Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bottle And Label Day

 I put my new custom vinyl labels on 48 PET bottles after they were primed with 2 1/2 teaspoons of cane sugar and filled to roughly 2 inches down from the tops of the bottles.

One of the six recipes bottled

 The six latest recipes I brewed about 3 weeks ago had been busy fermenting away and were now ready to bottle up. They were in an upstairs, room kept at a constant 70F, where they were left undisturbed for the entire time.

Now I had to gently carry them downstairs to the kitchen, trying not to cause any sloshing that would stir up the layer of trub at the bottom of the keg. Over the past 21 days the yeast had been busy turning the recipe's sugars into alcohol and the trub composed mainly of heavy fats, proteins and inactive yeast had compacted nicely in the bottom of the keg.

Compacted trub at bottom of keg

 For me the best part of bottling day is getting to sample each brew to see how it's going to taste. I honestly can say that after fermenting for 21 days the beers I've sampled have always tasted like flat beer, never sweet and never having off flavors. 

Sample of Novacaine before bottling

 After sanitizing the fill tube and enough 1 litre PET bottles to hold the contents of the 6 kegs I primed them with cane sugar and began filling each of them with beer. As you can see the beer going down the fill tube is very clear and free from any left over fermenting debris. This is what you want to see when filling your bottles, no gunk floating around in the beer will mean less sediment in the bottles.

Sediment free pour

 The kegs each had varying amounts of krausen floating at the top in little islands, depending on the complexity of the recipe as a simple recipe may have no foam left at the top or a complex recipe may have more. Either way don't let any of the krausen, or trub, get into your bottles if you want to reduce the amount of sediment in your bottled beer.

Hop sack floating at top

 By the 7th or 8th bottle you'll know whether or not any floating muslin hop sacks are going to block the spigot and prevent the bottle from filling. At this point I just screw off the top and carefully pull the hop sack out with my hand without squeezing it.

 If you follow the same steps I recommend for fermenting, 21 days undisturbed at 70F, you will get the same results I did. Compacted trub at the bottom of the keg that won't easily be disturbed when tipping the end of the keg up about an inch or two in order to fill the 8th bottle.Little or no krausen floating at the top of the keg reduces the risk of it getting pored into your bottles, further reducing the amount of sediment in each bottle.

Krausen floating in nearly empty keg

After the contents of the keg have been poured into bottles I gently tilted the nearly empty keg up toward the spigot and drained the remaining beer off leaving only the compacted layer of trub in the trub tray.

Trub lying at bottom of keg

 Now I put the empty keg in the sink and wash it out under a full stream of running water, using paper towels to wipe off any debris in hard to reach places, usually near the top of the keg. Once the heavy stuff has been removed I fill the keg with about a 1/2 gallon of clean water, screw on the top and shake it vigorously, repeating these steps as needed to get the keg spotless inside. Finally I pour in a gallon of sanitizer solution, screw on the top, shake it up really good and let it soak for 10 minutes before emptying it and storing it away.

Cleaned and sanitized keg ready for storage

 On my next brew day I will take apart the spigot assembly and clean it with a soft brush before screwing it back onto the keg and sanitizing it again. I've brewed 21 two gallon recipes to date using these same methods and each of them has come out free of any contamination or off flavors. The steps are easy to remember, produce consistently good results and reduce the amount of time required to craft some remarkably good tasting beer.


  1. It was poured out pretty thick and had a strong beer taste. This is my first attempt at brewing a Barley Wine, it should be read to try by January 2011.