Its bottling time! Your beer has been brewed and fermented for two weeks. First thing to do is prepare your priming sugar. Usually each batch of beer calls for four ounces of corn sugar to be added to the beer at the time of bottling. Corn sugar is used because it will provide sugar (food) for the yeast but does not impart any flavor changes. The beer will be bottled immediately after adding the priming sugar. Since that priming sugar is food for the yeast, it will become active again with a final stage of fermentation. Because your beer will be in a sealed bottle at this point, though, the CO2 has no way of escaping. That CO2 byproduct becomes the agent which gives your beer carbonation.
To prepare the priming sugar, first start a pint of water boiling on the stove. Once boiling, add the sugar and stir in until dissolved. Allow to cool. I add the priming sugar to the bottom of my bottling bucket before siphoning in the beer. The process of siphoning in the beer will thoroughly mix the priming sugars in to the batch of beer. While siphoning, be careful not to make too many bubbles, etc because you don’t want to introduce too much oxygen at this point.
Here is beer being siphoned into the bottling bucket. The bottling bucket, by the way, is a plastic six gallon bucket with a hole at the bottom where a spigot is installed. The hose used to siphon is later used to connect to the spigot. To the other end of the hose you will then install a bottle filler, which is nothing more than a spring loaded release valve that permits beer to flow out of the tube when depressed in each bottle.
While filling bottles, start some more water boiling (a quart or so) and boil all of your bottle caps for ten minutes so they are sterilized.
Once all of the bottles are full, you’ll need to cap them. One at a time, take your caps, place them on the bottle and then use the crimper to press the caps on to the bottle. Caps are not reusable. Buy new ones in bulk and they come flattened out. The crimper presses them over the top and around the lip of the bottle for a tight seal.
Now comes the really hard part. Waiting. You must allow another two weeks for that final stage of fermentation to occur so that your bottles are properly carbonated. They should stay in a cool dark place during this time period. I’ll admit, I usually crack open the first one in about a week to see if it is ready. Sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t, it all depends on the type of beer and the conditions.
Once the bottles are ready, you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
To review, here are the other homebrewing how-to articles: