Almost done!!!

Once you're finished with secondary fermentation (as indicated by your final gravity), you are ready to bottle!

Clean bottles and equipment

Stacking bottles to dry after sanitizing.

This step is, admittedly, very tedious. Whether they are store bought or re-used, any bottles must be thoroughly washed, rinsed and sanitized before you trust them to carry your precious brew. After sanitizing, carefully stack them in a strainer to dry. In the words of my brew partner and roommate, Justin, “It’s like a crazy game of Jenga.”

Also at this time you need to sanitize the equipment needed for bottling. This includes the bottling bucket, its nozzle, the siphon, the spring-loaded filling mechanism, and the “cone,” which holds the siphon in the carboy.

Transfer to bottling bucket

Bottling bucket, filled and ready to go.

Once everything is dry, add the dextrose (or other sugar) included with your recipe to the bottling bucket. This will provide the carbonation in the bottle. Then, place the cone and siphon in the carboy and transfer the beer to the bottling bucket, mixing it with the sugars. Again, leave the gunk buildup on the bottom of the fermenter behind.

Fill the bottles

Once all of your beer is in the bottling bucket, begin filling bottles by pushing the bottom of the spring-loaded filler with the interior of the bottle. Leave a few ounces of space at the top of each bottle to accommodate for the air pressure which will build as the bottle carbonates. If you fill them too high, you risk a messy explosion.

Cap the beer

My first batch!

Using the capping tool and your unused caps (both should have been included in your brew kit), cap each bottle by pulling the handles down evenly.

CONGRATULATIONS! YOU DID IT!

You are now a certified home brewer! But, sadly, you cannot drink your beer yet! It needs at least two weeks in the bottle to condition and carbonate. Darker, stronger beers (of which my imperial stout is both) can take up to a month to properly condition, and will only get better with age after that! So once again, patience is key!

Now you have all the necessary skills and equipment to explore your own beer fantasies. Happy Brewing!