A Crash Course in Brewing
The second big day in your career as a homebrewer comes two weeks later, after fermentation is complete. Everything outlined below is thoroughly discussed in Chapter 11 - Priming and Bottling. To bottle your beer, you will need:
- 48 (12-oz) bottles
- bottle brush (kitchen or household cleaning variety is OK)
- bottle capper (from homebrew shop)
- bottle caps (from homebrew shop)
- bottling bucket (basically another fermentor bucket with a spigot and bottle filler attached)
- racking cane/siphon/bottle filler (from homebrew shop)
- Sugar (4-5 oz by weight)
1. Prepare your bottles. A typical 5-gallon batch requires two cases (48) of 12-oz bottles for bottling. Thoroughly clean and sanitize the bottles before use. If you are using old bottles, check them inside for dirt or mold deposits. They may need to be scrubbed with a bottle brush to get them really clean. Always clean first, then sanitize.
2. Prepare your bottle caps. Bottle caps must be sanitized before use, and the best way is to soak them in sanitizing solution. Some brewers use flip-top (Groelsch style) bottles. The ceramic part of the flip tops can be sanitized along with the bottles. The rubber seals can be sanitized like the bottle caps.
3. Prepare your priming sugar. We add a priming solution just before bottling to provide carbonation to the beer in the bottle. Boil 3/4 cup (4-5 oz by weight) of corn sugar or 2/3 cup (3.8-4.8 oz by weight) of cane sugar in two cups of water. Cover the pan and allow it to cool.
4. Combine beer and priming sugar. The best method for preparing the beer and priming sugar solution is to use a separate container the same size as your fermentor as a "bottling bucket." Clean and sanitize it and pour the priming solution into it. Next, siphon the beer from the fermenter into the bottling bucket. Don't simply pour the beer into the bucket, and don't let the beer splash as you siphon it in. Instead, put the end of the siphon under the surface of the beer as it fills. The swirling motion of the beer as it enters the bucket will be sufficient to evenly mix the priming solution into the beer without aeration.
If you don't have a bottling bucket, you can gently pour the priming solution into the fermentor and gently stir it. Allow the sediment in the fermenter to settle for 15-30 minutes before proceeding. You can fill the bottles using the bottle filler attachment on your siphon.
5. Bottle. Carefully fill the bottles with the primed beer, place a sanitized bottle cap on each bottle, and crimp it using the bottle capper. At this stage, it is helpful to have a friend operate the capper while you fill the bottles.
6. Store the bottles. Place the capped bottles out of the light in a warm (room temperature) environment (65-75 °F [18-24 °C]). The bottles will take about two weeks to carbonate. The bottles will have a thin layer of yeast on the bottom.