Bottling and Priming Your Beer

Bottling and Priming Your BeerBrewing beer is a fun experience with tasty results. When you’ve worked hard to make the best beer possible, it’s time to prime and bottle. Priming and bottling are very important steps that are crucial to the success of the entire brewing process. If you have dirty bottles or don’t prime your sugar properly, disaster could strike.

Bottling Preparation

It can be difficult to know when it’s time to bottle. The fermentation process continues even after obvious signs have stopped, and bottling too early can be a disaster. If you bottle too early, your beer will most likely end up tasting terrible. Beer could also make the bottle explode because of an excessive buildup of carbon dioxide from fermentation. This is why you must make sure to calculate how long the fermentation process is going to last. This varies by yeast, the recipe you use, and several other factors.

In order to begin bottling beer, you must buy the appropriate bottles. Glass bottles that are green or brown in color are preferable, and they shouldn’t be twist off. The glass should be of good quality and heavy, not cheap feeling. You can find beer bottles from homebrew supply shops. You could also get bottles from a bar or restaurant.

When bottling beer, sanitation is key. You must make sure all of your bottles are properly sanitized, especially if they are used bottles. There are several ways to sanitize bottles. You can soak the bottles in a solution of bleach water, or use iodophor sanitizer in a correct solution. Regardless, when you clean your bottles, you must not leave germs a place to thrive. You must also make sure your bottles don’t have any sanitizer residue. Don’t forget to rigorously sanitize bottle caps as well.

Priming

With bottles at the ready, it’s time to prime. Priming is when you add a measured amount of a certain sugar to the beer in order to cause a controlled amount of fermentation. This fermentation will make the beer carbonated.

Depending on what beer you’re brewing, the levels of carbonation needed will differ. The types of sugar used for priming vary. Corn sugar and cane sugar are very common priming sugars. Cane sugar tends to cause more carbonation than corn sugar. Brown sugar, honey, dry malt extract, and molasses are other possible choices as well. Be aware that some, like honey, are more difficult to use than others.

For priming measurement, it’s good to know that four grams of sugar for one liter will equate to about one volume of carbon dioxide. From this you can calculate how much carbonation you want to add. You need to factor in the variations that come from the type of sugar you use and the type of beer you are brewing.

As for priming technique, it’s generally easier to prime the entire batch of beer before bottling instead of adding a small amount of sugar to each bottle. This is a time saver and ensures that the priming will be even throughout.

Sanitation while priming is vital as well. When making a priming solution, it’s best to boil your sugar and water in a clean pot. Once your solution is ready, you can transfer it to your bottling bucket by siphon. Using a sanitized bottling bucket and siphon will ensure no bacteria will grow either.

Bottling

With primed beer, you can now start the actual bottling process. You need to slowly transfer the beer from the bottling bucket to the bottle using the fill tube or a bottle filler. If you go too fast, you could aerate the beer which could lessen the taste of the beer. You generally should fill the beer bottle up until there is about 3/4ths of an inch from the top left. Seal the bottle with the cap and allow the beer to age for a month or two for best results.