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Home Brew Rookie with Bottling Question

I’m brand new to Home Brewing, but very excited about my new hobby! I got the Brew, Share, Enjoy Starter Kit and started brewing about 5 days ago. I’ve been reading various posts on the forum, and from what I gather NB instructions that come with the kits aren’t the greatest, so I’ve been thankful for all the information I’ve found on the forum so far. The kit instructions call for fermentation for two weeks, then bottling, and then letting the beer sit at room temperature in the bottles for two weeks before refrigerating. I’ve read elsewhere on the forum though that some folks recommend letting the beer sit in the fermenter for three weeks, and then bottling and letting it sit in the bottles for just a week before refrigeration. Is there a preferred method, or a “right” or “wrong” way to do it? The beer is Block Party Amber Ale if that makes a difference. Thanks in advance!

Let the beer sit in the fermentor until it’s ready. How do you know it’s ready? Best answer- use a hydrometer. If you get the same reading three days apart, you’re good. If you don’t have a hydrometer? Three weeks is probably safe.

Next, you didn’t ask, but priming sugar. Use a priming calculator, ideally. If I’m winging it, 1/8 cup beet/cane sugar per gallon is an average starting point. I’ve heard the 5 Oz corn sugar packet can over carb.

Let the bottles sit warm for a while. If in a warmer room, they carb faster. My beer storage is mid-sixties, and it’s never taken less than 3 weeks to carb a bottle. A trick is to use 1 plastic bottle. Fill it, squeeze the head space out, and cap. As it carbs, it will puff, and get nice and firm. That should tell you it’s ready.

Once your test bottle is nice and firm, chill a few bottles. 2 days is good enough for me…

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That’s spot on. Can’t go by a calendar. I can tell you with the only ABSOLUTE, your beer will NOT be carbed in 1 week.

I don’t know loopie. A beer I won an award with it is 15 days from yeast pitch to drinking. People went nuts for it.

No kiddin’!? 15 days? How many of those were bottle conditioning?

6 went to the competetion but I always drink that one early and fast. No more than 10 day primary. I call it a wheatless white. Got the traditional coriander and white labs wit yeast just used pilsen syrup. I drained a keg of it once at a barbecue that was 10 day primary and force carbed for 5 days.

Thanks for all the advice! I have a hydrometer coming by Wednesday, so I’ll plan on using that to determine when fermentation is over. I don’t have much if any air lock activity anymore 6 days in, but from what I’ve read it doesn’t sound like that necessarily means anything as long as there was activity at some point, which there was.

You’ve got me thinking now about the priming sugar…I was planning to just use the 5oz. packet of corn sugar, but I definitely don’t want the beer to be over carbed. Should I look in to using something else, or just roll with the corn sugar for this go around?

I really like the idea of using a test bottle to test the carbonation, thanks for that suggestion! This may be a stupid question but what do you mean by “squeeze the head space out” after filling the bottle?

That means fill the bottle like normal, which usually leaves a little air in the neck. Then squeeze the bottle until the beer is up to the brim, almost overflowing.

Got it, thank you! I will definitely be trying that out.

Take a look at NBs carbonation calculator. I use only this one for consistency and keep good notes on how much priming sugar was used, number of bottles filled, and if I had a carbonation problem 3 months later after sipping many.

Play with the numbers. You will see that the temperature entered influences the amount of sugar to use. Cooler beer in the fermentor after fermentation is complete will retain more CO2 in solution than a warmer beer. (I always enter 70°F because at bottling time my beer is almost 100% free of visible CO2 bubbles in the SG sample.)

Priming sugar by weight is always much more accurate than using a volume measure.

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Thanks for the suggestion. I’m glad you showed me that, because I plugged in 70° for American Amber Ale and it tells me to use 3.96oz of corn sugar. Assuming that’s my temperature when fermentation is complete, I think using the entire 5oz packet as I was planning to would over carb the beer!

I would use the entire packet of corn sugar when I first started brewing with NB products. Had a lot of over carbonated beers. Couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong with the brewing and fermentation. Then I found the calculator.

So it sounds like you are force carbonating rather than bottle conditioning. Bottle conditioning takes more time than force carbonating.

Sorry that was pretty unclear. The competetion beer was bottle condiyioned. 15 days yeast to drink

Quick update: I bottled two nights ago, and initially had my beer in my basement, where the temperature is mid to low 60s right now. Last night, I moved the bottles of beer upstairs where it’s more like 71. I did the trick suggested here of bottling one of the beers in a plastic bottle, and squeezed the head space out. This morning, I noticed that that bottle has already puffed out…no longer squeezed in like it was initially after I squeezed out the head space and capped it. It’s not completely firm, but much more firm than it was last night obviously. Should I be concerned, or is this normal after 36 hours or so? I used 3.96oz of corn sugar for my 5 gallon batch of Amber Ale. Thanks in advance.

Does the plastic bottle in the above mentioned trick affect the flavor? (I am assuming it’s still drinkable)

I’m not sure if it affects the flavor, but I would assume it does not. I first heard the trick from @uberculture in this thread but have since seen it in many other posts, so it seems a pretty common practice.

You’re pouring it in a glass, so no major difference in flavor. Any difference I’ve noticed can also be explained by flavors changing as the beer ages in the bottle.

My local bottle shop has Baltika 9 in giant plastic bottles… I’ve always wanted to buy one to take to the park, mostly for irony’s sake, but I’d be flat on my back after a few pulls.

When I bottled, I frequently used 1 L plastic bombers with screw caps in addition to glass bottles. I never noticed any difference in flavor and it did help with determining when they were carbed. I would advise keeping the bottles in some sort of contained vessel in the event of possible bottle bombs. I used a big rubbermaid container with a lid.

:beers:
Rad

Thanks for the advice. It’s now about 48 hours after bottling, and the plastic bottle feels pretty firm and the bottom of it looks slightly rounded. Is this common this early after initially bottling? Should I bring the bottles back down to the basement where it’s cooler?

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