In case you missed it... check out Part 1, brewing the beer, here!
It's been 3 weeks since we brewed our second batch. The beer fermented for 2 weeks, then we added an additional package of hops according to the instructions (this is called dry hopping) to the beer and let it sit one more week for secondary fermentation.
This past Saturday, it was time to bottle our beer!
First, we had to sanitize everything. We used the bottling bucket to hold the sanitizing liquid (so that it also sanitized the bottling bucket). We screwed on the spigot and then tested the bucket with a little water to make sure the spigot didn't leak.
Then we added 5 gallons of water (filled in our bathtub since we have a baby sized kitchen sink) and 1 oz. sanitizing solution. Make sure you check your specific sanitizing solution to figure out the correct measurements. We sanitized ALL of our bottling equipment: ~50 bottle caps, siphoning equipment, tubing, bottle filler, and ~50 beer bottles.
The beer bottles take the longest- we could only fit about 10-15 bottles in the bucket at one time so we had to do it in a few batches. Make sure the insides of the bottles fill up with sanitizing solution, too!
While the sanitizing was happening, we prepared our bottling sugar. This is ~2/3 c. corn sugar (which is used in brewing because it "tends to be more fermentable and leave less aftertaste than cane or beet sugar", source) and 16 oz water. Bring the mixture to a boil on the stove for a few minutes, then take off the heat and let cool while you finish sanitizing everything.
Once the equipment and bottles were sanitized, we saved some of the sanitizer water in a separate bowl. We often find that we forget to sanitize something vital so having a little reserve comes in handy!
Then we turned the bottling bucket towards the sink and let the sanitizing water drain out of the spigot for at least 2 minutes so that we could be sure the spigot was also sanitized. No pictures of this, oops :)
Once the bottling bucket was emptied of sanitizer, we put the bucket on the floor (propped up on an upside down glass baking dish covered with a towel since the spigot doesn't allow the bucket to sit flat on the floor) and poured in our priming sugar mixture.
(in other news, I think I am FINALLY done using the word "sanitize" in this post.. you're welcome)
Then we put the bucket of fermented beer on the counter and set up our auto-siphon. The siphon is used to move the beer from the fermenting bucket into the bottling bucket. It's a tricky process to get it started but we finally figured out the secret-- you put the siphon in the fermented beer and then the end of the tubing down in the liquid from the priming sugar. Then pump the siphon to create a vacuum and get the beer flowing through the tube down into the bottling bucket.
I would like to take a moment here to admit that Mike is much smarter than I am :) He was the one who reminded me that we needed to put the end of the tube down into the liquid. I told him that was wrong. And wouldn't ya know, he was right...! I'll never admit that again, though ;)
As you are siphoning the beer our of the fermenting bucket, be sure to keep the siphon near the top of the liquid line and follow the liquid down the bucket. There is a lot of sludge at the bottom of the bucket that you don't want to include in your beer! Tilt the bucket once you're getting near the bottom so that you get more of the beer. And when you get close to the end, leave a little bit of beer as a safety margin so that you don't get the sludge in your beer.
That's all the sludge that will be at the bottom of your bucket. You don't want that in your bottles!
Once you've siphoned the beer into the bottling bucket, put the (full) bottling bucket on top of the counter and get ready to start bottling.
The bottling equipment consists of tubing that connects from the bottling bucket spigot to the bottle filler.
We set up our bottling station on the floor. I sit on the floor, put down a dish towel (it can get messy), and fill the bottles on the floor. The bottle filler is inserted into the bottle, you press it down on the bottom of the bottle to depress the lever, and the beer comes out! Then lift up on the bottle filler to stop the flow once you reach the top of the bottle. You should leave about 1" of space in the top of the bottle. It takes one or two to get the hang of it but then it's super simple!
Then Mike picked up the filled bottles and capped them. Our kit came with a capping device- you put a (sanitized) cap on the magnetized capper, put it on top of the bottle, press down on the lever arms, and then your beer is capped! Do that about 49 more times and you're good to go ;)
They suggest that you keep the bottles in a cool, dark place for 1-2 weeks before moving to the refrigerator and drinking. So we piled the bottles back into some empty beer boxes and stored them in our closet. We'll wait a week and put a few in the fridge for moving weekend (how else will we bribe people to help us move?!) and then we'll save the rest to put in the fridge once we get up to Rochester!