First Bottling Day!

 

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Today was our first bottling day! Luckily, we purchased a really fantastic autosiphon from Adventures in Home Brewing, our new favorite store. The employees are the best, just so friendly and helpful. The auto siphon changed EVERYTHING, our experience was so much easier!

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(I really like that the directive for #5)

For the first half-hour or so of bottling day was all about cleaning and sanitizing, which is apparently pretty typical. I scrubbed off the labels of our used bottles (Oberon was the best, so much easier to get off for whatever reason, luckily we’ve been drinking a lot of it!) first by soaking with vinegar, peeling with a sponge, scrubbing with olive oil to get off the stickiness and then washing with dish soap. Syd’s job was to sanitize everything; the bottles, auto siphon, tubing, bottle filler, etc.

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Things got a bit bubbly when we started cleaning! Star San is the best because we just had to dip in the equipment and let it dry, no scrubbing or fuss.

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Of course we had to reward ourselves for all that cleaning by drinking some Founder’s Centennial IPA while we worked.

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(Selfie with the carboy)

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So obsessed with our auto siphon. This was our slightly wonky DIY set up in our messy college house kitchen. Syd was doing the hard work of pumping the top while I filled the second fermenter…

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…(just our boiling pot with the dissolved priming sugar) and then filled the bottles.

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Trying to avoid that sediment! Halfway done with the transfer at this point.

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Our favorite part was using the bottle capper! So much fun.

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I look so hardcore in this action shot.

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We ended up with nine 22oz bottles and twenty-nine 12oz bottles, after the spring fell out of the tip of the bottle filler fell out in two of the 12oz bottles and we didn’t get all of the wort out of the carboy because we were concerned about picking up sediment. I think it went really well! Plus we finished just in time to watch Game of Thrones, which is obviously very important. We might try making some mead before the season finale next week, any tips?

And a big thanks to benner42, Brian and everyone else who has sent us their support! We love all of your likes and comments, it’s so encouraging for new brewers. We’re going to post a reaction video of us trying our beer for the first time on June 29th when I get back from vacation and before Sydney goes to Geology camp. So stay tuned!

Your First Time is Always a Bit Messy…

Yesterday we had our first brew! The last of my supply packages from Amazon had arrived and we drove to Adventures in Homebrewing to pick up ingredients. The staff there was super friendly when I explained that this was our first time and suggested we try an Ingredient Kit from Brewer’s Best, since they included measured out ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions. Luckily, they had a whole shelf full of kits to choose from and they were ranked based on difficulty level. We chose their Summer Ale, which seemed appropriate given the hot Ann Arbor day!

The most-repeated tip we had gotten from more experienced brewers and brew blogs was to make sure to completely clean and sanitize all the equipment before brewing. We used Star San and did our best to clean the kitchen (that we share with our four other housemates) and keep our two kittens away. I had purchased everything on the BeerSmith How to Brew Beer list off of Amazon, so it didn’t come all together in one kit but ended up costing me a little bit less. Following the instructions included in the ingredient kit, we steeped the grain, boiled the wort, and added the liquid and dried malt extract. This was all fairly simple, since the packets of ingredients were measured perfectly.

Big pot on our tiny stove.

Big pot on our tiny stove.

Steeping grains.

Steeping grains.

Heating up...

Heating up…

Nice, cool bath.

Nice, cool bath.

At this point, we realized neither of us were quite sure how to siphon the liquid from the pot to the glass carboy. We tried youtube tutorials and the BeerSmith website, but all of them simply glossed over the specifics of siphoning. Is this common knowledge? Does everyone naturally know how to siphon? We even tried siphoning Star San solution through a practice tube with our mouths (pro tip: Star San tastes awful, but at least it hasn’t killed us yet?) Eventually, after adding the hops, boiling some more, and cooling in an ice-filled sink, we ended up sanitizing a large measuring cup and scooping the liquid and pouring it into the carboy. I don’t think this was necessarily the best, most sanitized way to transfer, but we didn’t have many options at that point. Hopefully the beer won’t get infected!

Doing our best

Doing our best

We added the water and yeast, but in a carboy it was a bit hard to stir. We’ve been getting some help on our siphoning technique so that by the time we end up bottling (the instructions say 4-6 days, which seems early according to various brew blogs but we’re going to monitor the CO2 bubbles in the airlock) we don’t run into the same problem.

After hours sweating in the kitchen, we were ready for something cold and easy!

After hours sweating in the kitchen, we were ready for something cold and easy!

At the end, we were exhausted and sweaty, so we laid on the couch with some cheap frozen margaritas to celebrate surviving our first brew.

New to the Brew

Best friends at Arbor Brewing Company

We’ve decided to start a blog to keep track of our progress, experiences, thoughts and ideas as we start home brewing. Even though we love to drink it, neither of us have any serious history with beer so we’re complete newbies. Wish us luck, read our blog, and maybe -someday- drink our beer!

– Katie & Sydney