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How to properly store your bottled homebrew beer

How to properly store your bottled homebrew beer

You've done the hard work.

You've prepared a nice wort and it fermented well.

Then bottling day came and you got your golden brew safely away under cap.

Now what?

It's time to bottle condition your beer and that doesn't mean you hide it in a under blanket in an old swap-a-crate box and forget about it for a few weeks. 

Well actually you can do this, but it you want great tasting beer there's a few things to think about when storing beer. 

First with the warm and then with the cold


When you are bottle conditioning, you are adding a second round of sugar to your beer. This is so that a second round of fermentation can take place. 

The yeast still present in the beer will eat the sugar and convert it to more alcohol and CO2 - this gas is what carbonates the beer. 

So, just like when you did the first round of fermentation, the yeast does its best work at a warm temperature. So, to properly store your beer so that it is carbonated, the beer needs to be kept warm for a few days. 

The ideal temperature range is between approx 18 - 25°C for 5 to 7 days. 

After week or so, you should leave them in a much cooler place with a temperature range between approx 8 - 12°C. This will allow the beers to condition quite nicely. 

This thing about the correct temperature is real. 

Let me tell you a story. 

In the middle of a New Zealand winter I bottled a lager beer and left it in the shed for about a month. It was cold and the sun didn't warm the shed at all. 

When I when to crack open the first beer, I did not hear that usually reassuring hiss of gas as it escapes from the bottle. 

The silence was brutal. 

My beer was flat. 

So I opened another bottle and had the same result. And again for a third.

I wondered if I had destroyed my beer somehow. 'Had fermentation actually occurred'? I wondered.

Of course it had. What I had done was wrap the fermenter in plenty of old painting sheets which kept the beer warn enough to allow the the first round of fermentation to occur. 

For the bottled beer, the problem was the freezing cold. They had sat in the shed naked as the day they were bottled and bitterly cold. The yeast became inactive and no fermentation occurred. 

The solution was to bring the beers inside. I placed them in the living room and gradually they warmed up. After two weeks I opened a beer and boon, I was rewarded with the sound of CO2 releasing from the beer. The yeast had appreciated the warmer temperature, came out of hibernation and got to work on the sucrose. 

Problem solved. 

Conversely, it is unwise to store beer in too hot a place. For example, don't leave it in a hot attic room all summer. The beer will simply get cooked and probably taste like mouldy cardboard. 

Some points to ponder about bottle storage

  • It's really good to have a storage place where the temperature is maintained at a steady rate.
  • Ales are happy with lower temperatures
  • Lagers are happy with higher temperatures
  • The middle of your house is probably cooler than nearer the outside. That could be a factor where you store beer.
  • If you find your beers are in too hot a place, move them!

There's two other important things that can help with properly conditioning beer


1. Don't be afraid of the dark


Like a vampire, you should embrace the darkness. 

Beer does not like sunlight at all. Especially if you are using recycled green beer bottles. If your beer is exposed to too much light, it is said to be 'light struck' or 'skunked'. 

The UV light causes yet another chemical reaction in the beer - the hops are broken down by the light and they form a new compound when mixed with the proteins in the beer - giving off a horrid smell just like a skunk can do.

2. Now comes the hard part - waiting 


You have to let you beer condition. The rule of thumb is that your beer is probably drinkable after one week but is only beginning to get close to its best tastings at three weeks.

If you've ever found a forgotten beer in the shed that's had three months conditioning, you probably really enjoyed it right? 

That's just proof you need to give your beer time to mature.

How to make beer in less than 20 minutes


If you've ever heard anyone go on and on about 'brewing day' and the 'perfect hoppy IPA' they made, you could be forgiven for thinking that making beer takes all day and only the keenest enthusiasts make beer.

But if you don't have all day and you don't need a milk stout but just want beer, let me assure you that you can make beer in 20 minutes.

That's right, you can make beer in 20 minutes if you're organised.

Here's how to make beer in 20 minutes


Boil the kettle

Take your fermenter. 

Sanitise it with sodium percarbonate. Rinse. 

Add your can of malt to the fermeneter. 

Add your beer enhancer.

Add the boiled water from the kettle

Stir it. 

Add hops

Add water to the 23 litre level. 

Pitch the yeast

Put the fermenter in a warm place. 

Congratulations, you have made beer in less than 20 minutes.

Now store it properly for 3 weeks and then enjoy with my regards.  




Why is there no bubbles in the airlock?

no bubbles, no fermentation?

If you're a new brewer, you might be pretty keen to see some bubbles in the airlock after you've made your first beer.

We can also imagine your concern when you check your beer the day after you've brewed and hear and see no bubbles. 

And you'll have asked yourself:


 Why is there not any bubbles in the airlock? 



That's a fair question to ask and there are often some simple answers which should arrest any concerns.

It could be that there was a leak that allows the CO2 to escape from the fermenter. To teach you to suck rotten eggs, those bubbles in the air lock are carbon dioxide gas, the bi-product of fermentation and so could easily escape of the fermenter is not properly sealed.

You may have not tightened the drum enough or possibly not screwed in the tap properly. It's a good idea to check this is the case before you worry too much about a lack of bubbles.

If you didn't see any signs of fermentation it could be that it's too cold to brew.


Is your batch of beer in a warm enough place? If you're brewing during summer months, it's probably not too cold and your beer will ferment just fine and the bubbles will share in your beer making joy. 

If you've left your beer in a cold place in the shed, then it may be too cold for fermentation to begin. If this is the base then you might want to consider moving your fermenter inside to a warmer place.

If you insist on keeping the fermenter in your man shed, you could consider wrapping it with blankets or old painting sheets like I do. 

This is a handy trick and will help to keep the chill off your homebrew. 

You've checked and you have no leaks so is no bubbles in the airlock really a sign of a lack of fermentation?


The first thing to bear in mind is that it can take at least 15 hours of your Earth time before the CO2 bubbles start gurgling through the airlock.

So don't go drowning your sorrows just yet if the bubbles haven't started. 

If you think that your beer hasn't started brewing there's some very easy problem solving you can try. 

Look for the scum


If you are using a glass fermenter you can look for a dark scum that rings around the water level mark. 

You can probably see it through the standard white fermenter drum as well. If the scum is sticking to the side, at the top of the water line, you can be pretty confident that fermentation is under way and your beer will be just fine!

You can also check for signs of foam. 

A nice foam at the top of the water line also indicates that fermentation is taking place. 

So I'm pretty sure fermentation has not occurred. What happened?


Give it 20 - 48 hours before you start to worry about a lack of bubbles or signs of fermentation. 

Then you may wish to consider other things that could have occurred. 

When you pitched the yeast, did you add it to a wort that was at the right temperature? If your wort was too hot and not cooled properly, your yeast may have died due to the heat. 

If you think you killed your yeast, you can always re pitch with another set. 

Was your yeast fresh? If you were using an old packet, the yeast may have lost its spark and not have enough viable units to begin fermenting. 

Did you rinse out the sanitiser? 


As an expert beer brewer, we KNOW you carefully sanitised the fermenter and all the equipment you used. But did you rinse if off it was the kind that needed it? If you cleaned with bleach, you need to rinse other wise the residue could have killed your yeast. 

11 tips and tricks for when using carbonation drops:

easy tips to use carbonation drops

11 handy tips and tricks for when using carbonation drops on bottling day

  1. 60 carbonation drops, will be enough drops for one 23 litre brew.
  2. 1 dop for a 300 - 500 ml bottle, two for anything over 750 mls.
  3. Once you have added the drops and bottled the beer, it will take about 7 days to condition. This is the bare minimum before which you can drink your beer. The patient beer brewer should wait about 3 weeks before sampling their brew but we know you won't listen...
  4. Beware over priming your beer. If you add too much sugar or dextrose, too much CO2 will be produced by the yeast and it will have nowhere to escape. It will escape in the form of a 'beer bomb' when you open your beer and it will gush out the next of the bottle like a geyser and go all over the place and you will have committed a cardinal sin, wasting beer!
  5. You can use drops to carbonate apple cider as well as beer. The measurements are the same to get the same amount of carbonation.
  6. Different temperatures will play on how well the carbonation process goes. The yeast in beer generally enjoys a warmer temperature to do its thing - so if you are questioning whether the drops didn't produce enough CO2, bear in mind there are other factors at play such as being too cold! Beer should be kept warm for a few days after adding the sugar. Then move to a cool place. 
  7. If you do choose to not use drops and just wish to add granulated sugar to the bottle, we recommend the use of an ordinary kitchen funnel as it speeds things up and helps reduce the mess of sugar going everywhere. You could also consider batch priming your brew
  8. We once tried using jelly beans as a substitute for carbonation drops. The results were quite interesting! Basically you can use any form of sugar lollies for carbonating beer - as long as it it fits down the neck of the beer you'll be right! You can also use honey!
  9. We've used Mangrove Jack's drops many times and had no problems so are very happy to recommend their use.
  10. You can use carbonation drops with your ginger beer as well!
  11. If you are buying drops on line, say Coopers Drops from Amazon, we suggest you order at least a couple of packets - that way the cost for delivery becomes more effective by price per unit.

What is 'skunked' beer?

cute shunks

What is 'skunked' beer?


You can probably guess that if you're beer is skunked, your beer is done for.

Just like your clothes are ruined if a skunk manages to offload the contents of their anal glands over you, skunked beer can be undrinkable.

So how does beer become skunked?


It occurs when a chemical reaction happens in the bottled beer due to exposure to sunlight.

This 'lightstruck' beer is caused by the UV radiation in light from the sun. 

If a beer has been left too long in a store under the shops lights, it can happen as well.

What actually happens is the so-alpha acids in the beer (which come from hops) are broken down and form a new compound in the beer by joining with any proteins floating around. 

This compound stinks! Kind of like a skunk's odorous spray.

So how can you prevent skunked beer?


It seems pretty obvious eh, keep your beer in the dark and at the very least, out of direct sunlight. 

Brown glass is pretty handy at preventing this from occurring but not so much green bottles or clear glass. 

So, the trick to avoiding skunked beer is clearly to store your beer in the dark.

To sum up:
  • If you are brewing a lager, bear in mind a strange smell could be 'normal' and may disappear after the beer has been conditioned. 
  • It could well be your beer is contaminated by bacteria, in which case nothing will save it. Head to the pub for a self pitying pint.
  • Lightstruck or skunked beer can happen when bottled beer is left in sunlight too long so leave your homebrew in a cool and dark place. 

How can I best store spare hops?

What's the best way to properly store spare  hops?

What's the best way to properly store opened hops?


This is a fair enough question. Hops are expensive and if you've got some spare, keeping them as fresh as possible is a good idea.

The short answer to the question is that it turns out that turns out freezing hops is actually a common method of beer brewers!

If you've purchased a vacuum sealed packet of hops and have some leftover, then freezing them is a tried and true method of keeping spare hops fresh.

If you like me to teach you to suck eggs, this is how you do it.take your leftover beer hops and place them in a clean, unused zip-lock bag.

Remove the excess air by folding it over and then seal the bag. If you happen to possess a vacuum sealer we suggest you use it to remove all the air.

Grab a Sharpie pen and write on the name of the hops on the bag so you don't forget what they are and then chuck them in the freezer until required for your next brew day.

In such cases, you might not need to freeze the hops if the sealing has been done properly, but it wouldn't hurt just the same.

You can also refrigerate the hops


Again, put them in a fresh zip lock bag or something else airtight (like a clean lunch box). I read somewhere that hops can stay fresh for up to a year this way.

How to get cheap hops 


Specialty brewing shops will off load older hops fairly regularly to their regular customers. A handy trick is to follow your local brewing specialists on Facebook and other social media and keep an eye out for hops give-a-ways.

The ones I follow often announce that they are giving away their old hops stock because they have a fresh order coming in.


Signing off 

I reckon that as long as your hops has not been exposed to too much oxygen, they will keep well enough for the average homebrewer to not have to worry about hops going stale.

When do I add hops pellets to my beer wort?

When do I add hops pellets to my beer wort?

There are two times when you need to add the hops to your beer brew. For each, it depends on how you are making your beer batch. 

All grain boil ups


The beer wort is often boiled with the hops added at crucial moments just prior to being cooled.

The timings of when to add the hops in the boil can be critical because the different boil times cause the hops to work differently on the beer by imparting differing qualities.

If you are making your own wort (that is you are not using a beer kit) then it's best practice to follow a tried and true recipe, at least as you start out.

This part of the process is often referred to the “hop schedule”. A hop schedule will lists the length of time that the hops should be in the boil, not the amount of time you should wait to add the hops. So pay attention to what you are reading!

Following the schedule properly will allows you to making your timings correctly. It's basically the rule of 'follow the recipe' - until you are experimenting with hops!

The rough guide to using hops on the boil is the longer you boil the hops, the more bitterness they will impart into the wort.

The shorter time frame you boil them, the more flavours will be added to the beer.

It all depends on how you want your beer to benefit from the hops addition.

Adding hops with a beer kit wort


If you are using a simple beer extract kit then you can add the hops when you are preparing the batch of wort. Just add it to your wort and fermentation will do the rest.

This is known as dry hopping.

Some people like to delay adding the hops until a few days later. This is fine, but in our experience of using brewing kits, it makes little difference to the end result in the hop aromas and taste your beer will have.

Dry hopping is often considered in efficient as not all the bittering components of the hops are released into the beer - one way to increase the efficiency of the release is by making a hop tea.