Fermenting and Bottling

27 January 2019

You will end up googling “is my beer infected?”…. It probably isn’t!

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  • Last I left you, you had put your fermentor an wort in a cool dark place.
  • Within 24-28 hours you will start to see bubbles rising to the surface of your beer.
    • These are from yeast eating the sugars you made, and producing alcohol and CO2 as waste
    • If you have sealed everything correctly, your airlock should now be bubbling!
  • Shortly after things start bubbling you will get krausen- a foamy, somewhat gross head on the top of the fermentor
    • This layer is mostly normal. As long as it looks like bubbly light foam, you are in good shape. Overly slimy, or ‘hard’ is a problem.
  • If you have an opaque fermentor, resist the urge to open and look inside, that will only increase possibility of infection

Knowing when fermenting is done

  • The most accurate way to determine if fermentation is done is to take a hydrometer reading. This measures the amount of sugar in the beer. The same reading two days apart means the yeast has consumed all the available sugars and you are ready to bottle.
  • Without measuring, beer is usually done after 2-3 weeks.
  • Even if your airlock stops bubbling, give it a couple days for the yeast to ‘clean up’ its byproducts.

Preparing to bottle

  • Collect enough bottles that can hold pressure of fermentation. This calculator can help make sure you have enough capacity to bottle everything you need.
  • You can save commercial long neck bottles for reuse. Make sure they are pry-off caps- Twist off caps will not work in this situation!
    • Rinsing bottles shortly after consuming will become second nature so make sure the bottles are clean before they are sanitized
  • Brown glass is better for preserving beer, avoid clear or green glass if possible.
  • You can also buy bottles
    • Larger (16 oz, 32 oz) swing-top bottles are fewer bottles to wrangle when bottling. Getting the rubber gasket to seat properly can be some work


  • Sanitize
    • Bottles and bottle caps
    • Siphon system and bottling wand
    • Bottling bucket
  • Decide how you are going to prime your beer
    • Priming sugar gives the yeast the resources to make CO2 that will carbonate your beer
    • Choose between carbonation drops, or batch priming
  • Carbonation drops are pre-measured ‘lozenges’ of sugar that you drop into the bottle before adding your beer. No more instructions, its that easy! Only down side is that it is pricier than batch priming.
  • Batch priming involves adding a sugar of your choice to the entire batch, then bottling

Adding Priming sugar to whole batch

  • Calculate how much priming sugar you needed here
  • Using siphon, transfer beer to a sanitized bottling bucket. Leave as much of the trub (the gross dead yeast, hop particulates and proteins) in the fermentor as you can.
  • Dissolve your priming sugar in a little bit of boiling water, and add to the bottling bucket, stirring gently with a sanitized spoon to distribute.
  • Bottle and cap better

Waiting for carbonation

  • Wait another 2-3 weeks for bottles to naturally carbonate before opening
  • The cooler the temperature, the longer it will take to naturally ferment
  • If your beer gushes or foams over when you open it- putting it in the fridge should stop it from getting any more

Enjoying homebrew

  • Bottled homebrew will have yeast/sediment in the bottom, try not to jostle the bottle too much before pouring
  • Pour your beer gently into your glass, keeping an eye on the sediment in the bottom
  • Stop pouring before the sediment flows into your glass. This may mean leaving a little bit of beer in the bottles