My First Homebrewing Experience – Bottling
Posted on November 25, 2009 by mike
Bottling My First Homebrew
The brewing is done, the fermenting is complete, all that is left is to bottle my homebrew. I spent some time really looking over my The Complete Joy of Homebrewing Third Edition by Charlie Papazian and went to work.
The most important thing to keep in mind was sanitation. It was really important that I didn’t do anything to ruin my beer, meaning, getting any organic yeast inside of the bottles that could potentially skunk my beer. I filled up my little tub with sanitizer and started to clean all of my bottles. This was pretty easy since these bottles were new. There was no scrubbing needed, just a good rinsing. I don’t have a fancy tree or anything to put them on, so I just lined the boxes they came in with a plastic back and put the bottles upside down to drain out and air out while I did everything else.
Once the bottles were done I sanitized everything else, all of the tubes, the capper, the siphon, and the valve for the beer bucket. After I was done with everything inside of the tub I was using I poured the sanitizer into the bucket and swished it around. This was a good opportunity to see if I had any leaks on my valve. At this point, I didn’t have any leaks…but we’ll get to that…I poured the bucket out back into my tub on the counter.
One trick I learned about sanitizing tubes is to actually start a siphon on them. Basically take the tube and plug one end of it with your thumb. Then fill the other side with water until it is completely full. Keep in mind you’ll have to probably point the closed end at the floor and let a little bit of air out to get all the bubbles out. Once that is complete, put one end into your sanitizing solution and the other end in the sink making sure that the exiting end is lower than the other end. Then just let it go and watch the magic. This will run sanitizer all the way through, but be sure not to use all of your sanitizer, you’ll need it again. In fact, it is always good to have sanitizer on hand.
Bottling the Homebrew
I boiled my bottle caps and boiled my priming sugar. Once the priming sugar was done I cooled it down to the touch with a sink full of ice water.
“I boiled my bottle caps.”
Once cooled I pitched the sugar into my bottling bucket. I proceeded to take the top off of my carboy and grabbed my auto siphon and the tube. Guess what though…the damn tube would not fit into the end of the auto siphon. I was about 1/8 of an inch to big…I had no idea what I was going to do.
It is hard as hell to start a siphon without an auto siphon in a carboy. Thinking quickly I grabbed my racking cane, put a tube on the end of it, rinsed it, started a siphon in the sink, sucked up some more sanitizer and proceeded to put the racking cane in the carboy. I then let the other end go into a glass I had standing by, as soon as my brew came through I put my thumb on it again and put it into bottling bucket. The beer started to fill and I was relieved.
I watched the beer for a little bit and was thinking to myself, this was going to be easier than I though. Spoke to soon! All of a sudden my siphon was gone. I was pumping a little foam and air into my bucket…I was pissed, but I stayed calm. If I learned anything from my mentor Jay and my book it was to just relax…So I took the cane back over to the sink, rinsed it, filled it up again with sanitizer and did it again.
“Relax, have a homebrew” -Charlie Papazian
This time it held and I drained the whole carboy into the bucket. When it got close to the bottom I just leaned the carboy one way and sucked as much out without any sediment as I could. It was at this point that I noticed a bit of beer pooling on my wooden chair…the valve was leaking a little bit out and there was really nothing I could do at this point but just get to bottling ASAP!
I took some plastic wrap and covered the top of the bucket since I have no top to it, moved it up to the top counter, put on the sanitized bottling cane and got to it. I have to say, the bottling cane is a wonderful invention. All you do is hook up the tube to the valve open the valve to fill the tube, then all that needs to be done is to push the end of the cane into the bottom of the bottle and it fills up. It is really nice because it doesn’t force any unwanted air or foam into the beer. When the beer gets right to the top of the bottle, I stopped and pulled it out. That should be enough room for the carbon dioxide to sit after the beer is carbonated.
I managed to get 46 beers out of my batch. A little less than I was suppose to. I think I will attribute that to not using enough water in my batch and because of my leaking and spilling. Not to bad though. I took one last hydrometer measurement and it was sitting at about 1.012 still, so I’m at about 4% ABV. Again, my starting hydrometer reading was 1.051 – 1.012 x 105 = 4.095.
After it was all said and done I had to clean up. I’ll spare you all the details but since I still had sanitizer left, I rinsed everything I had and sanitized it again. It couldn’t hurt right? I rinsed out my carboy in the bath tube with a carboy brush and hot water. I’ll sanitize that before the next brewing. All in all, it was a fun experience and I have a feeling I’ll be doing it again real soon.