Homebrewing 101 - Part 4
Racking Your Homebrew
Your beer should now be in the secondary fermenter. After 3-5 days in the secondary, you should find that the beer has ‘fallen clear’. If for some reason it is still cloudy, a fining or clarifying agent can be added to accelerate the clarification process. Once the beer is clear and all activity has stopped, you are ready to bottle your beer. The ideal way to bottle is to rack the beer to a bottling bucket (a food grade pail with a spigot attached). Leave any sediment behind in the secondary fermenter. The next step is to mix-in the priming sugar (ideally corn sugar) to create carbonation in the bottle.
Siphoning and Priming Your Homebrew
Siphon the beer from the secondary fermenter and into your bottling bucket. Place your siphon deep enough into the secondary fermenter to begin siphoning the beer but not so deep as to disturb the sediment. The goal is to siphon all of the beer out of the fermenter without picking up the sediment.
Filling and Capping Your Homebrew
Once the priming sugar is evenly dissolved throughout the batch of beer, it is time to start filling the bottles. The bottles can be filled directly from the bottling spigot or through the spigot and into a bottle filling wand. Be sure to leave around ¾ of an inch of headroom at the top of the beer bottle. Once your bottles are filled, you will need to cap them. Grape and Granary offers a good assortment of cappers and bottle caps for this part of the process. Position your capper atop the bottle cap and apply equal pressure to the capper handles. This will crimp the cap to your beer bottle.
Storage and Conditioning of Your Homebrew
Carbonation is a key part of good beer. Most people do not enjoy flat sodas, and the same can be said for beer. Carbonation simply helps to bring out the best flavors in your beer. You will need to store the just bottled beer at 60-70 degrees F. for one to two weeks to allow the carbonation process to take place (this is also known as conditioning). Once you are sure the bottles of beer are carbonated (you can check this by opening a bottle), you can then store them at a cooler temperature if you wish. Some higher alcohol styles of beer may take 3-4 weeks to carbonate.
Time to Drink!
You’ve waited long enough! This process started weeks ago when you began brewing your beer. Over time you have added all the necessary ingredients, waited for the fermentation process to take place, allowed the beer to clarify, bottled the beer and waited for it to condition. Your beer is now ready to drink! Go ahead and chill a bottle to drinking temperature prior to prying off the cap. It is time to kick back, relax, and congratulate yourself on your successful batch of beer! You will likely feel a great amount of satisfaction of having brewed the beer yourself. No beer tastes better than one that you have crafted yourself!