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I found this to be the most difficult part during my first attempt at brewing. All I had was a tube and a racking cane. Is there anything else to simplify the process and prevent me from ending up with almost a full beer on my kitchen floor?

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I've converted this question to a wiki, as there are many answers. I'll try to reorganize it to make sense that way as well. Great question! –  hookedonwinter Dec 13 '09 at 1:11

10 Answers 10

up vote 18 down vote accepted

Buy a bottling bucket and a bottling wand, it should cost you less than $15 combined and will save you a ton of pain. Cut a small (2-3") piece of 3/8" beverage tubing and connect the wand directly to the spigot on your bottling bucket, so that it looks like this:

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Notice that I put it over the dishwasher with the door open, the door will catch any spillage. Take sanitized bottle, raise to bottling wand, fill, and set it aside with a cap sitting on the top. Once you've done 6-12, cap a batch. Repeat until your bottling bucket runs empty.

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Bloody brilliant. Why have I not thought of this?! –  Taylor Dec 17 '09 at 18:50
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I have fully converted to this method and I can say that I am happier with all aspects of my life. I think my hair has started to grow back! –  Rich Armstrong Mar 11 '10 at 19:41
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Wow... that's just... wow. Great idea. Don't need a bottle tree, don't have to worry about spill... dang. That's great. Best tip I've read on bottling so far. –  Ell Jan 21 '11 at 20:39
    
Dishwashing the bottles is genius, why have I never tried that! –  David Hayes Aug 22 '11 at 17:29
    
Do you wash the bottles in the dishwasher too, or just use it as a place to dry them? Could running the dishwasher with sanitizer instead of powder detergent be an option? –  Jarett Millard Oct 11 '11 at 20:24

I put my beer in an ale pail with a spigot. (see my question about spigots)

It's super easy to just open the spigot, fill the bottle, and close the spigot.

I also generally have a pail with sani in it, so I dip, pour, fill, cap, repeat. Makes it much easier.

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Aren't you worried about oxidation splashing the beer into the bottle from the spigot?? –  dsidab81 Feb 8 '12 at 18:31
    
Not really. I tilt the bottles, and the flow isn't that fast. A solution would be to throw 6" of tubing on the spigot so that the beer fills from the bottom. –  hookedonwinter Feb 13 '12 at 16:53

I use the "bottle over dishwasher" technique as well, and it works great!

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+1 for switching to kegs. You can use grollers and use a blichmann bottle wand for bringing your brews to others. Kegging is very enjoyable, bottling is hell. Plus you can control your CO2 volume.

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When using the spring loaded bottling wand I always make sure to pull apart the spring loaded part and soak all the little bits in sanitizing solution. I have mine connected to the bottling bucket by a 1 inch piece of tubing.

Also, when I keg a batch and want a bottle, I don't wait for it to be carbonated, As soon as fill the keg, I immediately fill several bottles from the sanitized faucet. I use Munton's carb tabs when I do that.

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I too dislike the bottling process the most. It's easily the most labor intensive. Aside from what others have said the biggest helps I have found are - friends. Get one person per station (ie rinse bottle - sanitize bottle - fill bottle - cap it - label it) and it goes much fast. I know I know - duh - but it just goes that much faster.

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I use a spring loaded bottling wand at the end of a tube from the spigot on my bottling bucket. Sometimes I get leaks. I'm considering racking directly to a keg next time and doing nothing but kegerators. Could save a lot of time and washing.

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I just picked up a counter pressure filler. Will allow me to keg the beer and carbonate to a specific level without hassling with a bottling bucket or priming sugar.

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Switch to kegs.


But seriously, check out the spring loaded bottling wand. Also a racking cane clip to hold it in place.

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I have tried a couple extra tools, but found that most auto-siphons aren't worth the plastic they're made of. In the end, moving your beer to an ale pale with a spigot (to pour from into bottles), is the best thing you can do with a simple set up.

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