Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Finishing the First Batch: Bottling Prep

It's been quite some time since I have posted about the Irish Red that's been living in my bathroom. No, I'm not talking about Lucky (of some notable fame in the cereal industry.) I'm referring to the Brewer's Best Irish Red kit I started about a month and a half ago. As you all know, the blog is primarily about Brewing; it's time to get back to business.

Unless you count drinking the beer, bottling is the last step in the homebrew process. The beer is totally flat when you put it in the bottles and needs to condition for several weeks to reach its full flavor and fizziness (unlike kegs and cans which are carbonated using bottled gas.)

If you rinse your bottles right after using them, this step is pretty simple. You use a little bit of star-san or iodine and can fill the bottles forthwith. Since I seem to make stupid mistakes quite often,  many of my bottles are reclaimed from the recycling (and still have labels.) The ones from the last batch seem to have been a home for spiders and cat hair. Needless to say, they need to be evicted. I probably have enough mold in there to knit a sweater. I'm joking -- I could probably only make baby socks.

What should have been a twenty minute job is going to likely take several hours. To break it down: I need to soak off the labels in hot water and baking soda, rub off the labels with steel wool, scrub them out with soapy water, then sterilize them in some Star-San. Just like dusting, I've been putting this one off way too long. Right now the bottles are soaking in baking soda and soap, creating a foul brine.

As an aside:
Every time somebody puts one of my hand cleaned perfectly label free bottles in the recycling it breaks my heart. We're so used to using a bottle once and discarding it that it seems like second nature. If a homebrewer gives you some beer, kindly save and return the bottles. I'm sure they will appreciate it.


  1. I used to buy some home brew from a friend. He gave a discount if you returned the bottles on the next batch. Now, I understand why.

  2. HA HA! Baby socks. I love it. Is that a CLEAR bottle in your bucket!?

  3. Those were emergency bottles in case I didn't have enough. Ended up with 44.5 bottles of beer, so I didn't need them.