Building a Winter Warmer #4

It’s nearly over. After weeks of waiting, what was started is now ready to be bottled.

adding sugar to beer

First, I boil two cups of water and 3/4 cup sugar for about five minutes. This is priming sugar and is added to the beer in order to wake up the yeast that have gone dormant, having eaten all the fermentable sugars. It’s recently come to my attention that a different ratio of water/sugar might be advisable for different beers, so I might have to look into that-most of the time corn sugar is suggested for bottling but I’ve been using regular white sugar and it’s been working out fine.

Once the priming sugar (which I’m told is just a simple syrup) has cooled down I add it to the beer and wait. I want to give the syrup enough time to disapate in the beer and I don’t want to agitate the sediment at the bottom, so I usually wait as long as I can; in this case I think I left the beer alone for over an hour.

bottling toolsAfter that, I move to bottling. This photo shows the syphon, hydrometer and bottlecaps all used for this process. First I get a hydrometer reading so I can see how the beer has changed. The final gravity reading was 1.022, and through the use of handy beer calculators on the internet I know that my Alcohol by Volume (ABV) is about 5.97%.

bottlingAfter this it’s time to start bottling the beer, so I do just that. The syphon is a gravity one, so the bottles are all placed lower than the beer, and through the Magic of Science!, the beer goes into the bottles. I have to carefully regulate how fast the liquid goes into the bottles, because it comes out very quickly and if I don’t, I get more foam then beer.

As I bottle, I put bottlecaps on the filled beers. This is done to keep things from getting into the bottle before I cap them, but I’ve also been told that doing this allows the oxygen at the top of the bottle to be forced out by the tiny amounts of carbon dioxide being generated. Now I don’t know if this is true or not; the carbonation taking place may not even come close to generating enough pressure to push the oxygen out. Maybe it’s all about keeping foreign materials out while I fill other bottles.

What I can tell you is; this process is working for me. And, like a streak in baseball, you don’t fuck with your process so long as it’s working.

After all the bottles are filled, I then crimp the bottlecaps on with this device: bottle crimper Finally, I clean up. I don’t think anybody needs pictures of that.

So that’s it; I’m all done except for carbonating the beer, which ought to take about a week or so. Fortunately, I have a few beers to drink in the meantime so the Winter Warmer can sit and wait. I consider this a good thing, because while bottling I got very strong scents of cinnamon. While I do want the spices to be there, I’d prefer if they weren’t overpowering the drink itself. However, because I’ve had trouble detecting the additives in my beer so I pushed it. Maybe too far-but I won’t know for at least another week.

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