Bottling beer can be a tedious task, which is why many of us eventually switch to kegging. Home brewers often consider bottling to be their least favorite part of the brewing process. To help alleviate some of the frustration, we present 10 tips for bottling your home brewed beer.
1. Inspect Your Bottles Before Use
Before using your bottles, inspect each one by holding it up in front of a window or light source and looking straight down the bottle. Bottles tend to chip and crack around the mouth or bottom, and they can also collect mold and debris at the bottom. Discard any bottles that are damaged to avoid potential issues. If possible, choose well-made, heavier bottles and avoid using twist-off bottles!
2. Remove Labels with Ammonia
To remove labels from recycled bottles, soak them overnight in a solution of water and ammonia. After soaking, you should be able to gently rub off most of the labels. Remember to wear rubber gloves and work in a well-ventilated area, as ammonia gas can be dangerous.
3. Use a “Jet Bottle Washer” and Bottle Brush
Used bottles often have clumps of mold at the bottom that can be difficult to remove. A “Jet Bottle Washer” is a device that screws onto your faucet and has a valve that activates when you push the bottle over it. This device will make cleaning most bottles a breeze. For stubborn sediment, use a small bottle brush. Remember to sanitize your bottles with a high-quality sanitizing solution before bottling.
4. Don’t Bottle Directly from the Fermenter
When it’s time to bottle, siphon your beer off the fermenter into a temporary priming bucket or carboy. Be careful to minimize splashing, as air can oxidize your finished beer. Mix your priming sugar into the beer while it’s still in the priming bucket. This will reduce sediment in the finished bottles and ensure that the priming sugar is evenly distributed.
5. Use Fining Agents Well Before Bottling
Fining agents help clarify your beer and reduce sediment in the bottles, but they need to be added well before bottling. Additions such as gelatin and polyclar should be added 5-7 days before bottling, after active fermentation has occurred, to allow them to settle and remove excess yeast and proteins.
6. Weigh Your Priming Sugar
Avoid the habit of simply adding a specific cup measurement of corn sugar to your beer. Different sugars vary in density, so one cup of corn sugar may not be the same as another. Calculate the weight of the priming sugar needed for your desired carbonation level using an online calculator, and then weigh the sugar or DME before adding it.
7. Purchase a Good Bottle Capper
If you’ve ever used a cheap bottle capper, you’ll understand the importance of this advice. There are many different styles of bottle cappers, and they can all work well, but it’s worth spending a few extra dollars on a well-made capper. Ask your local homebrew store owner for recommendations. Investing a bit more upfront will save you a lot of frustration on bottling day.
8. Oxygen Absorbing Bottle Caps or Not?
Oxygen absorbing bottle caps are popular, but are they necessary? Unless you plan to store your beer for an extended period (a year or more), the answer is most likely no. The oxygen in the headspace of the bottle during bottling is partially consumed by the fermentation of the priming sugar. Additionally, CO2 is produced during fermentation, which helps protect the beer. As long as the caps are tight and properly sealed, the risk of oxidation should be minimal.
9. Fill Bottles to the Brim
Bottles require a certain amount of headspace (air) at the top for carbonation and proper pressure. If you’re using a wand-type bottle filler, you can fill the bottles very close to the top before removing the wand. This should leave about 1″ to 1-1/2″ of headspace in the neck of the bottle, which is suitable for carbonating your beer.
10. Store Your Bottles Properly
After capping the bottles, store them at fermentation temperature for at least two weeks to allow proper fermentation of the priming sugar for carbonation. After that, store your beer in a cool place away from light. If you want to clear the beer more quickly, consider lagering (cold storing) your beer in the refrigerator. Once you’ve finished using the bottles, rinse them clean and store them upside down to make cleaning easier next time.
We hope these tips will make bottling your next batch a little less painful. Thank you for reading our article! Feel free to visit our homepage or email us at email@example.com. Contact Kate for more information.