Monday, March 19, 2012


.5 oz of star san in 2.5 gallons of water.
I soak my bottles in sanitizer for a minute or two, drain and bottle.
Been bottling with the bucket on top of the washer recently, cutting down on the mess

I missed a few updates but decided to talk about my bottling process and specifically about my bottling of 7.5 gallons a little over a week ago.  My process is fairly simple and probably not too different from many beginner brewers but I thought it would be nice to at least write it down.

The first step in my bottling day is also my least favorite: cleaning bottles.  While I usually have a case or two of fairly clean bottles that I've previously removed the labels from there's almost always a good amount that I need to clean inside or out.  I do so by placing them in the bathtub for a long soak in hot soapy water before rinsing out and using my bottle brush to remove the gunk that remains. It can be a long boring process and I often do it the day before bottling day just to get it out of the way.

The next stage is to bottle: I first make a sanitizer solution and add this to my bottling bucket.  After a few minutes in the bucket I transfer the solution to a small cooler through both the siphoning tube and bottling tube so get each clean.  I then boil a cup of water with the amount of sugar I need to prime the batch and add this to the bottling bucket.  After a rinse of the tubes I lift the carboy of beer I plan to bottle above the bottling bucket (often onto a washing machine with a small table below) and, using the siphoning cane, move the beer into the bucket in a swirling motion to mix it with the sugar water.

Once the beer is moved to the bucket I then move the bucket up higher and begin to sanitize bottles by soaking them in the cooler then lifting and draining each.  Once a decent amount are lifted and drained I  use the bottling tube with bottling wand end and slowly fill the bottles.  I usually fill about 8 or so which I loosely place caps on as I go (I give them a quick run of the sanitizer).  I then cap each bottle and return them to a case before filling more bottles.

After filling and capping all the beer (75 in this sessions case) I mark the caps with a sharpie and put them away (I keep them in the basement covered with a blanket keep out light and minimize any severe temperatures).  I then boil 2 cups of water, cool, and add to the remains of the carboy, stir then pour into a jar to save yeast for reuse.

Lastly the unfun of cleanup begins. I typically take everything used in the bottling day (bucket, carboys, cooler, tubing, etc) and dump as much water/trub/etc. as I can outside before returning to the bathtub to soak with soapy water.

The process certainly isn't the most efficient but I don't mind the time it takes. As for the duration I've had it take me as little as an hour with friends helping and pre-rinsed bottles. I've also had it take me a total of 8 hours over two days between cleaning a hundred bottles by myself and bottling close to that many.

Some day I may move to kegs but for now I'm happy with the simplistic, economical and environmentally friendly reuse of empty bottles.

About a case of my Irish Red post-capping.

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