Beer Bottling is no easy task! Bottling is known to be the least favorite part of the beer brewing process. We want to help ease your pain and help make creating your masterpiece a cinch. Our 10 Beer Bottling Tips are aimed to help home brewers avoid common mistakes and get you closer to that perfect recipe.
- Inspect Bottles: When you receive your bottles take time to carefully check product for any imperfections. Holding bottles in front of a window or light source will help isolate imperfections with your product. Glass can chip or crack near the mouth or bottom of the bottle making them unsafe to use in the brewing process. Discard damaged bottles before you start brewing.
- Ammonia for Label Removal: If your bottles have any type of labeling needing removed soak them in a solution of water and ammonia overnight. Pursuant to this process any labeling should come off with gentle scrubbing to avoid scratches.
- Bottle Washer & Bottle Brush: Bottles going through recycling or being shipped can collect dirt and mold, these products will need cleaning. A Jet Bottle Washer can be used to make this cleaning process easier in addition to a bottle brush to remove stubborn sediment that may settle at the bottom of bottles.
- Fermenter Tip: Do not bottle directly from a fermenter. Siphon beer from the fermenter into a priming bucket or carboy for ideal results. During this step minimize splashing to avoid air oxidizing the finished product. Priming sugar should then be blended in while beer is in priming pail. Doing this will prevent sediment from settling in finished bottles and ensure sugar is evenly mixed.
- Fining Agents: For optimal clarity and reduction of sediment many brewers will use fining agents, but it is vital to use these well before bottling. Agents such as gelatin and polycar ideally should be used after fermentation but 5-7 days before bottling providing time for yeast and proteins to settle.
- Priming Sugar: Be thorough, do not just add 3/4 cup of corn sugar to your brew due to varying density There are a number of online calculators to achieve target carbonation such as BeerSmith.
- Bottle Capper: There is wide array of bottle cappers and all can work well but generally a couple extra dollars will ensure you a well made capper. If you have a local homebrew owner ask for recommendations.
- Oxygen Absorbing Caps?: Oxygen absorbing caps are popular, but do you need them? Generally unless you are planning to store beer for an extended period (over a year) the answer is no. Oxygen within the headspace is absorbed during bottling and partly during fermentation. You will also receive added protection from priming your sugar properly. Be sure caps are tight and properly sealed should elminate risk of oxidization.
- Fill to the Brim: Headspace (air) is very important at the top of each bottle for optimum carbonation and proper pressure. Generally, it is best to leave 1″ to 1 1/2″ of headspace in the neck of the bottle.
- Proper Storage: Do not let all the hard work go to waste! Store your bottles at fermentation temperature for at least 2 weeks. Pursuant to initial storage place brew in a cool place away from light or in a refrigerator if you want to clear the beer quicker.
Best of luck to all our Brewmasters!!