Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bottling day

You might recall that Tom and I recently embarked on a home-brewing experiment, thanks to the holiday gift of a starter kit he got from my mom and sister.

Well, today was bottling day.

This required boiling a little more than half a cup of sugar in some water, putting that in the bottling bucket, and then siphoning the fermented beer into the bottling bucket.  Remarkably, when we took the lid off the fermenting bucket, it actually smelled!  So far, we don't seem to have screwed things up.

The beer, after being siphoned into the bottling container.

--and the icky sludge left over at the bottom of the fermenting container.

Bottles in sanitizing solution, waiting to be filled.

It took us awhile to get the hang of filling the bottles, especially shutting off the valve in time and moving the siphon from one bottle to the next without making a mess.  Well, without making a huge mess.  I'm pretty sure that beer bottling is going to be messy no matter what.  Here are some highlights (?) of the process:

It did get easier, fortunately.

This has been a really difficult and depressing week for both of us--the kind where excruciating, seemingly endless minutes alternate with long stretches of numbness.  An ice storm last night prevented us from getting out of town today, or even out of the house, for a change of scenery.  So what else to do but finally get around to the bottling?

Strangely, it proved to be an ideal activity for the moment.  Bottling is the kind of task that is both mindless and deeply absorbing, and eventually it becomes so mechanical it takes on a kind of Zen-like, meditative quality.  I was almost sorry when it was over.  In the end, we had 46 bottles of beer ready to put up.

The beer has to condition in the bottles for two weeks before it'll be drinkable.  That gives us something to look forward to in a couple of weeks, and with any luck, will also give us a sense of being rewarded for our hard work.  At the moment, I'm deeply grateful for those simple gifts.


Beth said...

Now you need to design your own label!

Rosemary said...

Beth, my sister found a
website where you can create one. That's the next stop!

Catherine @ Frugal Homemaker Plus said...

This sounds fun! I can't wait to hear the results of the taste test.

Historiann said...

I'm very sorry to hear that last week was a bad week for both of you. But: beer! In just a little more than a week now!

Christy said...

You deserve nothing less than something delicious. Here's to indulgence, long overdue.

pilypas said...

You know in times of excruciation extremis you can drink that stuff before the carbonation is done. It's alcoholic right now!

Rosemary said...

Hmmm...hadn't thought about that, Phillip--and of course, it might be more like good, unfizzy English beer right now. We're planning to break open a few bottles on Friday night, so I'll try to delay gratification for another 48 hours, anyway.

And "excruciation extremis": yes. That's it exactly. Thank you. FYI, I've also found my wonderful new Aeropress coffee maker to be a great hedge against excruciation extremis, particularly of the mid-afternoon variety. :^)