Saturday, April 25, 2009

First Brew Part II - Bottling

Last Sunday was time to bottle our first beer. After sterilizing the bottling bucket, hoses, racking cane, bottles, caps, etc., put the carboy of beer on a high metal table, with the bottling bucket on a stool below. The instructions say to put the racking cane in the carboy, fill the hose with water, attach one end to the racking cane, drop the other in the bucket, and voila, the beer will start to flow. Nope. Try again. Nope. Problem is I can't get the hose full of water, try as I might. I've got our friend Jeff holding one end under the faucet, and I'm stretching the hose out straight down to the floor, pinch it off when the water is running through all over the floor (finally got smart enough to put a pan down there), but still the dang thing is only half full.

As a backup (the book says only as a LAST resort), I decide to siphon the beer by sucking on the hose. To do this, you must sterilize your mouth by gargling with vodka. Not a problem, but the only vodka I have is in the freezer. So now I'm standing in the kitchen, gargling ice cold vodka. Good news is, I'm sure I don't have cavities.

Down on my knees, I start sucking on the hose until the beer flows. Can't spit it in the bucket, so have to swallow the mouthful of warm, flat beer. Several times I get the beer flowing, but then it stops. Mouthful after mouthful of warm, flat beer. But the great thing is, it tastes like beer!

Finally I call on my high school physics, and this time once I get the beer flowing I plunge the end of the hose into the beer in the bucket. Now we're flowing well. Have to hold the racking cane through the whole process, as the sediment is deeper than the end cap on the cane...don't want all that sediment in the beer.

Bottling from the bucked proves much easier due to the nifty bottling cane. Attach the end of the cane to the hose, hose to the spigot, turn on the spigot, and then push the other end of the cane into the bottom of the bottle. Lift up, and the flow stops. My trusty assistant Jeff and I fill 2 cases of 22 ouncers, me bottling and him capping. Finally all done, put down in the basement to rest for a couple of weeks.

Next report - How does it taste?

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