How to bottle beer—in 22 easy steps

beer71. On a visit home, your son brings a beer making kit. His fiancé, who gave it to him a year ago, has threatened to re-gift it if he doesn’t use it soon.

beer52. Son and fiancé boil up the brew, pour it into a large jug, and top with a thingy. The instructions say to store in cool, dark place. They wrap it in a sheet and put in the downstairs shower.

3. The morning of their departure, four days later, remind son of the hooch. He’ll review the instructions and read aloud that it’s not to be disturbed for two weeks. (Two weeks!)

4. Maintain a calm, even tone while you suggest he pour it down the drain. Straighten your spine, shoulders back, head held high in defiance as he places a hand on your shoulder and uses his hostage negotiator tone (one he perfected during his teen years to defuse your bat-crap-crazy reactions to some of his antics)—“Come on Mom, you and Dad can do it.”

5. Begrudgingly admit that you can as you review the things you are no longer capable of doing—the splits, staying awake past ten p.m., recalling your mother’s maiden name. Embrace this opportunity to impress your adult child.

6. The night before bottling, son calls to remind you. It’s a good thing because you want to pretend you forgot, let it expire beyond the two-week deadline, and toss it out.

beer67. Read the instructions. Read again—and again. One more time. Learn a fun fact: the sludge at the bottom of the jug is called trub. Think about watching the suggested online instructional video.

8. Sleep fitfully.

9. In the morning, take a Lorazepam to reduce anxiety over your fear of accidentally siphoning trub into the bottles. In the meantime, sanitize the bottles and review the instructions. Think again about watching the online video.

beerinstructions10. Once the medication kicks in, enlist the assistance of your Baby Daddy. Give him the job of sucking on the end of the siphon tubing to get the flow going and inserting it into a bottle.

11. With one hand, hold the racking cane in the jug, ever vigilant to keep it away from the trub. With your other, place your thumb and finger on the tubing clamp to stop the flow when a bottle is full.

12. Baby Daddy yells, “Stop! It’s almost full! I said stop!”

13. In a panic, pull the racking cane from the liquid.

14. Baby Daddy sighs, “Damn, we lost the suction.”

15. After a couple of filled bottles, begin to enjoy the process—that is, until you start on the capping. How much pressure is too much pressure? Maybe you should watch the video.

16. Let Baby Daddy take over as you stand back and wring your hands. “You’re going to break the bottle. You’re going to….”

beerlucy17. Before you know it, you’ve got 10 bottles of beer. Let Lucy (or whatever you call your dog) sniff for quality control. Feel proud that you accomplished your task with a minimum of bickering and trub in the bottles.

18. Store the beer in a box. Place on the back porch in case one explodes. (Thank friend Larry for this tip).

19. On your next trip to see son, deliver the beer. Watch a smile cross his face as he praises you in much the same way you have always praised his successes. See that smile fade after he takes his first sip. “I don’t really like it.”

20. It’s Pecan Pie Amber Ale. Must be an acquired taste.

21. Give yourselves pats on the back. You did something you never imagined—something you’ll never do again.

22. Make son buy you dinner.

The reluctant brewmeisters.

The reluctant brewmeisters.

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6 thoughts on “How to bottle beer—in 22 easy steps

  1. Hilarious, Kate. Reminds me of our wine-making efforts. We saved bottles for “a special occasion” and needless to say, when we finally opened one it was undrinkable.

  2. I am soooooo proud of the ‘reluctant brewmasters.’ 10 bottles and no one was hurt. And I learned something. It’s trup. All these years I’ve called it sludge. Great job.

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