Friday, November 28, 2008

Bottling Day!

Time to bottle finally arrived this past Wednesday, so I spent a few hours sanitizing our bottles and whatnot and getting everything all ready to go.

Here they are, ready to receive. One 5 gallon batch makes about 2 cases, or 50 beers. We finally have enough bottles from previous batches that we don't have to soak and remove labels anymore - which saves a lot of time, let me tell you. After you wash bottles out, you leave them in a sanitizing solution (I have my suspicions it's just oxyclean, but I'm not sure) for about 3 minutes. You don't have to rinse - just let them dry out some. Now you're ready to go!

In order to carbonate, you have to add one last blast of sugar for the yeast to eat up - yes, those bubbles are just yeast gas (tee hee!). There are a lot different ways to do this, and this batch we're trying out using dried malt extract (DME). We dissolved the DME in about equal parts water, and boil it for around 10 minutes, to make sure there's no bacteria hanging out in it. Then we gently added it into the beer. Now we're really ready to bottle.

We siphoned the beer out of the carboy, previous to this, and into the bottling bucket, which has a spigot. At this point, you just turn on your spigot and fill up the bottles - carefully. There are little things you can attach to you spigot that make it easier - they fill when touching the bottom of the bottle, then stop as soon as you remove the pressure. Ours broke a couple of batches ago, and it wasted a lot of beer, so we're sticking to our spigot.

After you fill, you cap. We have a handy dandy bottle capper to make this happen.
After placing a new cap on, you just place the capper over it, and press down with both handles. It takes a little oomph, but not too much. I think this is the fun part of bottling.

Well after 50, give or take, there you are - 2 cases of beer, made by your own little self. Sadly, we have to let these guys bottle age. If we drank them now, they wouldn't be fizzy and they might not taste as great as they will in 4-5 weeks. With cane sugar, you can usually drink after about 3 weeks, but DME takes a little longer. So, here they are, back in the coat closet, silently becoming delicious. Eat up, eat up, little yeasties.

Since there's usually a few sips that won't go into a bottle, we tested this out, and guys - it was good. It's always a pleasant surprise when it turns out the way you'd hoped. It tastes like wonderful, fresh, creamy Guinness - better than any I've had bottled or draft, in the U.S. or U.K. So, now we have another reason to be excited about Christmas Eve - we can celebrate by cracking open our own yummy Guinness!

1 comment:

K. Scott said...

A cheer for beer! Looks great. What better way to spend the day after Turkey Day.