After beer has finished fermenting it is time to bottle. Did you know that home brewing is good for the environment? When making the RWG IPA the Valley Forge brewers did their part to reduce, reuse and recycle by bottling in reusable twelve ounce beer bottles. After being washed and sterilized in a mild iodine or bleach solution glass beer bottles can be reused indefinitely. Most of our bottles started their lives as commercially purchased beers. Instead of throwing away the bottles, we reuse them over and over. Most of our bottles have been traded as gifts between us many times. Oh, if our bottles could speak what stories they would tell … oh what beers had they contained.
Anyway, we siphoned our beer from the glass carboys to a plastic food grade bucket and added corn sugar. The corn sugar is added to facilitate the carbonation of the beer. The sugar will be eaten by the surviving yeast; the yeast will release carbon dioxide. Because the bottles will be sealed and the carbon dioxide has nowhere to go, it will force carbonate the beer. Warning, over pressurized beer bottles can explode! Therefore, it is important to be sure that the fermentation process is complete before bottling. I have never had bottles explode, but just to be on the safe side, I usually store my homebrew on a surface that will not be damaged by liquids. I also cover the brew with a blanket to catch potential broken glass shards. Our food grade bucket has a spigot at its base, so we can use gravity to fill our bottles. I also have a caper to seal new caps to the tops of my bottles. It is important to buy new caps and not reuse old caps, in order to make sure all of the beers have a tight seal.
For most experienced home brewers, bottling is their least favorite part of the brewing process. It can be very time consuming to clean and sterilize all of the twelve ounce bottles needed for a five gallon batch. Generally, the larger your bottle, the shorter your cleaning time. So, larger bottles are more desirable. Kegging is even more time efficient because the beer can be siphoned directly from the carboy to the keg. I recently purchased my first kegging system, and I will discuss kegging in more detail during a future blog.
Get ready for a very special Valley Forge brewing blog! Next Month, I will discuss aging and most importantly tasting the RWG Imperial IPA.