Bottling, the bane of brewing.

OK let me get this out of the way, I hate bottling. For me its the worst part of brewing, it even beats out all the washing and scrubbing of equipment (maybe not after a boil over but still). I put bottling days off for a long time, and this last time I moved everything into the kitchen so my wife would complain. The urgency of her frustration pushed me to finally get it done.

So here is what you do, first soak the crap out of the bottles. I wanted to be thrifty and save the environment (mostly thrifty) so I soaked used bottles to remove the labels. This takes a few days if you want them to come off easily. I used a large bucket and filled it with hot water and dish soap. I ended up once again getting lazy so they sat in the solution for a week. Needless to say the labels came off without much effort. Then I drained the bucket, took out the bottles and rinsed each one. Filled the bucked up with a starsan solution and dropped them back in. There they sat several days. When I finally got to the point of actually bottling I had to “recharge” the starsan by churning and getting it mixed up again creating foam. I am not sure if you need to do this, but I wanted foam, it made me feel like everything was well coated.

So then I got everything out, the bottle tree, auto siphon, filler tube, caps and capper etc. I took each bottle out, drained it and stuck them on the tree. Then saved some of the starsan solution and put it in a small container (for the caps). But before I drained any off I dunked anything that would be touching beer into the bucket.

You have to siphon the beer out of the carboy (off the yeast cake) into the bottling bucket. This is where you would add a measured sugar solution (boiled first) but for the first time I used carbonation drops from Northern Brewer. After its transferred you then simply use a tube to fill each bottle. A bottling wand / filler tube works great as it opens and closes as you push it into the bottom of each bottle.

One word of advice (and one you will learn quickly) place something under the filling area. Its easy to over flow a bottle, and the tube tends to drip. I have done this over the dishwasher door in the past, but a pan / bucket will work as well.

So you fill, leaving a small amount of head room (less is better, less oxygen trapped inside). I take a soaked cap and set it on top of each bottle as I fill them. Once they were all filled I went back and added a carb drop and capped each one. And well that’s it… nothing magical happens yet. After a week or so they will dissolve, and the tiny bit of yeast will eat it and carbonate your brew.

This process takes awhile, there are worse things in life (dentist). But for me it still sucks, but I am glad to be done.

Oh and I almost forgot, save some of the brew and check the gravity. I filled up the test beaker and dropped in the hydrometer. Compare this with the original gravity and it gives you the ABV %. And the attenuation of the yeast. That way you can tell if it fermented as planned.



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