Bottling (246th new thing).

January 17, 2012 § 1 Comment

The time had finally come for me to bottle my homebrew, and on Day Two Hundred Forty-Six I did just that. Prior to bottling, I checked many homebrew forums for tips on the process. There was far more equipment and actions involved in this step compared to the activity of making wort.

First of all, I needed about fifty twelve-ounce bottles to siphon my beer into. We had been saving up our empties on the back porch for several weeks, so I was set. Then I had to santize all the bottles. I started by soaking them in a bathtub full of hot water and began to peel off the labels. The Guinness Black lager insignias came off with astounding ease, but the Bell’s Two Hearted bottles proved much more difficult. In the end, I had an assortment of naked bottles, but mostly ones with half peeled stickers still attached. The process of clawing at the labels took quite awhile, and then I still had to sanitize the beasts.

Instead of soaking the bottles in a bucket of sanitizer and then rinsing them individually, I opted for the neat dishwasher method. I loaded all fifty of the brown glass containers into our machine and set the cycle to “sanitize.” That also took a bit longer than expected, but in the meantime I began to clean and organize the rest of my tools.

Before bottling the brew I boiled the caster sugar included in my kit and dumped it into my second five gallon bucket, the bottling bucket. I then siphoned the wort into this container. The sugar aids in the carbonation of the beer while it’s in the bottles. The dregs of hops and grains at the bottom of my original fermentation bucket was gross. It looked like the bottom of a sick bag, and smelled like a rotten brewery. I hoped that wasn’t any indication of how the beer itself would taste. After all of this was completed, it was time to begin the bottling process.

I set the full bottling bucket atop the counter and created an area on the floor for me to allow the liquid to fill the bottles. Fortunately I had a bottle filling attachment linked to the siphoning tube which would plug up when lifted into the air. I sat on my stool with the sanitized bottles lined up in front of me, the siphoned tube full and slid the bottle filler into my first container. Within no time the bottle almost overflowed onto the floor. I lifted the tube out of the first twelve ounce glass and slipped it into the next. This was easy, albeit quite messy as I consistently allowed the booze to reach above the lip of the glass.

After I had filled about twelve of the bottles, I carefully rested the siphon and began to cap. I placed the tin topper on each bottle, brought down the capping tool centered on top, and squeezed until the top secured itself to the bottle. I went through all the filled pieces, feeling a bit like an assembly line worker. Once I had placed the capped bottles into a storage container, I continued filling and capping until all the beer was siphoned from the bucket.

I had made quite a mess of the kitchen floor, but I was quite thrilled with my progress; in two weeks I would be able to taste alcohol that I had made!

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