The First is bottled

My first batch is bottled at last! For 13 days I was constantly worrying about how the fermentation is going, is the temperature right, is the water still in the airlock, are there any leakages etc. And from day 7 the doubts like – “should I bottle it now?”, “is something wrong?”, “maybe my first batch is all spoiled” – started. Luckily there are enough experienced brewers in the internet who share their knowledge and according to most blogs or websites, it is normal (and maybe even recommended) that the fermentation takes longer than those 6 days described in Muntons manual.

Finally at day 11 the airlock seemed calm enough to take the first hydrometer reading. Unfortunately it wasn’t as low as I hoped, but since my hydrometer isn’t a quality tool (I will buy newone soon), I took another reading 2 days later and as it was the same, I decided to bottle it.

Preparations

As described in my previous post, main tools for bottling were already bought and I only needed to add some secondary equipment, like measuring cup and funnel. I begun with cleaning and sanitizing all equipment, bottles and cups:

preparing for bottling

Cleaned and sanitized

Then I took precautions against spillage or greater disaster, prepared empty boxes for filled bottles and carried in the fermentation bucket. So far everything went as planned and I was well on schedule, but then my “newbie homebrewer” status started to have impact. Before bottling I struggled in deciding how to add the sugar needed for carbonization. Although I found the solution, where the wort is transferred to bottling bucket and then (or during) mixed with sugar, to be the best, I hadn’t bought second bucket yet. For this reason, and because so far I had almost followed the original instructions (except yeast and fermentation time), I chose to insert the sugar to each bottle separately. The decision was made, but I forgot to think about the details, so when the time came I just stared at my brew, ready to be bottled, and felt quite annoyed – such a small thing is holding me back and taking valuable time. Luckily I’m not completely stupid, so I started to add the sugar to bottles and no additional harm was done (except general problems that may arise when adding sugar straight to bottles and of course the waste of time).

The bottling

After the problem with sugar was solved (more or less) everything went smoothly again – I attached bottle filler to the fermenting buckets tap and started to fill the bottles, one by one. I have to send big thanks to all bloggers and also to my supplier for making me buy this simple bottle filler:

Bottle filler

Bottle filler

It made the bottling fast and simple with minimal cost, as promised. Same thing goes for the bottle washer and drying tree – good results and easier handling with minimal cost. Of course there are more advanced versions and solutions available, but those simple devices worked fine for me and since I do not plan to start a “mass beer production”, I believe these tools will help me with many brews.

So with no major setbacks, the bottling was finished approximately 30 minutes later then planned (that bloody sugar) – not bad for the first time. The bucket was empty and bottles were full:

Empty bucket

Empty bucket

42 bottles

42 bottles of beer

Bottled – lessons learned

My first homebrew is now in bottles and here are the things I will do differently next time:

  1. Use second bucket for bottling (bought already, together with silicone pipe).
  2. Add sugar to bottling bucket, not to every bottle separately.
  3. Probably will use regular bottles and caps (cheaper and could use recycled bottles). Bottles with Grolsch-style swing-cap will still be my favourites 🙂

There are some things I will do differently in the earlier stages also, but I will discuss them in another post. Now there is minimum 3-4 weeks waiting time before I can decide if my first homebrew was a success, a complete failure or a drinkable “good lesson”. For a few days more my beer fridge will wait together with me (while carbonizing, hopefully):

Empty fridge

Ready for beer 🙂

Even if this batch comes out spoiled or tasteless, I have learned valuable lessons and will be much more confident when I start my next brew (within a week or so). Feel free to comment my efforts and follow my blog to find out how my first homebrew will taste and how I start the next.