Priming and Bottling

Priming & Bottling

This ale beer will be ready to bottle in two weeks when primary fermentation has completely stopped. There should be few, if any, bubbles in the airlock. The flavor won’t improve by bottling any earlier. Some books recommend bottling after the bubbling stops or in about 1 week. It is not uncommon for fermentation to stop after 3-4 days and begin again a few days later. If the beer is bottled too soon, the beer will be over-carbonated and the pressure may exceed the bottle strength. Exploding bottles are a disaster.

After the bottles have been cleaned with a brush, rinse them with sanitization solution to sanitize and allow to drain upside down in the six-pack holders or on a rack. Do not rinse out with tap water unless it has been boiled. (Rinsing should not be necessary.) Also sanitize priming container, siphon unit, stirring spoon and bottle caps. But do not heat the bottle caps, as this may ruin the gaskets or tarnish them.

Boil 3/4 cup of corn sugar or 1 and 1/4 cup Dry Malt Extract in some water and let it cool. Here are two methods of Priming:

1. Pour the corn sugar mixture into the sanitized Bottling Bucket. Using your sanitized siphon unit, transfer the beer into the sanitized bottling bucket. Place the outlet beneath the surface of the priming solution. Do not allow the beer to splash as you don’t want to add oxygen to your beer at this point. Keep the intake end of the racking tube an inch off the bottom of the fermenter to leave the yeast and sediment behind. See Note on Siphoning.

2. Opening the fermenter, gently pour the priming solution into the beer. Stir the beer gently with the sanitized paddle, trying to mix it in evenly while being careful not to stir up the sediment. Wait a half hour for the sediment to settle back down and to allow more diffusion of the priming solution to take place. Then siphon to your bottles.

Note on Siphoning: Do not suck on the hose to start the siphon. This will contaminate the hose with Lacto Bacillus bacteria from your mouth. Fill the hose with sanitizing solution prior to putting it into the beer. Keep the end pinched or otherwise closed to prevent the solution from draining out. Place the outlet into another container and release the flow; the draining solution will start the siphon. Once the siphon is started, transfer it to wherever.

Some books recommend 1 tsp. sugar per bottle for priming. This is not recommended because it is time consuming and not precise. Bottles may carbonate unevenly and explode.

Place the fill tube of the siphon unit or bottling bucket at the bottom of the bottle. Fill slowly at first to prevent gurgling and keep the fill tube below the waterline to prevent aeration. Fill to about 3/4 inch from the top of the bottles. Place a sanitized cap on the bottle and cap. Inspect every bottle to make sure the cap is secure. Age the capped bottles at room temperature for two weeks, out of direct sunlight. Aging up to two months will improve the flavor considerably, but one week will do the job of carbonation for the impatient.

It is not necessary to store the beer cool, room temperature is fine. It will keep for several months. When cooled prior to serving, some batches will exhibit chill haze. It is caused by proteins left over from the initial cold break. It is nothing to worry about.

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