Bottle Day… finally!
So my first batch of Mr. Beer is ready for bottling. Actually it’s more than ready. It’s been fermenting for just over 5 weeks now. The timing of my elbow injury was unfortunate for a number of reasons, my brewing schedule was one of them.
I brewed the batch on May 29th, and got injured on May 30th. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into a month… I need to get this stuff out of the LBK (little brown keg) and into the bottle to get the carbonation going. The general rule for home brewing is 2-2-2. 2 weeks in the primary fermentation, (LBK), two weeks in the secondary, (bottles), and two weeks in the fridge, (cold conditioning). So if I had kept to that schedule I’d be drinking my beer this week.
I realize that I can’t work a capper with only one good hand, and I knew I had some swing-top bottles around the garage somewhere. This box looked promising, “12 22 FL.OZ”, looks like a bottle box to me… and the sticker on the side was familiar to me too. Alien Goat was the first beer I ever brewed way back on 5/15/2008. (My memory isn’t that great, I dated the label.) When I opened the box, not only were there a few swing-top bottles, there were also a few 22 oz. bombers of Alien Goat! Oops, guess I forgot about them. I threw one into the fridge for later and started washing the empties.
Wash, Triple Rinse, Sanitize Everything
Sanitize station was setup. Next I washed, triple-rinsed, and threw into the bucket everything I’d be using for bottling: the swing-top bottles I found, a funnel, measuring spoons, and a few of the PET bottles that came with my kit.
I’ve read a bunch about priming leading up to bottle day. Basically there’s batch priming, where you add the priming sugar to the beer in a bottling bucket and then fill your bottles with the mix, or bottle priming where you add the sugar to each individual bottle before filling. Since I was trying to stick to the Mr. Beer book for my first batch of home-brew, I went with bottle priming using table sugar.
The bottle priming was tedious. Accurately measuring the sugar, over and over, was cumbersome. And every once in a while I’d get a clump of sugar stuck in the funnel which slowed it down even more. I definitely see the benefits of batch priming.
Filling the bottles
Almost there… the final stretch. I filled the bottles directly from the spout on the LBK being careful to have the beer run down the side of the bottle, rather than splash down the center. Aeration is not something you want to do at this stage. I left a little space at the top of each bottle and capped them tightly. Next I put each bottle in my bottle box, closed the top, and put it back on the shelf for the next two weeks.
I did it. No capper needed!
Now, about that Alien Goat…
I brewed this one with my buddy Chris at Brewbakers in Huntington Beach. It’s a place where you brew the beer and they clean up the mess. We followed a recipe for a Flemish Brown Ale. I bet Chris still has the recipe somewhere.
You can see that it poured a reddish-brown color, with very little head. After 4 years, I’m not surprised. But what I was surprised about was the flavor. It wasn’t as thin as I had expected. Maybe because we went a little malt heavy on the recipe? If the hops faded, I didn’t even notice. It was never a hoppy beer. For that matter, it wasn’t ever a strong beer either. I don’t think we measured the ABV, but I’d bet it wasn’t even 5%. So not anything that you’d age on purpose. The carbonation was a bit too much for me though. Almost like a soda pop. I’d give it only 2 caps. I’m hoping my Mr. Beer is going to blow doors off this one.
– Beer Soaked Erik