Though many brewers bemoan the act of bottling homebrew, others find bottling their brews to be an opportunity to disconnect from the modern world, to clear the mind, and hey, why not have a homemade beer while you’re at it?
Bottling homebrew does not have to be difficult. But for some reason it can be tempting to put it off until the last minute. As Seneca once said, “We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” Like many tasks, bottling homebrew is more stressful in our minds than it really is!
To help maintain the zen mindset while bottling your homebrew, consider these tips and make it as easy and painless as possible.
10 Tips for Bottling Homebrew
- Use label-free bottles. Removing labels from 50 bottles is no easy chore. Either buy some new ones, or see if you can get some from your local brewery.
- Set aside plenty of time for the task at hand. Rushing will only cause problems down the line. Two to three hours should be enough for bottling five gallons of homebrew (unless you have to remove labels from bottles – then plan on 3-4 hours).
- Clean your work area ahead of time. It’s much easier to cook in a clean kitchen. The same goes for when you’re bottling homebrew.
- Recruit a helper. Bottling homebrew is always more enjoyable with a friend. Dividing tasks also saves time and helps the time to go by faster. And who knows, you might end up inspiring a new homebrewer in the process.
- Start with clean beer bottles. This is my favorite tip for bottling homebrew. If you’re reusing beer bottles, rinse them out as soon as you’re done with them. When the bottles are already clean, all they need is a quick soak in sanitizer solution and you’re ready to go.
- Move the carboy into position early. Getting the carboy into position on the counter gives yeast and other sediment time to settle before racking to the bottling bucket.
- Use a priming sugar calculator. Avoid bottle bombs and gushers. Use a priming calculator to pinpoint your target carbonation levels.
- Don’t forget the caps! This is a bottling tip I wish I could remember. More than once I’ve gotten halfway through bottling my beer, only to realize I hadn’t sanitized the bottle caps. Be sure to do this before pouring out your sanitizer solution!
- Reuse 6-pack carriers and case boxes. These make transport, organization, and storage easy.
- Keep beer bottles in a warm (room-temperature), dark area and patiently wait for 2-3 weeks. This may be the hardest tip for bottling homebrew to follow. To resist the temptation of cracking open a homebrew early, buy some nice, high-quality beer to enjoy in the interim.
What tips do you have for bottling homebrew?
David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.