Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kelburn IPA: Bottling

It wasn't easy.

This was probably my worst bottling experience, and by the end of it I honestly didn't even want to get the beer into bottles, I more just wanted it to be over with.  Let's start with simultaneously dropping ten bottles onto the floor at once:

You'll note that the offending box does not have a bottom.  Whoops.
As if that wasn't enough, I only moments later discovered that my bottle caps had completely rusted.  I ordered some new ones for about $6 on Amazon, and with Prime I got them in two days.

Fast forward to about 4-5 days later when I finally got around to bottling.  I didn't have nearly enough bottles (probably around 24 empties, including one 22 oz bottle - more on that later).  However, I didn't have the patience to wait any longer, as it had already been three weeks, and my cooling method includes putting frozen water bottles into the "swamp cooler" every day, which got tiresome.

I started by cleaning and sanitizing out all the equipment that I would need for the day, and then dropped about 3/4 of the provided sugar (I think they provide 5 oz) into some water and boiled that mixture for 7-ish minutes, and then covered it with a sanitized lid and let it cool.  I didn't use the entire bag of sugar this time as in the past, this has caused problems (i.e. over carbonation).

Sanitized caps, ready to go!

My co-brewer Chelsea helped me out big time with this process as as I find it is much easier to bottle with a second person (actually, I've never tried it alone).  First, I put the fermented beer up on a microwave so it would be high up in the room, and then put the bottling bucket down low.  Next, Chelsea (using the really useful auto-siphon, which I would highly recommend buying) started the siphoning process.  Thus began the transfer of beer into bottling bucket.
The Siphon.

Beer on top, bottling bucket below.

I had previously removed all the labels on the bottles by soaking them in an Oxyclean Free (i.e. odorless) + hot water mixture and then scrubbing the labels (though many of them simply fall off after sitting in this mixture for a bit).  Then, I ran them through a dishwasher rinse and hot dry cycle without any detergent to sanitize the bottles.

With the beer in the bottling bucket, and the bottling hose (which fills the bottle when the small bit at the end is being pushed into the bottom of the bottle), one of us would fill the bottle and the other would do the capping.  Unfortunately, the 22 oz bottle did not have a standard mouth (go figure) so I had to not use it, thus bringing my bottle count even lower.  I wound up pouring out a decent bit of homebrew and I'm sure that I could have done something a lot better with it but I was honestly pretty fed up with the whole bottling process at that point, as you may imagine.

Bottling at its finest.
I put two bottles instantly into the fridge and the rest are sitting in a dark place, though it probably is not cool enough as it should be (ideally).  Now, it's one more two week wait and then I can taste the fruit of my labor.  It better be worth it!

Finished product - note the small amount of bottles there.
Some more pictures:

The equipment drying.
Beer going into the bottling bucket.

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