Just wondering if you guys have any suggestions, tips or ideas? According to the directions in the kit I got you basically mix in the bottling sugars, bottle, cap and wait a few weeks. Basically I am wondering if there are any tips you guy have in the process so I do not start and figure it out on my last bottle and think, "Well that would have been nice to know 48 bottles ago!"
- Boil your priming sugar in a pint of distilled water to sanitize it.
- Add the boiled priming sugar mixture to the bottling bucket first, then rack the beer into the bucket. This will ensure the sugar is thoroughly mixed into the beer. Cooling the priming mixture isn't absolutely necessary; the incoming beer will cool it before too much yeast dies.
- If you're using oxygen-absorbing caps, don't sanitize them too early. Wetting them activates them, so you want to get them onto the bottles as soon as you can after wetting them. I lay out twelve on the counter, upside-down, and spray them with star-san solution, then quickly get them onto the bottles, then do twelve more.
Here are some things I've learned over the two or three years of bottling:
- Use a checklist for the whole day, (clean, sanitize bottles, sanitize caps, prime, etc...)
- Double check the amount of sugar you're using to prime
- If available, use a workbench so you can stand comfortably
- Ensure your beer is high enough above your workspace so it siphons nicely
- Have your siphon hose reach to the bottom of your bottle, then pull it out slowly as you fill the bottle (you don't want to aerate your beer), stop just 1/2 inch (1 cm) below the top of the bottle
- Have a second person help you, easy to fill bottles and then they can cap them
- Sanitize more bottles than you think you're going to need
- Have some extra sanitizer around in case you drop some/all your caps on the ground
- If it's your first time, do a couple of test cappings just so you get the feel of it
- Have a couple of rags around to clean up any spills (they'll happen)
- Have a garbage can handy in case of broken bottles (it happens occasionally)
- Have some beer handy to drink, don't have too many before you start capping though
That pretty much sums it up. Just make sure you add the priming sugar. Sometimes in your excitement to get the beer bottled you can forget this step. If you do happen to forget the priming sugar you can always get coopers carbonation tabs. Instead of combining all the beer to a bucket and priming you can just pop the cap, add a tab and recap.
Store them the bottles at room temp for a week or two so the yeast stays active and carbonates the beer. After that you can put them in the fridge.
The one tip I can add is to write out each step in point form so nothing is missed. I have a white board in my brewing room and for each batch, I write out each step and a note or 2 on each (IE a target gravity read). This way I hopefully will leave no Leaf unturned or step missed along the way. I am new to this and write notes for each step too so I have referenece as my brewing continues to grow.
Hope that helps some
If you can get a hold of a bottling wand, it will save you all kinds of trouble in the bottling process. The wand has a valve in it that only lets liquid flow when it is pressed up against a surface. Press the wand against the bottom of the bottle, remove it just when the liquid level reaches the lip of the bottle, and when you pull it out, you'll have exactly enough head room.
All of the above are great suggestions. Don't try to prime each bottle (some directions suggest that this is the process), but prime the entire batch, then bottle it up (you'll get more consistent carbonation, just emphasizing JackSmith's suggestion to that end). If for some reason you want residual sweetness, use a non-fermenting sugar or substitute like sucralose or stevia (I do ciders and this is a must for most consumers). Here is a link to a priming sugar calculator that I have found to make my bottling more consistent. Cheers :-)