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How I do bottling day.

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wfr42

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I thought I'd share some how I do bottling day to:
- help out the newer members.
- start a (bit of a) discussion.
- get some tips for myself.

Disclaimer this thread contains steps that work for me - I am not saying that they are right or wrong, just this is how I do it (as mentioned above, tips are welcome).


1. Cleaning bottles
This is probably the most important step, and the most monotonous.
When finishing a bottle I rinse it twice with hot water, checking I'm not leaving any sediment in the bottom. However I'm still collecting bottles from friends and store my bottles in the shed when empty so follow the below routine.
Other sanitise/sterilise bottles in their oven.
http://www.thehomebrewforum.co.uk/showthread.php?t=54300

I collect my bottles and fill my bottling bucket to about 20lites with a solution of vwp (I use about a tablespoon and half which is less than the instructions suggest). I drop my siphon, bottling wand, tub for crown caps etc in the bucket and then start filling the bottles from the bottling bucket.
20160404_084912_resized.jpg
I still use vwp (I like that it is a cleaner and sanitiser) but acknowledge it may slow this step down.
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I fill the bottles to about the neck and then scrub each one with a bottling brush, usually just enough to generate foam, and then empty out checking for any stubborn marks around the neck or at the base of the bottle. I try to leave a couple of litres in the bottling bucket and empty this while slowly rotating to clean the whole bottling bucket.
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Once "cleaned" I collect the bottles to onside of the sink, fill the bottling bucket with water and rinse the bottles using the tap and water in the bucket, again checking the bottles are as clean as possible.
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I find once I get into the production line mentality this goes quite quickly. I then transfer the bottles out to the shed on the bottling tree to drip dry, while I boil the kettle to mix up my priming solution (usually less than 200ml of boiling water and the required/given amount of sugar). Then, I count out the estimated number of caps (plus 4 or 5 extra) and put them in a tub collected from sanitising.

20160404_104841_resized.jpg

2. Filling the bottles/siphoning


I siphon from my FV (I only use a primary) onto my priming solution. I have not had any issues from "suck" starting my siphon, I do it with a tap that came with my starter kit so possibly that keeps the nasties in my mouth away from the beer.
Lucky find from my last bottling session -
I finally bought a siphon clip and my last brew was my first using my trug with an aquarium heater for temperature control.
I had lifted my FV and trug out to the shed at least the day before to cold crash. Leaving the water in the trug. I realised when I started siphoning that I fitted the clip back to front and I needed to keep a hand on the clip/siphon. However, and this is the lucky find IMO, siphoning from the FV in the water bath the FV started to float up as it emptied, so keeping a hand on the clip side, created a slow slope as the bucket emptied which the trub was slower to descend than my freshly fermented beer, giving me one of my clearest siphonings to date (looking forward to using this again with my next batch

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I then attach my bottling wand to my bottling bucket, it was all bought at different times, but I've found one my starter kit taps fit the bottling wand perfectly and give an extra control if I need to stop in a hurry. I tend to fill my sample jar for a final reading here (having given my FV 2-3weeks inside plus 24-48hrs cold crashing in the shed).
My last 9 or so bottles I have to fill by tipping the bucket :oops: so minimising the trub brought across when siphoning pays dividends here.
20160404_111026_resized.jpg
I tend to fill 9 bottles (I like the 3 by 3 symmetry) at a time and then cap these before continuing. I transfer a large handful of caps to a tub of water to rinse them (again starsan would speed this up).
20160404_111802_resized.jpg
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Then it's clean up time...with what ever volume was left in that final bottle :whistle:.
 

Robin54

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Very thorough and useful info.
I couldn't find an old thread about Oxi-Clean.. 1pound in Poundland
but got some and some old cruddy bottles came up sparkling
 

Chippy_Tea

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Great thread, the little bottler (bottling wand as discussed above) is one of the best bits of kit i have bought.
 

Robin54

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Great thread, the little bottler (bottling wand as discussed above) is one of the best bits of kit i have bought.
I need one of them magic wand things but I know it won't fit my tap:doh:
I will have to have a rummage in my anaesthetic room for various connectors and cobble something together
 

Dads_Ale

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wizurd

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Great write up. Just done my first bottling today and it's nearly identical to yours except I have no way to temp control my fv and I didn't cold crash the fv for a day or two before bottling. I may try that next time. Agree that a bottling wand makes it real easy. I too tipped my bottling bucket as it got to the bottom to get the last few bottles out but didn't notice it getting any worse from a clarity perspective.

Sent from my HTC Desire 510 using Tapatalk
 

wfr42

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I'm just making use of the cooler temperature of the shed.
I'm using an aquarium heater in a builder's trug to maintain 20 degrees although SWMBO has commented that the spare room isn't an extension of my brewing space (the shed apparently).
 

TartanSpecial

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good write-up. I went through a phase of just using starsan but got the occasional gusher...then realised one bottling day that a few of the bottles had specks of suspect material on the inside (beer I give to friends tends to come back with bottles not properly rinsed), so I have gone back to using vwp...though my routine is to do the tedious vwp washing and rinsing the day before bottling, then do a starsan wash with skooshy plunder thing plus bottling tree on bottling day.
 

wfr42

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Something I forgot. If using the kitchen/communal areas leave them cleaner than you found them...
 

brumbrew

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I haven't yet bought a bottling wand thingy. But its in on the list.

Very good post :-)
 

Robbo100

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I have a different method for starting the syphoning, which, notwithstanding you haven't lost a batch yet, is much lower risk.

Effectively, I have a small amount of tube (15 cm) attached to the end of the syphon stick (which is all setup in the FV ready to go). This small length of tube has a tap connected to it, which the other side of the tap connected to nothing.

I then get a second, far longer length of tube (1.5m or so) and fill it with water (I use tap, but you could used sterilised water if you felt the need). Holding both ends of the water-filled tube together (so the water doesn't flow out), I connect one end to the tap on the short piece of tube.

I then lower the free end of tube into a sterilised slops tray, and open up the tap at the top. The weight of the water induces a syphon and pulls the beer out. I then switch off the tap when the beer has reached the slops tray, and then move the end of the tube to the first bottle.
 

Notlaw

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My FVs haven't got taps on them. Can I use a bottling wand on the end of a siphoning hose?
 

Chippy_Tea

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My FVs haven't got taps on them. Can I use a bottling wand on the end of a siphoning hose?
I do. (see below)



I have a different method for starting the syphoning, which, notwithstanding you haven't lost a batch yet, is much lower risk.
I use a short piece of syphon tube attached to the main one with the small tap that came with the syphon, i sanitise this at the same time i sanitise all the other gear then use it to start the syphon, when wine starts to travel down the tube i lift the tap end above the bottom of the FV which stops the flow half way down the tube allowing me to remove the tap and fit my little bottler.
 

Robbo100

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I use a short piece of syphon tube attached to the main one with the small tap that came with the syphon, i sanitise this at the same time i sanitise all the other gear then use it to start the syphon, when wine starts to travel down the tube i lift the tap end above the bottom of the FV which stops the flow half way down the tube allowing me to remove the tap and fit my little bottler.
Yeah, but you are still adding risk buy putting your mouth within half a metre of your brew as far as I am concerned (even if you do detach the end of the tube). But, everyone does things differently, and if this work for you, then fair play.
 

Robbo100

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:-)

I used full breathing apparatus.

I was being tongue in cheek. :-)

What I mean, is that their are circumstances where there is risk introduced. For example, if the syphon failed and sucked back into the FV, it could suck some bacteria through the short tube and contaminate the main syphon tube.
 

wfr42

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Moral(s) of the story
- better safe than.
- do what works for you.

(I didn't know any better when I suck started my first batch and haven't had any problems to date, maybe I'm lucky with the selection of bacteria in my mouth).
 

Bigcol49

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Hi!
This is by no means an original idea, but it works. One t-piece and two taps are needed.
Close Tap A, open Tap B. Suck on the syphon until liquid passes tap B (if you use a long enough length of tubing the liquid gets nowhere near your mouth).
Close Tap B and open tap A and the syphon should flow freely into the bottling bucket.

Home Brew 1.jpg
 

chuffer

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Hi!
This is by no means an original idea, but it works. One t-piece and two taps are needed.
Close Tap A, open Tap B. Suck on the syphon until liquid passes tap B (if you use a long enough length of tubing the liquid gets nowhere near your mouth).
Close Tap B and open tap A and the syphon should flow freely into the bottling bucket.
Or you could just take tap B out of the equation....suck on an open Tap A until siphon fills up then quickly close the tap before liquid reaches mouth. Move tap over the to the bottling bucket and remove the tap completely and liquid will flow out of the hose without touching your contaminated tap
 

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