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Hey there, fellow homebrew enthusiasts! As someone who's been canning beer for years, I've gotta admit, kegging and bottling have been my go-to choices. The simplicity of packaging and carbonating in a keg cannot be beat. And bottles are nice because they can be reused. But I must say, there's definitely a time and a place when canning beer is ideal. The portability and durability of cans make them a winner in terms of convenience, and the freshness they preserve, when properly filled, is top-notch.
If you're curious about how to can beer, you're in the right place. I'm going to give you the benefit of my years of experience as I share some valuable insights and essential steps to ensure your canning experience is a success.
Step 1: Gather Equipment and Supplies
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let's make sure we have everything we need. Here's what you'll want to have on hand when canning beer:
Canning SystemGet yourself a reliable canning system made explicitly for beer. It doesn't need to be fancy. In fact, the only requirement is that reliably seals the seams of the cans.
Of course, you're going to need cans. Unfortunately, unlike bottles, cans are single use only. So you'll need new clean, dent-free cans. You'll need the same number of lids as well.
You have two options here. The first, and easiest option, is to force carbonate the beer in a keg using a CO2 tank prior to canning. The second option for carbonating beer in a can is to add a bit of extra yeast and some priming sugar to your finished (but uncarbonated) beer prior to transferring it to cans.
A "Beer Gun," Bottling Wand, or Siphon
In order to get the beer in to the cans you'll need a beer gun, a bottling wand, or a siphon of some sort.
Cleanliness is key, my friends. Keep things squeaky clean with sanitizers, brushes, and cleaning agents to make sure every piece of equipment and container is spotless.
Step 2: Prepare Your Beer for Canning
Onto the fun part— making beer and getting the beer ready for canning. To do so, follow these simple steps:
Let your beer complete the fermentation process. Make sure that final gravity is stable before moving forward. If you accidentally can beer that hasn't finished fermenting, it'll continue to do so in the can and the can could potentially explode sometime down the road.
After fermentation give your beer some time to relax. By that, I mean put the fermenter in a fridge for a couple of days and allow any sediment to settle.
Get that fizz just right! If you're going for forced carbonation, hook up your CO2 tank to the keg and either quick carb, or carbonate over time prior to canning. Again, if you prefer the natural route, transfer your beer from the fermenter to a "bottling bucket" and add the proper amount of priming sugar and a bit of extra yeast. Give it a gentle mix then proceed with canning.
Step 3: It's Canning Time
We're almost there, my friends. Let's bust out those cans and do this thing:
It's cleaning time! Make sure all surfaces and equipment coming into contact with the beer are squeaky clean and sanitized.
Best case scenario, you'll use a beer gun to fill the cans which will allow you to "fill" the can with CO2 before adding beer. Adding CO2 to the can will displace oxygen, reducing the risk of oxidation.
Fill 'em Up
Try to fill the cans from the bottom up. Whether you're using a bottling wand, siphon, etc. don't splash beer down into the can from the top. Fill it from the bottom so the beer doesn't become uncarbonated and oxygenated at the same time. This will keep your beer fresher, longer. Best case scenario, you'll use a "beer gun." This will allow the cans to be purged with CO2 before being filled from the bottom with beer.
Seal the Deal
Time to put a lid on it! Use the canning system to apply lids and create a tight seal. We don't want any leaks or unwanted contaminants, do we?
Labeling and Packing
Let's give our canned creations some personality! Add labels with important details like the beer name, style, ABV, and even your brewery logo. After labeling, carefully pack the cans in storage boxes to shield them from light and any potential damage.
If you opted to carbonate with priming sugar and yeast, the cans will need to be stored at room temperature for a couple of weeks before they're carbonated and ready to drink.
EnjoyOnce the beer is properly carbonated and conditioned, crack 'em open and drink up!