"Can Your Own Beer: A Step-by-Step Guide for home brewers

Monday, February 6, 2023
Can Your Own Beer: A Step-by-Step Guide!

Are you ready to take your beer brewing skills to the next level? Canning your own beer is a great way to enjoy your homemade brews on the go, share them with friends, and even store them for long periods of time. 

In this guide, we'll go over everything you need to know about canning beer, from the equipment you'll need to the process itself, and even tips to avoid any common pitfalls.

canning homebrew beer

Equipment you will need:

  • Homebrew beer that's ready to be canned!
  • 12 oz. beer cans
  • Canning machine
  • Canning lids and seals
  • Sanitizer
  • Filling wand
  • Large pot
  • Tongs
The Canning Process:
  • Sanitize all equipment thoroughly to prevent contamination.
  • Fill your large pot with water and heat it to 140°F to preheat the cans.
  • Fill the cans about 95% full with your homebrew beer using the filling wand.
  • Use the canning machine to place the canning lids and seals on the filled cans.
  • Put the cans in the large pot of 140°F water for about 30 minutes to pasteurize the beer and ensure its shelf life.
  • Cool the cans to room temperature, label them so you don't confuse it with 7up!

Common pitfalls to avoid when canning

  • Overfilling the cans: This can cause the lids to pop off during the pasteurization process. Fill them to about 95% full to ensure proper sealing. Aim to "can on the foam" - more below on that. 
  • Not sanitizing the equipment: This can lead to contamination and spoilage of your beer. Sanitize everything before use.
  • Improper pasteurization: If the water in the large pot isn't hot enough, or if the cans aren't in the water long enough, your beer may not pasteurize properly and could spoil.

Using a Benchtop Can Seamer for Beer Canning

A benchtop can seamer is a machine that seals the tops of cans, making them airtight and perfect for storing and transporting your beer. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use a benchtop can seamer:

Set up the machine: Make sure the machine is securely attached to a sturdy surface. Fill the machine with the necessary components, such as the can lids and the seaming rollers.

  • Prepare the cans: Fill the cans with your beer, leaving about some headspace at the top. Wipe the rim of the can to remove any drips or debris.
  • Load the can into the machine: Place the can onto the seaming chuck and tighten it securely into place. The can should be perfectly centered for a proper seal.
  • Start the seaming process: Turn on the machine and activate the seaming rollers. The machine will rotate the can and apply pressure to the lid, crimping it onto the can and forming an airtight seal.
  • Inspect the seal: After the seaming process is complete, inspect the seal to ensure it's tight and secure. You can also check the seal by gently pressing on the top of the lid; if it's properly sealed, it shouldn't move or make any noise.
  • Repeat the process: Repeat the process for each can until you've sealed all of your beer.
Here's some more thoughts to consider when canning your precious beer brew at home, it's important to consider the following things:
  • Cleanliness: Ensure that all equipment and containers used in the canning process are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized to prevent contamination and spoilage of the beer.
  • Filling Technique: When filling cans, it's important to minimize the amount of oxygen introduced into the can to prevent oxidation, which can affect the flavor and stability of the beer. To do this, some brewers use a counter-pressure filler, which helps to reduce oxygen pickup during the filling process.
  • Can Sealing: Properly sealing the can is crucial to ensuring the beer stays fresh and carbonated. To check the seal, gently press on the top of the lid. If it's properly sealed, it shouldn't move or make any noise.
  • Storage: Store the canned beer in a cool, dark place to protect it from light and heat, which can cause skunking and spoilage.
  • Monitoring Quality: Check the canned beer regularly for signs of spoilage, such as off-flavors, cloudiness, and abnormal carbonation
  • Label Information: Label each can with important information, such as the type of beer, the date it was canned, and the alcohol by volume (ABV).

How long can home-brewed beer last in a can before it deteriorates?

The shelf life of home-brewed beer in a can depends on several factors, including the alcohol content, the level of carbonation, the temperature at which it's stored, and the presence of oxygen. As a general rule of thumb, properly canned and stored beer can last for 6-9 months, but it's best consumed within 3-4 months of canning.

Higher alcohol content beers tend to have a longer shelf life, as the alcohol acts as a preservative. Conversely, lower alcohol content beers are more prone to spoilage and should be consumed within a shorter time frame.

Temperature also plays a significant role in the shelf life of canned beer. Storing the cans in a cool, dark place will help extend their shelf life, while storing them in a warm environment will speed up spoilage.

Finally, oxygen is the enemy of beer, as it can cause the beer to spoil and develop off-flavors. Proper canning technique, which minimizes the amount of oxygen introduced into the can, is critical to extending the shelf life of canned beer.

It's always best to monitor the quality of your canned beer regularly and consume it as soon as possible to ensure maximum freshness and flavor.

That's a polite way to say "drink it" as soon as it has had a few amount of time to condition!


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