Bottling Your Beer
For a few weeks, you’ve been drumming your fingers, waiting for your beer to finish fermenting. The airlock has bubbled and gurgled happily, so you know something exciting is going on in your fermenter. Now it’s time to bottle your beer! This is one of the most engaging parts of the homebrew experience, but it can be a little tricky if you’re not prepared. Lucky for you, Bräu Supply has brewed and bottled a lot of beer, so we know all the tips and tricks to make your beer bottling easy and stress-free.
After reading our guide, make sure to check out our amazing all-in-one home brew systems. With Bräu Supply, you can make brewing more efficient and fun!
Always Be Prepared
When you start your bottling, it’s easy to rush through the preparation steps because of the excitement. But make sure to take a step back and prepare your:
- Bottling bucket
- Racking cane
All of these items should be cleaned and sanitized. We’ve used Star San sanitizer in the past with great results.
For a typical 5 gallon batch, you’ll need about 48 12-oz bottles, or two cases worth. It’s never a bad idea to have a few extras on hand, just in case. We even keep some bomber-sized bottles nearby and fill up one or two of them with each batch of beer. They make great gifts! Make sure to check your bottles for chips, cracks, or built up mold and debris at the bottom. You’ll definitely want to either clean or recycle these bottles if they aren’t in perfect condition.
An often missed step is sanitizing your bottle caps. This is a crucial part of the bottling process because even the tiniest amount of dirt on the inside of a bottle cap can skunk your beer. If you’re using bail top bottles, make sure to inspect the o-rings for wear, and sanitize them separately from the rest of the bottle.
An essential part of the bottling process is the use of charging sugar, which is actually just corn sugar. To prepare your charging sugar, boil two cups of water, and add ¾ cup of charging sugar. Allow that to cool, and keep it handy. You’ll need that as part of the bottling process.
While you can bottle straight from your fermenter, we’ve found it is much easier if you have a separate, dedicated bottling bucket. Stack your fermenter on a table, or high countertop, and your bottling bucket on a chair or stool beneath it. Don’t pour the beer from your fermenter into your bottling bucket, as that will only stir up all the yeast, and leftover grains and hops, and cloud your beer.
Instead, use a siphon to cleanly move the beer from one vessel to the next. As you siphon the beer into the bottling bucket, it will naturally create a swirling motion. Slowly add your charging sugar solution as the beer fills up the bottling bucket. This lets the beer mix with the solution without being overly aerated. Let the fermenter sit for about 10 minutes to allow any remaining sediment to settle.
Rack ‘em Up
Most bottling buckets have a spigot at the bottom of the bucket. Attach a racking cane to this spigot so you can control the flow of liquid into each bottle. If you don’t have a spigot, don’t panic, simply use your siphon and attach the racking cane to the end of the tube. The racking cane is an ideal tool because it allows you to control exactly home much beer is put into each bottle with no mess.
Fill each bottle about ¾ full, or leave about 1” of space from the top of the bottle. This allows the bottle to carbonate, and build pressure, without building so much pressure that the bottle explodes. Cap each bottle using a sanitized cap, or bail-top. We think brewing is a process best enjoyed with friends, so have your friend bottle while you cap, or vice-versa.
Finally, carefully store your freshly bottled beer in a space that is cool and dark. Your bottles will take about two weeks to carbonate. When you finally open a bottle, you’ll notice a thin layer of yeast at the bottom of the bottle. This is normal, and you can avoid drinking it by pouring your beer into a clean pint glass, which is the preferred way to enjoy a beer anyway!
It’s no secret that we love beer. It’s why we developed our unique all-in-one home brew systems. If you’re ready to take your homebrew game to the next level, use our professional quality home brew systems. You’ll start brewing like your favorite craft breweries! So open a bottle, and raise a glass to your homebrew success!