Oh, what a beautiful site this was after waiting for two weeks for our beer to ferment. Here is how the bottling happened….
First of all, we cleaned and sanitized anything and everything that would come into contact with the beer, including washing and sanitizing the bottles. We use an acid sanitizer called ‘Star San.’ It’s effective and easy. We mix 1 oz of Star San with 5 gallons of water and dip EVERYTHING into the solution. There is no need to rinse with water afterwards. We have not yet splurged on a bottle drying stand, so we made do with what we had (you serious brewers out there might want to turn your heads at this moment).
I wanted to test the final gravity (specific gravity measured at completion of fermentation) of the beer to check for any changes since last weekend. Using the beer thief, I transferred beer from the carboy to my beaker. The hydrometer read, ‘1.016’. There was a slight change (I think….this thing is so difficult to read as it’s bobbing up and down in the beer). Using an online calculator, I calculated the alcohol content…..6.05% by volume. Not bad.
The sample went straight from the beaker into my glass. I had to check the integrity of the beer, right? The taste of the beer is great. Carbonation has not been added (we’re getting to that folks…), so it is inactive and flat. But….I’m not going to be the one to waste beer.
Before we could begin transferring the beer out of the fermenter, we had to prepare the priming sugar. In the bottling process, we add a small amount of sugar to the now flat beer. Once the beer is bottled, this sugar will be fermented by the living yeast and create the carbonation. We boiled the sugar with a little bit of water and divided the syrup in half. We added one half of the priming sugar to the bottom of the bottling bucket and reserved the second half for the next batch.
Now, we were ready to transfer the beer from the carboy where it has been fermenting for the past two weeks into the bottling bucket. We placed the carboys on top of the counter (which, in my home, is only large enough for two carboys, one bottle of wine, and a coffee pot….all the necessities, right?). We positioned the sanitized bottling bucket below the carboy and placed one end of our sanitized siphon hose inside the carboy and one end inside the bottling bucket. We GENTLY transferred all of the beer EXCEPT for the last 1/2 inch of sediment.
Next stop, bottles. We moved our bottling bucket to our table and attached the sanitized hose with the beer wand attachment. The beer wand is a great tool. It is a hard plastic tube with a spring valve on the end. When the spring valve is pressed, it allows the beer to flow. Simply insert the wand into the bottle and press down on the valve. Control the flow by pressing or releasing on this valve as necessary. We filled the bottles, leaving about 1 inch of air space at the top of each bottle.
Once we finished bottling the first batch, we transferred the beer from the second carboy into the bottling bucket and repeated the process.
Just in case you’re wondering what we did with the small amount of beer that would not fill a full bottle…..
So that we could keep the two types of beer separate, we placed different color stickers on the caps to indicate each type. The bottles of beer were put back into the boxes, and the boxes were placed in the bottom of the closet for two final weeks of fermenting.