bucket
Use the siphon to transfer the beer into the bucket. Be careful not to hold the siphon to close to the bottom of the carboy otherwise you will pull all of the sediment that can get into your beer. It will go a bit quicker if your bottling bucket it lower than your fermenting vessel since gravity will help with the siphoning. Transfer the entire vessel into the bucket.
Step 5: Check the Specific Gravity and Add the Priming Sugar
Now that everything is transferred out of the carboy, you can get a final specific gravity. You will use this and the first reading to find the alcohol percentage. Use the following formula to get your ABV, (Initial SG- Final SG)x 131.25 = ABV% . This batch ended up being 8.2% which was quite a bit more than we were expecting. Once you have your hydrometer readings, add the dissolved priming sugar. Make sure it has cooled and isn't still boiling. Stir in the sugar and then you are ready to officially start bottling. We pulled a test sample to see how it tasted and to see if it was actually beer (it was!).
Step 6: Bottle the Beer
This step is pretty messy until you get in the groove of it and even a little bit afterwards. Use the siphon to transfer the beer from the bucket to the bottles, filling them until there is about an inch left in the bottle. This space will be filled by the CO2 during the bottle conditioning. Keep filling until the bucket is empty or until you reach any particles that may have been siphoned out of you fermenting vessel. Luckily for us, we could transfer the whole bucket to the bottles. If you find that you have a large amount of sediment in the bucket, you can siphon the beer back into the carboy and back to the bucket. Hopefully, each time you are getting less and less sediment in the bottom of your container. We ended up getting 45 bottles of beer after some spillage and the transfer.
Step 7: Cap Them
Capping goes really quickly. You can pick up the larger cap presses at brewery stores but I couldn't recommend the smaller type that I picked up enough. You just put the cap on top of the bottle, put the presses on the cap and pull the handles down until they stop. Make sure the caps seal all the way or the beer will not carbonate correctly. With that you are officially done bottling your home brewed beer. The remainder of the steps are cosmetic ones so the vast majority of the work is now done.
Step 8: Finishing Touches (Optional)
Since my friend who helped me out with this whole project was getting married right as the beer would be finishing its conditioning, I decided to dedicate the brew to the wedding. Therefore, some would obviously be served there. So we spent some time cleaning the bottles up, removing any sticky residue from old labels or beer. Isopropyl alcohol works wonders for cleaning both. I also wanted to add something back to the bottles, so like all beers, it deserved a replacement label to commemorate the occasion. I whipped up some labels in Microsoft publisher and plan to print them out before the wedding.
Step 9: Let the Bottles Sit Until Finished
Now you can just let the bottles sit and bottle condition. They should get nice and fizzy to give you the satisfying hiss when you open up the bottles in a couple of weeks. Overall, this was a very fun learning experience that gives me new appreciation for brewers. I would highly recommend everyone tries home brewing. Thanks for reading!