Beer School

Weekend Assignment: Bottle Your Homebrewed Beer

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)
(Image credit: Henry Chen)
  • Today’s topic: Bottle your beer
  • The Kitchn’s Beer School: 20 lessons, 7 assignments to brew your first 1-gallon batch of beer.
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In the past three weeks, your homebrew has gone from raw grains to sugary wort to actual beer — all that’s left to do is bottle it up. Let’s get to it!

(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)

Knowing When to Bottle Your Beer

Three weeks is about the minimum amount of time you want to allow between brewing and bottling — this gives the beer plenty of time to finish fermenting and for solid bits to fall to the bottom of the fermenter. If bottled early, you often wind up with hazy beer or beer that tastes a little unfinished or “green.” You also run the risk bursting bottles from beer that hasn’t fully finished fermenting. Bottling a few days early is generally fine, but I’d be wary of pushing it much sooner than that.

This said, it’s fine if you don’t get around to bottling your beer right at the three-week mark! As long as there is water in the airlock, your beer can hang out for up to three months, generally improving in flavor and becoming even clearer as the time passes. Beer tends to reward patience (or laziness, as it were).

If your beer has been sitting for longer than three months, it’s still fine to bottle, but you’ll want to add an extra dose of yeast along with the priming sugar when you bottle. This guarantees that there’s some viable yeast in the brew to carbonate your beer in the bottle.

(Image credit: Melissa Ryan)
(Image credit: Henry Chen)

Bottling Your Beer: Let’s Recap!

To bottle your beer, you’ll need your jug of beer, your fermentation bucket or stockpot, measuring cups, autosiphon (or racking cane), tubing, hose clamp, bottle filler, 10 (12-ounce) bottles, 10 bottle caps, and your bottle capper. Don’t forget to sanitize everything before you start.

See the Step-by-Step Instructions: How To Bottle Beer at Home

Mix your priming sugar into the beer (this is how beer becomes carbonated) and then siphon it into bottles. Cap the bottles, label them, then stash them in a cupboard or box somewhere out of the way.

Now Wait Two More Weeks

Yes, two more weeks! During this time, the yeast in the beer will eat up that last dose of sugar and carbonate the beer. The beer will also go through a bit of bottle shock, which can make it taste oddly muted or unbalanced for a little while. You need to give the beer some time to settle down before drinking it.

Starting a Brewing Pipeline

As you’ve probably noticed, there’s a lot of waiting time involved in brewing a batch of beer! If you liked this first brewing project, I highly recommend getting a brewing pipeline going — meaning, start a new batch of beer brewing every few weeks. That way, you always have something to do — or drink! — during these waiting periods.

Brew Better Beer: A Companion to Beer School

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

I love brewing beer so much, I wrote a book about it! Brew Better Beer (May 2015, Ten Speed Press) is a complementary guide to Beer School. Take a look for even more nerdy details about homebrewing, how to brew 5-gallon batches, and plenty of recipes for different beers.

→ Find it: Brew Better Beer by Emma Christensen

With The Kitchn’s Beer School, we’ll teach you how to brew your own beer at home — and brew it with confidence. In 20 lessons and 7 weekend assignments, we’ll get you set up with your own home brewery, walk you through your first brew day, show you how to bottle your beer, and then toast you on your first pint. Ready to brew your first beer? Join us!