Failed - and hopefully saved - bottling day

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Nexus555

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Well last night was bottling night for the West Coast Pale Ale that I brewed 3 weeks ago. This was my first brew in 15 years. I prepped everything, was ready to start, and then ran into a plethora of problems:

1.) Back when I originally brewed this, I forgot to top off my fermenter with an extra gallon or so of water. I only had approximately 4 gallons of beer instead of 5.

2.) To begin, I boiled water for my priming sugar. Once it cooled a bit, I poured it in the bottling bucket. I almost had my wife pour the priming sugar water down the sink, because for a second I thought it was left over sanitizer. That was a close call!

3.) This recipe called for so many hops and even a dry hop at week 2. I read countless threads that it's easy to siphon in between the krausen and trub. Unfortunately for me, I could not see through my beer and it was very difficult to see where my siphon was at any given time. Since this is my first batch in 15 years, I was not familiar with the length of my siphon, so I eventually ended up with a lot of trash in my bottling bucket.

4.) The trash leads to my last problem. My bottling wand kept getting clogged, and even the spigot for the bottling bucket clogged a few times. After taking 5 minutes to fill one 22 oz bottle, I thought that the night was over and I would not be able to bottle the beer. Fortunately, I had a decent impromptu idea: I cut approximately 6'' of hose, sanitized it, and attached it directly to the spigot. I then put the hose all the way in a bottle and throttled the spigot until full.

Luckily, in the end, I bottled my batch. I am hoping there wasn't too much oxygen introduced by using the spigot and the hose, but I think it'll be fine. Sadly, there is a fair amount of sediment in each bottle.

Here's what I plan to change next time:

  • I bought an Anvil Fermenter, so I won't even need the auto siphon. Also, since it has a faucet at the bottom, I can position it to where little to no trub or krausen will enter the bottling bucket.
  • Also, since I have that fermenter, I can pour my wort through a colander to strain it. This will cut down on the trashy little hop leftovers that float.
  • I will stay away from beers with a lot of hops for now.
  • I will utilize a system in the future for dry hopping that will eliminate additional trash. Nylon mesh bag and a string, magnet delivery, etc. Anything but putting them directly in the fermenter.
  • I plan on getting a larger bottling wand.
  • Once fermentation is complete, I can transfer the Anvil fermenter into the kitchen a few days or so before bottling. This will reduce the amount of debris that is stirred up from carrying it on bottling night.
Well, that's about it! The beer finished at 4.59% alcohol content and I am excited to drink it. I tasted a sample from the hydrometer tube, and it seems like it will taste well. I'm glad all of this happened as I have a good idea what to expect next time.
 

RM-MN

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Hop particles are a problem. I wrap a piece of paint strainer bag over the inlet of the autosiphon and hold it in place with a rubber band. That helps but I would still clog up the paint strainer so I made a wire spiral to put inside the bag to hold it away from the opening of the autosiphon. Whole leaf hops don't have so many loose particles to deal with.

Just a couple hours of sitting lets the stirred up trub settle pretty well. I probably doesn't need to sit on the table for days. If you get some trub in the bottling bucket, letting it set for half an hour with a lid to keep things from falling into it will let most stirred up trub settle and only the last few bottles will give you trouble.

As long as you aren't doing six other things while siphoning the beer, you can make a mark on the outside of the siphon so it shows where the siphon is drawing from and keep it between the surface and the trub.
 

Miraculix

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I boil a hop bag shortly and then dry hop in the bag. A few marbles or stones inside, to keep it submerged.
 
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Nexus555

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It's only been a week but I thought I'd try one after the horrible bottling night. The West Coast IPA is already very well carbonated and super delicious! Super satisfying!
 

RM-MN

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With another couple of weeks that beer should clear up and produce a better head. Sampling along the way is a good idea as it tells you a lot about why we recommend at least a 3 week from bottling maturing time. Darker and higher alcohol beers benefit from more time yet.
 
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Nexus555

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With another couple of weeks that beer should clear up and produce a better head. Sampling along the way is a good idea as it tells you a lot about why we recommend at least a 3 week from bottling maturing time. Darker and higher alcohol beers benefit from more time yet.
Yep. Plan on having a tasting party in 2 weeks. Should be excellent by then.
 
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