Don’t worry, be hoppy

Today is bottling day for my Vulcan Warrior IPA. I figured I would document my procedure for bottling, I find it pretty stress free and I haven’t had any problems since I started doing it this way.

I usually mix up 3 gallons of water to two teaspoons of Iodophor and put that in my rubbermaid bin along with any equipment I am going to use. My equipment usually includes: hydrometer and sample jar, wine thief, autosiphon and hose, bottling bucket, spigot, small cup, vinator, spoon, and sponges dedicated to homebrew use only.

My fermentation vessel is already on the counter from the night before. I also like to wash the kitchen, do the dishes, wipe the counters, etc. If I clean the kitchen and leave the kitchen clean after I am done, I figure there is less chance of annoying the wife with my messes and I can continue using the kitchen for my activities. She actually likes it when I bottle since the kitchen gets a good cleaning.

I get all my supplies in order. Caps and priming sugar is what I needed today. I usually get 52 caps out and 1 oz corn sugar per gallon of beer. I heat 1 pint of water to boil, stir in the corn sugar and boil for 10 minutes and let it cool as I do other things. Like dump the Iodophor solution into by bottling bucket and run some through the spigot and some through the autosiphon. I take a gravity sample and check out the color and smell. I usually put the sample in the fridge to cool off to take a cold taste.

I put the priming solution in the bottling bucket after I swish Iodophor all inside it and drip dry for a few seconds. Then I insert the autosiphon into the beer, cover it with a cloth, insert the hose down to the bottom of the bottling bucket and cover that with a towel as well, and I begin siphoning the beer into the bottling bucket. Yes, my computer is at the ready in case I have any questions as I go and to supply the tunes as well.

While that is siphoning, I begin processing my bottles. I run my bottles through the dishwasher. I have a high temperature setting and a pots and pans setting on my dishwasher so I use them. I put Oxyclean in the detergent holder and use no rinse agents. I also use heat dry. This process takes a couple hours in my dishwasher so I have to plan accordingly.

One by one, I inspect the bottles as I take them out of the dishwasher, then I give them three squirts with the vinator and hang them on my bottling tree. This was a tremendous deal at $15 off Craigslist!

And here we are all ready to start the assembly line. One bottle fills in one hand while I take a bottle off the bottle tree and give it three squirts. Then that bottle drip dries over the dishwasher lid until the filling bottle is full. Then I replace the full bottle with the empty bottle, put the full bottle down on the floor and slide a cap out of the Iodophor in the vinator and slip it over the top of the bottle. Then repeat. And repeat. And repeat…..

Then without even moving, I can cap these bottle and put them in their storage cases to sit at room temperature for three weeks.

I like to bottle one beer in a clear bottle. I put it on the shelf in my kitchen, safe from light. With the clear bottle I can see how the sediment develops as carbonation happens. I also enjoy making the difference in a less fortunate bottle’s life. That is one happy Corona bottle to be finally filled with real beer.

As you can see, you really don’t need to stress out about bottling. Sure, I would love to be able to afford kegging but I bet if you add up all the line cleaning, keg cleaning, CO2 bottle filling and everything else, there really isn’t a huge time savings in kegging. Plus my beer is easy to transport and I can have an unlimited number of my beer styles in the fridge ready at any given time.

The Vulcan Warrior IPA had a FG of 1.017. I don’t know where I started. The Brix was 13.2. But then I did that cascade addition so I have no idea what the OG would be. Based on the FG, this should be 6-7% perhaps?

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