Since I started using corny kegs bottling has become a rare occurrence and it’s both good and bad. Good on the note that I can transfer my Pale Ales straight from primary after three weeks and be drinking them the same day. The sad part is that I can’t just pick up a six pack and take it with me to a friends house.
The pros and cons are many but I think everyone who uses kegs also sometimes miss bottles.
I’m very new to brewing beer with brettanomyces and for now I’m choosing not to use my kegs for the brett due to the risk of contamination so I’m bottling instead. So yesterday I got to it and sanitized a bunch of bottles and read up on priming techniques, seriously – one forgets, and after about four hours I was done. I also transfered my Vienna Lager Style Mexican Stand Off into a keg during this time…but that took only 30 minutes.
The important thing to remember when bottling a beer with brettanomyces is that the brett will keep fermenting sugars saccharomyces wont. So be sure to bottle when the beer is somewhat stable. I’ve left this batch in the fermenter for about three months to make sure it has done most of it’s work. You probably don’t have to leave it that long but you have to take gravity readings regularly to make sure it doesn’t go bananas on you whilst in the bottle.
I used the same amount of priming sugar I would use for a beer fermented with saccharomyces since I’m using a simple sugar (beet) which is someting that both yeast species can consume. But I would not aim for the upper levels of carbonation since there’s still some more complex sugars left in the beer that the brett will slowly consume. (for calculating the amount of priming sugar I used the calculator at the following link – http://www.tastybrew.com/calculators/priming.html)
Another thing to keep in mind is the thickness of your bottles. Since the possibility of very high carbonation levels is higher in brett beers, say that the brett is consuming more sugar than expected, you have to use bottles that can hold the pressure.
One way bottles are usually very thin and are not made for holding the high pressure of say belgian style beers The safest way to go is using champagne bottles or the belgian style bottles (as seen in the picture to the right. As with champagne bottles the belgian bottles are sealed with a cork. There are different verities of cork ranging from plastic, plastic based cork substitutes and real cork. After the champagne cork is put in place by hand force or a corker you use an agraffe to keep it there whilst the pressure builds.
If you’re not using champagne bottles or similar bottles you’re best of with a thick deposit/refund bottle. That is partly what I used since I only had a few champagne bottles.
Other than the carbonation the bottling process was no different. I used a bottling bucket with a sugar solution for priming and a bottling wand placed in a piece of tube. Nothing out of the ordinary.
The recipe for this beer can be seen in an earlier post at: http://www.beernakedblog.com/brews/every-stingy-farmhouse-police-you-smell/
I will come back with some tasting notes when the beer is carbonated along with a review on the carbonation procedure. The interesting thing about this batch is that the brettanomyces will keep on working in the bottles and create new flavors. And that will make for a couple of good blog posts.