There are two ways to bottle. The right way and the easy way.
The Right Way: at least an hour before you plan on bottling, ideally the night before, move your fermenter from its storage location to a countertop, being very careful not to disturb the trub (the sludge that settles to the bottom of your fermenter), as you want this to be left behind when you move your beer into the bottling bucket.
Ensure you have all of the proper equipment and materials on hand. At a minimum you'll need:
- A bottling bucket with spigot
- A bottle filler
- Siphon equipment (we recommend using an auto-siphon and racking cane)
- Tubing for siphon equipment (4' - 6') and bottle filler (3")
- Bottles (approximately 2 cases of 12 oz. or 22 oz.)
- Crown caps (if using cap-able amber bottles*)
- A bottle capper (if using cap-able amber bottles*)
- A small sauce pot
- A spoon
- 5 oz. of priming sugar
Sanitize everything but the capper, pot, and spoon.
Add 6 tablespoons of One-Step or B-Brite into the bottling bucket (make sure the spigot is closed!) along with the bottle filler, siphon equipment, and tubing. Fill it to the brim with warm tap water.
Place the crown caps in a small bowl add a small sprinkle of sanitizer and fill with warm tap water.
In a large laundry sink or other container, mix an appropriate amount of One-Step or B-Brite with warm tap water and submerge all of your bottles in the solution.
Let the equipment and bottles soak for 10 to 15 minutes.
Rinse the bottles and place upside down in their original cases to dry.
Empty the bottling bucket through it's spigot. This will ensure that there's no bacteria hiding within the spigot. When the bucket is drained of sanitizer, rinse it and the equipment within, making sure that there's no sanitizing chemicals left behind. Don't forget to let some water drain through the spigot as well.
Delicately attach 4 to 6 feet of tubing to the cane within the sanitized auto-siphon and attach the other end to a racking cane.
Carefully slide the auto-siphon into the beer that is sitting on the counter making sure not to jam the bottom of the siphon into the trub at the bottom.
Place the bottling bucket on the floor beneath the fermenter.
Place the racking cane into the bottling bucket.
Gently start the auto-siphon and siphon the beer to the bottom of the bottling bucket making sure the racking cane is at the very bottom of the bottling bucket so that no splashing occurs. It's a good idea to place a lid on top of the bottling bucket at this point, you won't be able to put it on all the way because of the racking cane. That's okay, you're covering to prevent any germs from settling into the bucket as it fills.
While the beer is siphoning into the bottling bucket, bring a pint of filtered or distilled water to a boil.
Add the entire 5 oz. packet of the priming sugar from your recipe kit. Stir the sugar to dissolve.
Boil the sugar water for a few minutes and then turn the heat off.
When the beer is almost done siphoning into the bottling bucket, gently and evenly pour the sugar water into the beer (it's okay that the sugar water is hot).
Use the racking cane as a spoon and carefully, but thoroughly, stir the the sugar into the beer.
It's extremely important to make sure that the sugar is evenly distributed throughout the beer so that all of the beer bottles carbonate evenly later on.
Once all of the beer has been siphoned into the bottling bucket, move the fermenter and siphon equipment out of the way.
Carefully lift the bottling bucket onto the counter. Make sure the lid is on and the spigot is facing you and pointing down.
Carefully attach the bottle filler to the spigot with small piece of tubing (same diameter tubing that you used for siphoning, just a few inches is fine). Once the bottle filler is securely connected to the spigot, open the spigot, the beer will flow to the bottom of the bottle filler.
Empty the bowl and rinse the caps.
Ensure your bottles and capper are nearby.
Bring a bottle up to the bottle filler, allowing the bottle filler to slide inside the bottle. When the bottom of the bottle filler contacts the bottom of the bottle, the beer will begin to flow.
Fill the bottle to the top and then quickly remove it from the filler. The beer level should drop to about halfway up the neck.
Get crown cap, trying to avoid touching the inside of the cap (to help prevent infections later on), place it on top of the bottle and "cap it" with the capper. Don't push too hard with the capper. If you see a dimple in the cap after capping, then you probably pushed to hard.
Repeat until all your beer is bottled.
The Easy Way: at least a week before bottling, move your beer from the fermentation bucket to your bottling bucket so that the trub (the sludge that settles to the bottom of your fermenter), has time to settle.
The day before bottling, move the bottling bucket to an elevated platform that allows enough room for your fermentation bucket to sit under the bottling bucket.
On the bottling day, ensure all bottles and equipment is sanitized. Sanitize the spigot nozzle of the bottling bucket.
- Fermentation Bucket
- Beer Bottle Caps
- 12 or 22oz Beer Bottles
- Cooking Pot
- Measuring Cup
- Priming Sugar
Use the spigot to pour the beer from the bottling bucket to the fermentation bucket. Dump the trub in the sink.
Boil two cups of water and add 5oz priming sugar. Ensure all sugar is dissolved and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
Clean and sanitize the empty bottling bucket. Make sure the inside and outside of the spigot is clean.
Pour the sugar solution into the bottling bucket.
Move the beer from the fermentation bucket back into the bottling bucket.
Begin to fill the beer bottles by placing them in the spigot.
Once all the bottles are full, cap the beer.
Store your beer for at least 2 weeks at the right temperature.
For this California Common, room temperature is ideal (around 68°). Do not store in a garage or other outdoor space. Basements or closets are preferable.
Test one of your bottles for carbonation after two weeks or so. Open it and listen for the "phhfffssst!" sound that you're used to hearing when you open any good bottle of beer.
If that sound is there, then pour some of the beer into a glass and look at the carbonation. If it looks carbonated, taste it. If you are happy with the level of carbonation, then you can continue to store the beer where it is, or put it in a fridge.
If the beer isn't completely carbonated, the only thing you can do is wait.
Sometimes homebrew will carbonate quickly and sometimes it will take longer than expected. A biological process is occurring in each bottle. Most beers should be completely carbonated within a month if stored at the right temperature.