Preparing to Bottle Your Beer

Racking

 

What do I need to Bottle my Beer?

 

Well first you need bottles and lots of them! Before bottling collect the number of bottles and caps you will need (see chart below). Wash thoroughly and scrub with a bottle brush, then sanitize them.

 

Place metal caps in boiling water, but not plastic caps used for PET bottles. Turn the heat off first before adding PET bottle caps so you donít melt them. When the cap is hot it seals better.

You can use PET bottles with re-useable plastic caps or glass crown top bottles with a capper. Iíve heard several people claim that PET bottles wonít keep long because they leak air and your beer will loose carbonation. I have some beer bottled in PET bottles that have been bottled over a year and they are fine. Hot caps seal better!

 

 From the table below you can see just how much beer can be made using the various sized kits available.

 

Basic Beer Bottling Calculations

Batch Size in Gallons

1

2.5

3

5

5.5

6

10

Beer Produced in Ounces

128

320

384

640

704

768

1280

Number of 8 oz. Bottles

16

40

48

80

88

96

160

Number of 12 oz. Bottles

11

27

32

53

59

64

107

Number of 16 oz. Bottles

8

20

24

40

44

48

80

Number of 20 oz. Bottles

6

16

19

32

35

38

64

 


 

What is a PET Bottle?

 

PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate, a plastic resin and a form of polyester. Basically any bottle that at one time held a carbonated beverage can be washed, sanitized and re-used along with the caps. They can also be purchased in brown colored bottles like the oneon the right, which is better for you beer because it blocks UV light which can ruin your beer. I donít usually leave my beer in the sun do you? Some people claim clear and green glass bottles leave a funny taste in your beer, Iíve never found this to be true.

 

I bottle at least two beers from every batch in clear glass bottles so I can evaluate what I have. I evaluate itís color, clarity, yeast remnants etc. These I save in brown paper lined boxes and drink it on itís anniversary date a year after I brewed it. If you think it was good a few weeks after you brewed it let one sit a year!

 

Whatís a Crown Top Bottle?

Unfortunately, many of our beers today come in twist off caps. You can not re-use these with a hand capper. The old style bottle that require a bottle opener are crown tops. You can get them from a recycler or your local beverage store or get your friends to save them for you. See photo on right.

 

For glass bottles you need a capper and lots of caps. I use the one on the left. Itís called auniversal capper and costs about $12.

 

 

Okay Iíve got my bottles and caps washed and sanitized what next? Well priming the beer of course!


 

Priming the Beer

Before you can bottle you need to prime the beer. We can do this with just about any sugar but corn sugar is about the best. Some sugars like table sugar are inconsistent and can cause off flavors in your beer. DME can be used as well but itís more expensive and why not save that for another batch of beer?

 

What is priming? Priming is just adding more sugar to the beer so the yeast will eat it and create CO2 that it will carbonate the beer based on the table below:

 

 

Like everything else there is more than one way to do this.

 

Bottle Priming

To bottle prime you scoop the appropriate amount of sugar into each and every bottle then pour in the beer into the bottle and swish it around a bit.

 

Bulk Priming

To bulk prime you simply measure out the total corn sugar required to prime all of the beer (see chart above) then and 2/3 cups of boiling water priming the whole batch of beer at at one time. To do this follow the instructions below:

 

Boil the water, remove it from the heat and then dissolve the corn sugar in the water. Cover the pot and let the sugar syrup cool to room temperature. Once this sugar mixture has cooled add it to the fermenter and stir slowly using a sanitized spoon, taking care not to stir it up to much.

 

NOTE: If you are using a brew bucket to transfer the beer from a carboy to the brew bucket donít prime until you are ready to rack the beer from the brew bucket to the bottles.

 

The most accurate way to calculate your priming sugar is to use a nomograph. A nomograph eliminates the need to do any calculations you just draw a line or place a straightedge or ruler on the mark for the temperature of your beer, and the volumes of CO2 required for that style of beer. The place where the line crosses the sugar line is how much sugar you need to prime 5 gallons of that specific beer. This method is much more accurate because it takes into consideration the temperature, and the style of the beer you have brewed. At lower temperatures, the beer can dissolve more CO2, so the colder the beer the better.

 

Please note: Temperatures are listed in degrees Fahrenheit (įF) and sugar is measured in ounces (oz.).

 

††††

 

 

Itís Bottling Time!

 

Bottling Your Beer

Once again you will need to transfer your beer - this is known as racking. This time we will rack into bottles. How you do this depends on the type of fermenter you have.

 

Racking From A Fermenter With A Spigot

If your fermenter has a spigot itís easy. Just put a bit sanitized tubing on the spigot run the tubing to the bottom of the bottle open the spigot and fill up the bottle trying not to get any air in. Set the cap on top of the bottle but donít cap it yet. If you let it sit a until you fill all of the bottles it will create CO2 and expel any air out of the bottle keeping your beer fresher longer.

 

Racking From a Carboy

If you are using a carboy you will need a clean, sanitized racking cane, tubing, bottle filler and brew bucket. You place the racking cane in the carboy and place it up on the table, put the bucket on a chair below the carboy and put the tubing in the bucket. Release the clamp on the hose and transfer the beer into the bucket keeping the tubing submerged to prevent splashing.

 

Add the bottle filler to the racking cane and close the clamp. Put the brew bucket on the table and the bottles on the chair. When your ready push the bottle filler into the bottom of the bottle and fill. When you release the pressur on the bottle filler it will stop the flow of beer. Set the cap on top of the bottle but donít cap it yet. If you let it sit a until you fill all of the bottles it will create CO2 and expel any air out of the bottle keeping your beer fresher longer.

 

Bottle Conditioning

Once all the beer is bottled you need to crimp the caps and let it sit in a cool place out of sunlight to condition for a week to 10 days. For some beers it is suggested that you condition for up to a month so check the recipes instructions on this. In general, the longer you condition the beer better it tastes.

 

Chilling and Drinking

After the necessary conditioning period put your beer in the refrigerator for a few days to a week and enjoy!

 

Congratulations -Youíve made you first homebrewed beer!

 

Didnít I tell you it was easy?

 

Thatís it! Have fun and keep on brewing!

 

 

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