Bottling Our First Homebrew

My husband and I are big craft beer people, and we’ve been itching to try our hand at homebrew for quite some time. Now that we have our own house, a bigger kitchen, and more space to store everything, we figured it would be a good time to get serious about all our talk.

Last month during one of my frequent lunch-break trips to the thrift store, I happened upon a brew-your-own-IPA kit for $5. Everything was new and sealed in the box, so I snatched it up knowing a complete kit was a steal and would give us the push to finally get started brewing.

The process itself was pretty simple, and we had everything we needed in our kitchen already. Most of the afternoon was spent over the stove in the kitchen making sure the mash stayed at the right temperature. I was able to share some of my fermentation knowledge gleaned from maintaining my sourdough starter, which my husband found interesting, I think. (He might have been humoring me…)

After two weeks of fermenting, it was finally time to bottle!

As most people in my life are aware, I hate buying anything new. I try as much as possible to find what I need secondhand, and bottles for our homebrew were no different. I was able to find swing-top bottles fairly cheap at a few different thrift stores, ranging from 75 cents to 1.99. They’re larger than a standard beer bottle, probably around 22 oz., but we like to drink the “big boys” so it’s not a big deal.

When it came time to fill the bottles, we let gravity do most of the work. The instructional video on the web page for our kit made it look pretty easy, but this worked much better for us. Now we wait two more weeks… again.

And hopefully it won’t be flat — we realized we left too much headspace in the bottles. You’d think someone who regularly cans would realize this, but, hey, it was our first time and some mistakes were bound to happen.

It sure looks pretty, though, doesn’t it? I just had to sneak it out of the “fermentation cupboard” (aka the seldom-used laundry room cupboard) for a picture.

Some things I would do differently next time include:

  • Leave a little less headspace
  • Use cheesecloth inside the strainer to catch any super-fine sediment
  • Use a bleach-water solution to sanitize everything instead of frantically searching everywhere for a powdered sanitizer

In the meantime, I’m flipping through these two brewing books I got for Christmas, trying to decide what to make next. I’m thinking a blackberry mead, maybe. Have any favorite recipes? I’d love to hear!