Ready for bottling

Ideally, I’d like to get to the stage where I can just keep my brewed wares in chilled kegs, and pump to the glass using carbon dioxide. Until I get to that stage though, I’m stuck with the humble bottle. This is the most laborious part but it’s a necessary evil. It could be a fucking expensive evil too, if I paid the going rate for new bottles. Luckily, used glass bottles are easy enough to come by – $4 per doz inc wooden crate from The Mill if you’re lucky enough to be around when they’re getting rid of a few. Or FREE if your neighbour happens to be having a clear out! When you gets ’em for free though, they are often some way from sterile. In fact, at least a dozen of the batch I picked up from The Mill were some way from ‘not full of mud and dead snails’, so I guess they had been dredged up from the river or something.

No matter, a couple of hours stood at the kitchen sink with bottle brush and they are looking halfway presentable. Almost all have labels, which need to be soaked off as they’re either Speight’s or DB Draught and we don’t want people thinking that’s what’s in them, do we?

For drying freshly sanitized bottles, I built a simple holy shelf from 18mm MDF and a 25mm spade bit.

WP_20150224_12_45_20_ProAfter they are dry, I turn them the right way up and seal the tops with cling film until I’m ready to insert the beer. Which is a few days later. I don’t want to get a reputation for rushing things.

Anyway, 3 weeks since brewing, the bubbling in the airlock has stopped, so it must be time to bottle. I don’t bother with drawing off 100ml to test the SG to make absolutely sure that fermentation has finished (as one is supposed to), I don’t think the hydrometer is accurate enough. I potter around in the vicinity for half an hour or so, and I see or hear no evidence that any bubbles have escaped in that time, so I conclude we are done.

I add 2 drops of priming sugar to each of my nice clean bottles and using the filling straw, have all 18L bottled in no time. The crown capper I bought is not particularly well made – it’s an all plastic affair and I suspect its not built to last all that long, so I am as careful as I can be with it. It works like a charm though, and there is definitely something very satisfying about holding a (full) 750ml brown bottle with a professional looking gold cap on the top.

As I’m clearing up I taste some of the residue that didn’t fit in the last bottle – it’s really quite delicious! Flat obviously, and a little sweet, but definitely promising. Can’t wait for it to condition…

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