Bottling

Having made your home-brew you then come to the satisfying job of bottling it.

Should it be bottles, or tap-jars? One four-gallon tap-jar takes no longer to clean and sterilise than one bottle. It allows you to draw off your beer in half-pints, and that is useful when brewing strong. But the drink will be "draught" in character, however lively it may be, since all the gas is spent immediately in forming the head. A truly sparkling drink can only be made in screw-top bottles.

Apart from looking good, and lightening a heavy brew, the sparkle sends the alcohol to your head quicker. And a bottled drink will clear sooner, since the yeast has not so far to fall. But the labour of cleaning and sterilising is multiplied thirty-fold. It is a matter of choice.

This is the quickest way of cleaning: prepare a stock solution of potassium metabisulphite, by dissolving H lb. in a quart of hot water. Keep it handy in a stoppered flagon. Take all the stoppers out of your bottles, and set aside those with perished washers. Take off these washers. Stretch the new washers over the ends of all the stoppers. Then take each one in turn and insert a spike (say the outside prong of an old fork) between the washer and the stopper. Then, by turning the stopper round and round, the washer can be worked down to its proper place.

Next take the bottles. Rinse each under the cold tap, emptying the water out by holding upside down and swirling round with a vigorous rotary movement. This forms a whirlpool inside, which allows the air to get in and the water to fly out. Take a jug and in it mix two ounces of your stock sulphite solution in a pint of water. Pour this sterilizing mixture through a polythene funnel from one bottle to the next. From the last bottle, pour it back into the jug, and drop all the stoppers in. Next give the stoppers and each bottle a quick rinse under the tap to remove any traces of sulphite.

Keep the remains of the sulphite solution handy for sterilizing the siphon before and after use. You will find the whole job is made much easier by fitting to the cold tap a length of hose-pipe equipped with a lever-spray nozzle. The bottles are now ready to fill.

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