Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Process: Bottling


I keg and bottle. Bottles are 100% more convenient for moving around; kegs are more convenient for everything else. To Bottle beer you have to clean and sanitize every bottle, add sugar, and cap. A lot can go wrong with this whole thing however the same care that you put into brewing under sanitary conditions should help you to bottle this under sanitary conditions. The purpose of this post it to walk you through everything I do to bottle a 1 gallon batch of beer. Bottling five gallon batches differs in a few ways which I'll touch on but won't detail.

(read more after the break)

Bottles
You can buy brand new bottles, they come reasonably clean, and are free of labels. you can get these in flip top glass bottles, PET plastic, or various colors of glass. I recommend brown 22 oz bottles. They take a standard cap and you only need to bottle about half as many as if you did 12 oz'ers.

Cleansing
To clean a bottle you need to wash out the inside, they make various high pressure water jet attachments for this. but I normally just rinse my bottles when I drink the beer that was in them. and then again before I plan to sanitize them. It's going to take something really nasty to stick to a bottle through that. If the bottle develops any off scents I'll fill it with cleaner and let it sit over night in the sink or the tub.

Sanitizing
Sanitizing bottles can be done in 1 of 3 ways: (1) Use sanitizer, submerge the bottle in sanitizer making sure the bottle is 100 filled, swish it around, and poor out the sanitizer, then fill with beer. (2) run your dishwasher on the sanitary heated dry, without soap of course, and let the bottles go a full round in the dishwasher, then remove and bottle immediately or wrap the tops in sanitized foil. (3) Bake it! you take your clean bottles, mostly dry, and wrap the tops in aluminum foil. You then bake them in the oven at 350 for 90 minutes(250 over night),  then allow them to cool overnight. This has the drawback of weakening the bottles over time, but I rotate so many bottles through giving them away and taking them places that I am not too worried. These bottles remain sterile for as long as the aluminum foil is intact.

Filling
For larger batches I use a bucket. For smaller batches I just use my auto siphon and a bottling attachment. The bottling attachment works exactly as intended, once you place it in the bottle it opens allowing beer to flow, once it's removed it stops the flow of beer. This is clutch for 2 reasons, first it's easy to control, secondly by discharging the beer at the bottom of the bottle like that it limits the am mount of oxygen being forced into your beer. At this point oxygen is your enemy, it kills flavor. The process: (1) add a carbonation tablet to a sanitized bottle, (2) fill with beer, (3) cap

Capping
I start by placing my caps in a star san solution. Once the bottle is filled I place the cap on the bottle and use my red baron capper to seal it up tight, it's that easy. The real key here is to remember to use clean sanitary caps.

Thoughts
Bottling has a bad rap; It's not nearly as painful as keg converters would lead you to believe. It is more painful then cleaning a keg and being done with it. Taking the effort to do this step right will pay off when you are able to open and drink a crisp refreshing bottle of beer at a friends house.

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