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Bottling my first home brew

I’m going to be bottling for the first time. My question is how do I thoroughly mix the sugar water in the beer and not get to much air in the mixture? Thanks for any help you can give me.

We put the sugar water in the bottling bucket, then rack the beer in. The hose lays in the bottom and creates a circular flow which mixes it pretty well. I also give a gentle stir at the end. The goal is to add as little O2 as possible. But don’t panic about it too much, treat it gently, relax, and all will be well.

+1

You can stir it as you go too. Maybe once every 8-12 bottles. As long as you are not creating bubbles in the liquid you are just fine.

Thanks for the quick responses. I’ll do as you all suggested.

Hint: Fill 1 soda bottle with your beer. Squeeze the O2 out and screw the cap on. As CO2 is produced, the bottle will expand. No wondering what is happening in the glass bottles.

Even after the soda bottle is expanded, let them sit for 3 weeks. Then place a couple in the fridge for 2 days. THEN enjoy!

[quote=“Nighthawk”]Hint: Fill 1 soda bottle with your beer. Squeeze the O2 out and screw the cap on. As CO2 is produced, the bottle will expand. No wondering what is happening in the glass bottles.

Even after the soda bottle is expanded, let them sit for 3 weeks. Then place a couple in the fridge for 2 days. THEN enjoy![/quote]
I do this too, when we get to the end. When there is not enough to fill one more bottle, whatever’s left goes into a plastic water bottle. Often it’s only an inch or two. The trick, as Nighthawk says, is to crush the bottle and remove as much air as possible, but a little left is OK.

Depending on how much beer gets in the bottle, it will usually un-crush itself in a week, and may even get firm from the pressure. But pressurized does not mean “ready to drink.” the extra time makes sure all that C02 is dissolved in the beer, and gives the beer more time to condition.

We usually each have one after 2 weeks and take some notes, then let the rest continue conditioning. We taste again after 3, and compare notes. Everyone just says “wait 3 weeks;” when you compare the taste at 2 wks versus 3 you can really understand why. I can really taste the difference between weeks 2 and 3. The difference between weeks 3 and 4 is less dramatic to me. The optimum time to wait for conditioning (versus carbonation) depends on the style of beer and how refined your pallet is; mine is fairly unrefined. 3 weeks seems best for me, although I’ve seen some Scotch ale, and Barleywine recipe’s that talk about 8 months as the minimum. That’s a bit beyond MY patience threshold at this time. If you’re doing a Miller Lite clone, you’re probably good to start cracking them in earnest after a week :slight_smile:

Another hint, in a month or two, as you get to the end of your first batch, buy a 6 of some professional beer(s) in the same style, and compare yours to theirs. Do some googling on the difference and you’ll really start to see which differences are recipe choices, and which highlight ways to improve your technique. I learn a lot by reading reviews of the kits I make, I look for when people post what they added/subtracted from the kits and the results.

I’m glad I decided to join the forum, you all have given me great info.thanks JMcK, I do read lots of the reviews and enjoy them, and I’m learning from them.I have lots of questions so hope everybody doesn’t mind answering a beginner.Thanks again!

I also put the sugar solution in the bottom of the bucket. I siphon from my fermenter through the bottling spigot so that all beer flows into the bucket from the bottom. Works well.

If you decide you want to stir the beer in the bucket, make sure your stirrer is sanitized. Stir gently to minimize the oxygen getting into your beer; at this point, O2 getting into your beer can lead to oxidation off flavors (think wet cardboard) and reduce the shelf life of your hard-won brew.

I should also mention to avoid strong flavored soda bottles. Dr Pepper, Mr Pib, Root Beer. The flavor may transfer to your beer.

Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, 7-UP, Mt Dew… Should have no issues with these.

I don’t actually drink from the plastic bottles, I just use them to keep track of carbonation. Mine are usually < 1/2 full, so there’s too much headspace for the beer itself to actually carbonate.

Are you saying you can actually condition in soda bottles? I thought they were too O2 permeable.

[quote=“JMcK”]Are you saying you can actually condition in soda bottles? I thought they were too O2 permeable.[/quote]Back when I was bottling 20-30 gallons at a time, I would put roughly half the beer into 1L and 2L PET bottles (generic club soda is cheap, the bottles are sanitary, and no chance of flavor left in the bottle). Once carbed, I would keep them in the walk-in (around 60F most of the time) or the fridge and they were good for many months before even the faintest hint of oxidation occurred.

I don’t actually drink from the plastic bottles, I just use them to keep track of carbonation. Mine are usually < 1/2 full, so there’s too much headspace for the beer itself to actually carbonate.

Are you saying you can actually condition in soda bottles? I thought they were too O2 permeable.[/quote]

Like Shadetree mentioned, you should be fine for several months.

If you can plan ahead, filling several soda bottles for camping, the beach, sneeking into an alcohol free park, poker night, MNF… Any place you would not want to take glass. Or if you don’t want to carry a 12pk, instead carry 2-3 2lt bottles.

Filling one soda bottle near the beginning and having an extra one for the “leftovers” is a good way to go.

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