Sunday, January 30, 2011

Almost Beer

I'm pretty sure the only reason my husband and I have friends in Tennessee is because we brew beer. So if you're lonely and looking for a friend. Learn how to brew beer, and you'll have more people "stopping by" to see "how you're doing" than you're prepared for. At any rate, I enjoy having people enjoy my beer, some folks even bring their own homebrew to swap! It's a great cycle.

Be sure to have plenty of empties on hand.

This is going to be bass-akwards I know, but my first post about the beer brewing process is going to be bottling. This makes sense for two reasons. One, bottling is the part of the process we are currently in. Two, it's my favorite part of the process. Ask any one who has ever brewed beer and they'll let you know it's about 5 hours active work and 3+ weeks passive work. Just like growing red peppers, beer brewing is an acceptable activity for the lazy.

Did you let your "almost beer" sit around in a carboy for two weeks or more without doing a thing to it?
Good job! It's ready to be bottled.

Our previous six batches of beer only needed primary fermentation. This time around we did a second fermentation and it cleared the beer up a whole lot. So when this batch was transfered to the bottling bucket there was less leftover yeast-sludge and settled junk (yum! beer!). We'll see what this means for sediment in the bottles (probably a lot less rinsing and scrubbing for the next batch). In anticipation of secondary fermentation being great we purchased another glass carboy so we don't have to worry about plastic buckets. Not that I've found anything wrong with them, I just feel safer with glass.

Bottling is pretty awesome. "Why?" you say, "Sounds like it's kind of boring, I'd rather be drinking beer than bottling it." To that I say, "Sounds like you don't like to have fun." The best part of bottling isn't necessarily filling bottles with beer, but capping bottles! Unfortunately Andy and I act as a "team" so we switch off duties and I can only spend half the time crimping caps onto bottles.

This contraption is my favorite tool. Ever.

To bottle you must first add the priming sugar to the batch. Don't forget this step or you will have to pour all your bottled beer back into the bucket and start over. This is considered un-fun. Priming sugar is just sugar that the yeast you added weeks ago will eat up and get gassy. Instead of releasing the gas into the airlock and out of the carboy; When you bottle, the gas is trapped, and forms carbonation.

If you think bottling beer would be tricky because pouring from the carboy is probably difficult, I introduce you to... the hose! I believe in my 7th grade science class we learned about siphoning.
Beer making: Putting grade school skills to good use.

Next, run a hose from the bottling bucket down to your bottling station (gravity helps here). Attach your nifty wand thing that came with your beer-making kit that lets beer run through when you push the bottom in. And then siphon your beer into the wand-thing and fill 'er up! Then you pass the bottles to me and I cap, using caps that we have simmering in hot water.

Un-capped bottle caps. Hanging out, waiting to fulfill their ultimate purpose.

This latest batch of beer comes courtesy of my nephew and niece, Colin and Emily, you don't have to be 21 to buy beer making supplies! We cracked open the Irish Draught first and will be posting soon about the results. After our move in a few weeks, we'll start on another batch and I will post on the brewing process.


  1. I'm so happy you think the bottle capper is the best part of making beer. I can agree with you entirely.

  2. Did you know that I've had to remind Tony twice to add the priming sugar after we've started bottling? Yes it is un-fun, but it's still better to pour it back and start over to have carbonated beer.

  3. Hey there! Let me know the next time you do some brewin' and I'll "accidentally" come knocking on your door :-)