After a little lunch thing at the nursing home with my mom's family today, we headed over to Aaron's brewery, Bootlegger's, to help with some bottling. His batch of Amber Ale was ready. It's actually an Altbier (will most likely be named simply Alt) and is my favorite of his beers so far. He's still waiting on the labels, they aren't ready yet, but it needed to be bottled up, and we were there to help.
I'd never bottled anything before, and was somewhat curious about the process. From what I understand, bottling machines are pretty expensive, so we would be doing it by hand. So for those of you who are curious, this is the process:
First we wash the bottles with water and sanitizer. There's this nifty little contraption that you press the inverted bottle onto so that it shoots water/sanitizer up into the bottle. Then you hang the bottle upside down so that it dries out. Once the bottles are dry, we put them onto the table and inserted this tube that is hooked up to the vat the beer is in. The tube has a special tip on it that allows beer through only when it is pressed down, so you insert the tube into the bottle, and press down until the bottle is full of beer (no foam, so you overflow it until there isn't any foam left). The next person uses this contraption that crimpes the bottlecap onto the bottle. Then dry off the bottle. If the labels were ready, this is when we'd put them on, but alas, not this time.
Unfortunately it's a rather slow process. It was hot too - 101° outside. We periodically just climbed into the cold storage room just to cool off. Bobby, Emma, and I helped for around three hours, but we still only got about 1/3 of the beer bottled. Aaron posted a message on Bootlegger's Twitter feed at 10:28 last night saying they'd just finished. Like I said, a slow process.