Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bottling Day

I've started a series of articles on homebrewing.  I'm calling it "Febrewary" because I'm clever like that.  In our previous episode, I shared a beer bread recipe to use up some extra supplies that came in the homebrewing kit.  In this episode, the yeast is done fermenting and it's time to bottle the beer.

Sanitize Everything

First things first, sanitize all of your equipment.  You'll need your dozen empty bottles, bottle caps, auto-siphon, hose, and bottle filler.  You'll also need the capper and conditioning sugar fizz drops.  This is why it's important to sanitize all the gear; we're reactivating the yeast with another dose of sugar.  The beer will get a little more alcohol content and it will get its carbonation in the bottle.

Flow Master

Connect the auto-siphon to the bottle filler as you did on brew day.  Remove the airlock and threaded stopper from the fermenter and insert the siphon.  Operate it per the instructions, filling each bottle in turn.  I like to fill to about a thumb's width below the mouth of the bottle.  That gets you a consistent volume for a more professional appearance.  
Go with the flow

Drop the beat

Now just plop in a fizz drop and cap the bottle.  Don't worry, the beer is still flat at this point so it won't go all Menthos and Coke when you put in the drops.  I usually get around 9 or 10 bottles from a gallon fermenter.  
At this point, you're pretty much done.  Set the bottles out of the way for another two weeks of conditioning.  Don't put the bottles in the refrigerator yet; remember, we need the yeast to work just a little bit more to condition the beer.  Remember to clean all your brewing equipment.  The residue has the perfect conditions for life.  It is the proverbial microbial soup.  
Company! Ah-ten-HUT!

Friends with benefits

It helps to have a friend stop by to lend a hand or two.  Operating the siphon and bottle filler takes two hands, especially when you add swapping bottles.  The bottle capper will also occupy at least both hands.  Then add in operating a camera for publishing this to Blogger and you can quickly run out of hands.  Set aside a couple bottles for the friend and you'll have a ready assistant for the next brew day.  See you in two weeks!

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