24 September 2007

The First Homebrew, Part II

So, the brew made itself ready for bottling earlier than I was expecting. The recipe calls for the ale to sit in the fermenter for 5-10 days, until the yeast stops bubbling and goes into rest mode. You can tell when this happens by looking at the airlock -- when it stops bubbling, the yeast has become dormant. Well, mine took just 5 days to get to this point, which allowed me to go ahead and bottle almost a week earlier than I was expecting!
Thus, last Tuesday evening I settled down for a bottling extravaganza. Ocean's 11 is a great background movie for bottling. As is Keeping the Faith. But I digress.
First, I sanitized all the bottles with my good old B-Brite solution. It's a nifty contraption I've got to get the sanitizing solution up in the bottles. I don't care how Freudian it looks; it works well.
Next, I added priming sugar syrup to the bucket -- 2/3 cup of white sugar dissolved in a pint of boiling water, cooled to room temperature. Lots of homebrew recipes recommend corn sugar, but 1) I didn't have any of that, and 2) 90-something percent of all readily-available corn products in the US come from genetically-modified crops. Eeww! So I went with the plain old white sugar. Darker brews work well with brown sugar, and I've heard that you can have good results with honey as well, but it's trickier to get the proportions right.
Next, with Sara's help, I transfered the brew from the carboy fermenter to my plastic bottling bucket (it has a handy spigot tap at the bottom) by means of the siphon and hose. I let the brew sit in the bucket for a few minutes to allow the bubbles to calm down while I prepared the bottles.

Bottling into 12 oz. bottles is slightly trickier than into 750 mL wine bottles, but I soon got the hang of it. The bottling-wand-thingy is really neat, although when, at the bottom of the bucket, hop goop gets caught in the nozzle tip valve, it has a habit of trickling liquid out even when it's not supposed to. That's a good sign for when to stop bottling.
Then comes the capping. I managed to crush about 5 bottle caps, mostly towards the end when I was getting impatient.

I managed to bottle about 51 bottles before I got down to the dregs. 2 cases plus a 3-pack.

Now comes the 2-week waiting period, to allow that carbonation to build up in the bottles.

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