And now for the final post in the homebrew series:
One Week Later…
After a week of bubbling activity, and trying to peer through the translucent bucket lid to see what’s going on – your beer should have completely fermented. You can either set yourself up for bottling now, or if you want your beer to age you can put it into a sterile glass carboy, what is known as secondary fermentation.
Note: You can probably leave it in the bottling bucket for another week but the only beer that I brewed that turned out poorly was the one I left in primary fermentation for approximately two weeks.
If you want to get straight to bottling, you can skip the next couple of paragraphs. If you’re opting to go for the secondary fermentation route, use your auto-siphon to put the beer into the carboy and be careful not to suck the dead yeast and proteins (known as the trub) from the bottom of the bucket into your carboy. Once it is added you can, if you like, add other flavourings; such as more hops, fruit or spices if you are feeling adventurous (I wouldn’t recommend this for your first attempt though).
Close the carboy off with a rubber stopper and an airlock, and store in a cool, dry place. You can leave it as long as you like really. Especially with darker beers, they really benefit from a lengthy storage period.
Before you bottle your beer you will want to take another gravity measurement. Mine was 1014. I was hoping for a number in and around 1008 but using the equation ((OG-FG)/7.46)+0.5=ABV (Alcohol by Volume), I managed to get an ABV of 5.06; fairly standard for beer.
When you decide to bottle your beer you will want to prime it. Priming beer is adding sugar to some sterilized water and then adding it to your batch of beer. Boil 3/4 cup of water, add 120g of sugar, and let it cool. Assuming you opted for secondary fermentation, you will need to siphon your beer (sans trub) into your fermentation bucket again (assuming it has a tap at the bottom like mine) and mix the sugar water with the beer. Let it sit for 20 minutes to a half hour. Now you are ready to bottle! Into clean, sanitized bottles!
Attach a bottling tube to the tap in the fermentation bucket to bottle the beer efficiently and with few spills. Your bottling tub should come with instructions, so follow the relevant instructions for your model. Then bottle and cap them (I use an Emily Capper, but there are easier – more high tech – more expensive options). Try and convince a friend to help for the sake of efficiency.
After a week – or just to be safe – two weeks, your beer should have carbonated and it will be ready to drink!
Yes, the process can be long but it’s worth it. There’s nothing quite like drinking a beer you’ve made. The beer I made was light amber in colour and tasted like a traditional ale. Not particularly bitter but slightly spicy because of the hops. Hope yours turns out just as well, or better!