The time had come to bottle our Tripel Karmeliet (AKA Tripel Karmelike. Geddit?) and after training at the Climbing Works, we went round to our friends house to bottle. This isn’t as faffy as brewing, but can still take a long time. So, we ordered sushi from Yama Sushi (good food and they do delivery) and got cracking.
Our friend had already prepped the fermentation bucket on a chair, wrapped in his down jacket. This means that all the crud which would have been agitated by moving the carboy had time to settle before we started to transfer the beer from where it had been fermenting to the bottling bucket.
The first thing to do is siphon off all the ‘good’ beer from the trub that’s left at the bottom of the bucket. You don’t want this in the beer. By siphoning off the beer into the bottling bucket contamination is prevented.
Having the fermenting bucket higher than the bottling bucket helps with the siphoning process.
It’s also important not to get air in beer, so we took great care to prevent this in the siphoning process.
When close to the bottom of the fermentation bucket, you’ll see lots of ‘trub’. This is the is sediment that occurs at the bottom of the fermentor after the yeast has completed the bulk of the fermentation. According to wikipedia, it’s composed of heavy fats, proteit and inactive yeast. It really important to prevent it from contaminating the siphoned beer because it can impair the flavour of the finished beer.
Once the beer has been siphoned into the bottling bucket, the OH and friend transferred the bucket onto the counter top and left it to settle. A primer was thrown in, and letting the beer settle ensures that any stuff floating around has a chance to settle at the bottom. This is a good opportunity to santise the bottles and eat dinner.
Sterilising is fundamental for getting good beer. We use Starsan which is a non rinse bleach type thing and use a ‘bottling’ tree to sterilise the bottles.
We also sterilise the bottle caps by covering them in boiling water.
Once the bottles and caps have been prepped, the process is fairly straightforward. We have an auto-shiphon which means that we can insert this into bottles, press the bottle filler to the bottom of the bottle for it to start filling and it will automatically stop once the bottle is pulled down. It’s best to fill the bottles to about 1″ from the top.
Continue to bottle until right near the dregs of the bucket. By this point, there is a lot of other sediment/crap in the beer so there isn’t much point in using it.
Finally, enjoy the horde of bottles that will bottle condition for the next couple of weeks!