European Brown Ale: Bottling

This baby has been in the secondary for 2 weeks:

It’s time to bottle it! We’ve been saving bottles for months, piled up in Heather’s house and my closet, and they are finally ready to be used.

We begin by laying out all of the secondhand bottles and picking which ones we’ll use. The batch is roughly 5 gallons, so I expect to fill about 50 12-ounce bottles.

The bottles are selected and washed by hand with soap and warm water. I try to keep the selection as consistent as possible by choosing bottles of similar design. (Mostly Sam Adams – I’m digging their Winter Classics collection!)

After washing, all of the bottles are loaded into the dishwasher for sanitizing. The dishwasher is set to run a normal hot wash cycle, but without soap. I just want the heat to sanitize the bottles. So, the dishwasher runs… And runs some more.

It must have taken between 1 1/2 and 2 hours for the dishwasher to finish. Meanwhile, Heather and I walk into Culver City to get a pizza. Then we watch a bicyclist receive a ticket from the police and get taken away in an ambulance outside my house. Definitely going to choose another method for sanitizing next time.

Before bottling, a mixture of priming sugar (dextrose) and hot water is added to the beer, which then sits for about half an hour. However, I forget about this step and don’t realize it until after the dishwasher is done. Trying to make the most out of the time, Heather and I practice using the auto siphon on a bucket of water to get a handle on the technique before we apply it on the actual beer.

30 minutes later, we’re bottling! We organize a setup with one person pumping the auto siphon and the other depressing the siphon output end into empty bottles. When a bottle is filled we place a sanitized cap on it and move it from the bottling station to the table.

Transferring the beer takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes. This batch fills 45 12-ounce bottles and a bonus 750 ml as well.

I make sure to clean the carboy right away to avoid any sticky residue buildup inside. Here are some action shots. Epic cleaning!

Capping is a breeze. Of course, it’s difficult to resist the temptation to try the brew right now, what with so many uncapped bottles about.

It’s tasty! Flat, of course, but good. Somewhat yeasty, not very hoppy, slightly sweet. I’m very excited to know what this batch will taste like after carbonation, which should take about 20 days. After that, I’ll crack one open, snap a few beauty shots, and close the documentary of this batch with some taste notes. ’till then:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *