how to bottle beer

Looking to learn how to bottle beer? Well do I have good news for you... I know how and have nothing better to do then sit here and write about it!

Last night I bottled my hefeweizen and oatmeal stout, and took a bunch of pictures in the process. Its a fairly simple procedure, but can be messy, especially if you try doing it yourself. Its also important to remember that after your beer is done fermenting, you want to expose it to oxygen as little as possible. Oxygenating beer after it has fermented can lead to off flavors (AKA shitty tasting beer), so you want to make sure everything is in order before you crack open your jug.

So the first things first! Here is a list of stuff you will need to bottle.

1.Auto-siphon and plastic tubing. Don't get a regular racking cane, they suck. Auto-siphons cost a few bucks more, but are certainly worth the cost. I used a racking cane for my first two brews and I almost gave up completely trying to get it to work consistently.

Auto-siphon with tubing attached

2. Hydrometer, and a sanitized wooden spoon. The hydrometer to take a reading, the wooden spoon to slowly stir in your priming sugar
 3. A gallon of sanitizer. I recommend Star San! Its the best.
 4. Small sauce pan for boiling your priming sugar.
 5. Big pot to hold your beer and mix in your priming sugar.
 6. BEER! To bottle beer, you need some beer that is ready to bottle. Totally crucial.
 7. Clamp for plastic tubing to control the flow of your beer.
 8. Small spray bottle of sanitizer. So convenient!
 8. Scale for measuring out your priming sugar. My mom just bought me a fancy new digital one!
 9. Bottle capper, if you choose to go down that road.
10. Last but not least, empty bottles! And caps, if you use them. I like the Grolsch ones, but the pry off bottles are great too. Its pretty awesome to crack open a cold one, especially when you made it yourself :)

A word about twist-offs... everywhere that I have read, people say that twist-off bottles don't work. I can tell you from experience that BLUE MOON TWIST OFFS DO INDEED WORK! I have never tried other types of twist-offs, but I know for sure that Blue Moon bottles do the job just fine.
11. Actually, THIS is last and not least. Sugar! We will mix this with the beer to give the yeast one final meal to carbonate your beer. You can use regular table sugar, or pick up some corn sugar from your LHBS.

Aight, you have all the crap you need, time to bottle it!

STEP 1- SANITIZE YOUR SHIT! Your workspace, pots and pans, tools, bottles... everything!
To sanitize the bottles, dunk them in the sanitizer, shake them up and stick them upside down on a drying rack.
Don't fear the bubbles! As long as you give them 15-30 minutes to drain and dry, you'll be fine. There will almost surely be bubbles left, but its totally safe and wont hurt your beer.

STEP 2- Take a hydrometer reading.
Get the sample out quick with a turkey baster! This number will be your final gravity, and you will use this and your original gravity reading (that you took when you first brewed your beer!) to find out the ABV of your beer.

STEP 3- Find out how carbonated you want your beer and how much sugar its going to take. This is a great site to help you figure it out: It will tell you how a particular style of beer is usually carbonated, and then you just fill out the form and click CALCULATE! This will give you the amount of sugar you will need. Measure this out on your scale!
STEP 4- Boil your sugar. Add the sugar with equal parts water to your small saucepan, mix it up and boil it for a few minutes.
Adding some water to muh sugar.


STEP 5- Dump the sugar and water solution into your big SANITIZED pot and let it cool down.
STEP 6- Siphon your beer to the pot! You can either do what I do and put the beer up on top of an overturned bowl and stick the pot in the sink, or you can move the pot down to the floor. Gonna need gravity's help for this!

Attach one side of the tube to your auto-siphon, and put the other side in the sugar water. Then put the siphon halfway down into the bottle and give it a couple of pumps.
Let the beer mix in with the sugar, and do what you can to minimize splashing!
When you get near the bottom of the beer, tilt it a little so you can get as much as possible. DON'T SUCK UP THE YEAST!!!
After its finished, put the jug aside, move the pot up to where the jug was, and put your bottles down where the pot was.
Bottles waiting to receive the beer...
STEP 7- BOTTLE ZE BEER! Bottling is essentially the same thing we just did, except with... bottles. I give my beer a very short, gentle stir with a SANITIZED spoon just before to make sure the sugar is evenly dispersed.

Anyway, just stick the end of tube into the bottle, and siphon like before.
 Just make sure you fill up the bottle to about 1-1.5 inches from the top...
And cap em!
STEP 8- Store away from direct sunlight for 2 weeks...
And you are done, hurray! If you really really can't wait, your beer should taste fine in about 10 days, but the general consensus is that it will taste the best after 3 weeks or more. 

That's it people, you now know how to bottle beer! SEND ME ONE WHEN YOU'RE DONE!

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