It’s finally time for bottles! Today, we’re completing the last step in the home brewing process: bottling. You’ll need bottles. I suggest collecting bottles from neighbors, friends, coworkers, whoever. If necessary, you can buy bottles. Jason once dug bottles out of the recycling bins behind the Brew & View in Asheville. I don’t suggest that because let’s be real, that’s gross. But, if you must. They should sell bottles at the home brew store, and they might even have larger ones (22 ounce). You’ll need 45-50 bottles.
You know you’re ready for bottling when your beer has been in it’s secondary fermentation container (glass carboy) for about two weeks. You do have more flexibility in this phase than the first, though. Also, don’t expect your airlock bubbler to be bubbling quite so vigorously. In fact, don’t stress if it’s not bubbling at all.
These are some extra things you’ll need for this step. Corn sugar, crown caps, and a bottle-cap-sealer contraption. (All available at your local home brew store.) Also, you’ll need a second 5 and 1/2 gallon bucket, this one with a spout on the bottom. And that same piece of plastic tubing you’ve used before. Last thing, you’ll need an attachment called a bottling tube (hard plastic tube with spring-loaded tip that opens when pressed).
To sterilize your bottles, soak them in a water/bleach mixture, then scrub the labels off. We usually use two rubbermaid containers (one filled with the bleach/water mixture, and one filled with warm water). Let the bottles soak in the bleach/water mixture, then move them to the warm water to scrub. After removing all the labels, you’ll need to run the bottles through the dishwasher or clean the insides with this cool bottle-cleaning device. Okay, bottles are clean.
Simmer the crown caps. Much like canning lids, crown caps have a little band of gummy adhesive on the inside that needs to be warmed up in order to make a good seal. Don’t boil, just simmer for a few minutes. Then, let them cool until they can be handled.
Now we’ll need to move the beer from the glass carboy to the plastic bucket with the spigot on the bottom. Do this in the same way that you did it before, in Step 2. Be careful not to let it splash around.
In a pot on the stove, dissolve 2/3 of a cup of the corn sugar in about 2 cups of water. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Then, pour the sugar water mixture into the bucket in to the beer. Why sugar, you ask? The corn sugar that we’re adding is called “priming sugar,” and it provides a food source for the yeast in the beer. Because the beer is about to be bottled up, the yeast will eat the sugar and that will create the carbonation in each bottle! After you add the sugar to the beer, stir GENTLY. Only a little. Just enough.
Bottles! Begin by attaching the tubing the the spout on the bucket, then attach the bottling tube. Now, open the spigot. Put the bottling tube all the way into a bottle, and press the tip of the tube on the bottom of the bottle. It’ll fill up!
Cap it! Repeat times 45-50. We ended up with 48 bottles. There will be some yeast on the bottom of the bucket, don’t bottle that, it’ll be gross. Jason tried to drink it. By the way, you can totally taste your flat, room temperature beer if you want!
You’ll have to wait 2 months to drink your beer. Really, I think they peak after about 4 or 5 months, but feel free to go for it sooner. Just save some because you’ll be amazed by how much it can change. In the meantime, store it in a cool, dry place and try to forget it’s there!
If you’re interested in brewing but still feeling unsure, let me know! Leave comments, tweet me about it @annaespears, or call me on the phone because you probably have my number, blog reader! My friend Noelle has already brewed a batch with (a little) help from me. She mostly had help from the folks at Wilmington Homebrew Supply. I know these people, they went to UNCA (and Hoggard in WIlmington). Tell them you know me and buy lots of things from them.
Now, we wait.