I got my Ruby Saison beer bottled yesterday afternoon but it took a long time. The yeast (Mangrove Jack’s M27 Belgian Saison) had done a grand job and dropped the original gravity of 1.071 all the way down to 1.004, which means the ABV (alcohol by volume) measurement is about 8.8%. Most of my brews have been about half this strong and, for most purposes, I’m very happy with weaker beers; a refreshing brew to quaff without impairing your function too much. A stronger beer is a different beast, not to be knocked back but to be sipped and enjoyed and that meant I wanted to use smaller bottles.
I’ve collected a decent number of smaller bottles over the past couple of years but hadn’t got round to removing the labels so a couple of hours was spent peeling, scraping and scrubbing. Once anything that can be easily torn off has been removed, the best approach seems to be pouring near-boiling water over the bottles and then (carefully) lifting them out one by one, scraping with the back of a fairly flexible knife and then rubbing with a metal scourer.
As a result, the bottling chore took much longer than usual but I’ve now got a good batch of beer to start enjoying – in small quantities – once it has had a few weeks to condition on the bottles.