How to Brew Beer – 5 Steps for Making Beer at Home – Part 3

by Brad Smith on January 25, 2009 · 13 comments

pour-beer-webToday we present part three of our guide on making beer at home. In the last two articles we described steps one and two including the basic equipment required to make beer at home, and the brewing process. In the final article of the series, we will walk through bottling, aging and drinking your first homemade beer.

Step 3 – Priming and Bottling

The final step before bottling your beer is called priming. Priming consists of mixing sugar in with the beer to carbonate the finished beer. The priming sugar will ferment and carbonate your beer.

Before you can prime and bottle, you again need to sterilize everything the beer will touch. Though your beer has fermented out, it still can be ruined by bacteria or by adding too much oxygen to it (i.e. don’t splash it around). Most brewers use a large plastic bucket or carboy to make it easy to mix the priming sugar in evenly. Sterilize the bucket thoroughly, and also sterilize your siphoning equipment, tools and of course your bottles.

Make sure your bottles are clean and free of debris before sterilizing – use a bottle brush to remove any deposits. Some people sterilize bottles by soaking them in a weak bleach solution and then rinsing well. I’ve also had some success with washing my bottles in the dishwasher, but you need to run it several times with no soap and hot water to avoid leaving a soap residue that will ruin the head retention on your beer.

Siphon the finished beer into your priming bucket, trying very hard not to splash it around or mix any air in with it. Add 2/3 cup of priming sugar (I recommend corn sugar) to your beer and very gently mix it in. Next siphon the beer into your bottles using your bottle filler. Be sure to leave at least an inch or more of empty space at the top of your bottle to aid in fermentation. Put the caps on each bottle as you go and use your bottle capper to secure them.

Step 4 – Aging

The most difficult part is waiting for your beer to come of age. While beers are drinkable after a few weeks, the average homebrew reaches peak flavor anywhere from 8 weeks to 15 weeks after brewing. Most homebrewers can’t wait this long. During the aging process your beer will carbonate and excess yeast, tannins and proteins that create off flavors will fall out of your beer and settle to the bottom of the bottle. This will substantially improve your beer. I personally recommend waiting about 3-4 weeks after bottling before sampling your first brew.

Store your bottles in a cool, dark place. Unless you are brewing a lager under temperature controlled conditions, do not store your beer in the refrigerator for the first two weeks after bottling. Give it two weeks to fully carbonate at room temperature. After the first two weeks, refrigerating the beer will help it improve more quickly because the tannins, yeast and protein will sediment faster at cold temperature.

Step 5 – Drinking

The blessed day has finally arrived to sample your creation. During the aging process excess yeast, tannins and proteins will leave sediment at bottom of your bottle. Get a clean glass, open your brew, and gently poor most of your beer into the glass leaving only the sediment and a small amount of beer in your bottle. Don’t worry if you take a little sediment into the glass – it won’t hurt you. Smell the fresh beer, admire the frothy head, and then sip (don’t guzzle) your first homebrew.

Hopefully this series will help many beginning brewers to get started with homebrewing. If you missed the earlier sections, here is part 1 and part 2 of how to brew your own beer at home.

Thank you for your continued support of the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. If you have enjoyed this series of articles, consider subscribing to our blog for weekly email or RSS delivery. In the meantime, sit back, have a homebrew, and enjoy!

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Rathna January 27, 2009 at 9:09 pm

My husband is crazy with beer, he drinks atleast 2 tins per day. I read your other parts regarding the Steps for Making Beer at Home.If I can make out in my home with the help of these article I am sure I can make my husband very happy!! sure i will make a try.

Chipper Dave Butler February 3, 2009 at 12:33 pm

During a recent bottling session, I started off by putting in my priming sugar solution in the bottom of an empty bottling bucket. I then siphoned in the beer from my fermenter using an auto-siphon and plastic tube. One thing I forgot to do once all of the beer was siphoned into the bottling bucket was to gently stir the beer. Do you think that the beer will still carbonate ok if I forgot to stir the beer to mix the priming sugar in? Will some of the bottles be flat and others over carbonated? Not sure what I’m going to get.

Brad Smith February 3, 2009 at 4:41 pm

If you put the sugar in first, very likely it will be fine as the siphoning will tend to mix things up as the beer is added. Likely you will have some variation, but I expect your carbonation to be pretty good overall.

jeanguyd March 6, 2009 at 8:44 pm

I am new to beer making and I noticed that my primary fermenter (open pail) has a lid, but does not have an airlock. Is this normal? I have read that other people have an airlock on them. I bought a beer and wine making kit from the company RJ Spagnols.

Now my carboy (glass) has an airlock which is fine.

Any help would be greatly appreiated.

Thank you.

Brad Smith March 8, 2009 at 10:15 am

You should have a hold in the pail lid to add your airlock, usually with a stopper.

mith August 8, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Hello , i saw some bubbles coming from the carboy ( plastic one) for few days and it stopped,does that mean my beer is ready to be bottled??Usually my room was hot during the day ; I never maintain the temperature.

Brad Smith August 9, 2011 at 2:45 pm

If the bubbles are slowing it usually means fermentation is slowing down. If you have a hydrometer, you can monitor the final gravity to see if fermentation is complete before bottling.


Bob Sewell January 28, 2013 at 8:43 pm

i have been having a problem recently in that my beer doesn’t seem to carbonate properly and it has a “wine”ee taste. this really has me baffled. any idea’s? i add the yeast to the primary when the wort chills to like 70 degree’s and it sits in both primary and secondary at around 68 degrees.

PetrP February 17, 2013 at 3:42 am

what does the mean corn sugar? Is the dextrose monohydrate ?

David July 17, 2013 at 11:23 am

Hi Brad
I’m a first time brewer . My beer is at day 14 of the
Primary fermentation stage in a carboy with an airlock.
I’ve read that this stage is complete once the bubbles stop
bubbling out of the airlock
At 0nce every 1-2 minutes…
My beer is still bubbling once every 30 seconds…. Do
I wait longer until the bubbling slows to that
Recommended interval ? Should I check the specific gravity
I’ve read I can prime my bottles with sugar before adding beer skipping
The secondary bucket stage….
What’s your advice please?
Thanks very much for your time.

Vikki Mcinturf July 23, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Sie haben große Wahrnehmung, und ich werde auf jeden Fall das Lesen Ihrer anderen Blogs!

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