Gowanus Brewery


Bottling

Bottling will always be the best way for homebrewing newcomers to carbonate and store beer. It is inexpensive and the bottling process is easy to follow. We bottle with recycled bottles, either by saving them at the house or by collecting them from friends, but you can buy them new, too. There is an advantage to buying them new: new bottles are don’t have old labels. Cleaning off old labels can be the most time-consuming aspect of bottling, unless, of course, you decide to leave them on. Also, the bottling method doesn’t change according to bottle size, as long as you stay within reason. So, don’t hesitate to experiment. Virtually any bottle that can take a bottle cap is fair game.

For a typical five-gallon batch, you will need about 50 bottles, or the equivalent if they’re larger than 12 ounces. To clean the outside of the bottles, we soak them in a soapy, hot-water bath and peel off as much as possible of the outer label by hand. We use a metal scraper, ideally a razor blade, but sometimes just a spoon, to take off the glue and a coarse dish pad to scrub away whatever’s left. For the inside, we rinse with dilute bleach, water, and lastly an easy-rinse product. We will let those bottles sit upside down to dry, but, in a pinch, we have filled still-wet bottles with beer without any problems.

Equipment:

  1. Bottling Bucket
  2. Auto-siphon
  3. Hydrometer
  4. Three Feet of Quarter-inch Tubing
  5. Bottling Wand
  6. Small Pot
  7. 50 Clean, Empty Bottles and 50 New Bottle Caps
  8. Capper

We also need fifty bottle caps and five ounces of “priming sugar”, which are usually included in your ingredient kit. Once we have all of the above, here’s what we do:

  1. Dissolve Priming Sugar: Dissolve the priming sugar in two cups boiling water in the small pot. Set aside to cool until step four.
  2. Transfer Beer to Bottling Bucket: Using the auto-siphon, Siphon our beer from secondary to the bottling bucket, carefully tipping the carboy to one side as the level of beer drops to the bottom.
  3. Take Final Gravity: Take final gravity using the hydrometer at this point.
  4. Add Priming Sugar: Add the dissolved priming sugar directly to the open bucket of beer, pouring from high enough that the sugar mixes well with the beer.
  5. Sterilize Caps: Refill the small pot with water, bring it to a boil, and add the bottle caps. Heat for about five minutes, then set aside to cool.
  6. Fill Bottles: After attaching the three-foot hose to the bottling bucket spigot on one end and the bottling wand on the other, fill each bottle within one inch of the top.
  7. Cap Bottles: Once filled, the bottles are ready to be capped with the capper.

Afterwards, we label our bottles and they sit for “bottle rest”. If they sit for a week, they will have a moderate amount of carbonation and fresh, intense flavors. If they sit for a month, both the carbonation and flavors improve. After that, carbonation doesn’t change much, but not so for flavor. For certain types of beer, you can let the bottles sit longer, upwards of a year or more, to get really great tasting end product.


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