Adventures of a Beginning Home Brewer
The Christmas Beer Miracle and the Gift of Easier Bottling
To me, the most tedious part of brewing is bottling. You have to sanitize bottles, the bottling bucket, all its parts, the siphon, the caps… And that is just the first step. Then you have to boil the priming sugar, rack the beer, fill the bottles, and cap each one of them individually.
The boil process in the beginning takes a bit longer, but that is inactive time while the stove does the work. In bottling it is all you, all the time. But there is some hope. You can make the process go by a bit faster. The trick? It’s all in the bottles.
When I made my first beer, my Ragin’ Red, I stupidly sanitized, filled, and capped 48 12 oz. beer bottles. It took forever! I did the same thing for my second beer. Then came the Christmas Beer Miracle and my home brewing life was changed forever.
When I brewed my first Merry Cherry Christmas Stout I had an idea. I wanted to have a beer with all of my friends and family for Christmas. Obviously this is impossible with the hustle and bustle of the holidays. My solution was to give everyone a Merry Cherry Christmas Stout that we would all crack open at exactly 5:00 pm CST on Christmas day so that no matter the distance between us, we would all have a beer together for Christmas. This is known in my circle as the Christmas Beer Miracle!
I decided it would be a nice touch to use 22 oz bottles so that everyone could not only have a beer together no matter where we all were, but also everyone could share the Christmas Beer Miracle with someone special they were actually spending the holidays with in person. That is when I realized the math.
(22 oz Merry Cherry Christmas Stout bottle vs 12 oz Ragin’ Red Ale bottle)
Here is the deal; bottles come in all shapes and sizes. You can sanitize, fill, and cap about 48 12 oz. bottles, about 24 22 oz. bottles, or heck, you could even just fill a few half gallon jugs I suppose. I use nothing but 22 oz. bottles now. I basically cut my bottling work in half by only needing to sanitize, fill, and cap half as many bottles!
One quick tip: I have noticed that sometimes the bigger bottles may need a little extra bottle conditioning time to get the desired amount of carbonation. But we are just talking a couple days if it is needed.
Let’s face it; if your beer is tasty there is no one who will complain about their bottle having an extra 10 oz. in it!