As with every step that takes place after the boil, all surfaces that are to come in contact with the beer must be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. This means buckets, siphons, tubes, bottles, caps, everything... After cleaning and flushing each bottle with hot water, I fill them with a
solution of Starsan, an acid-based sanitzer developed for the brewing industry. Starsan is amazing stuff: strong enough to kill unwanted bacteria, but gentle enough to not require rinsing once the solution is drained. It also produces a thick bouffant of foam that works into every nook and crevice.
After sanitizing the bottles and bottling bucket, it's time to prepare a corn sugar solution that will carbonate the beer in the bottle once the cap is sealed. This process is pretty amazing and is definitely a little mystifying if you haven't seen it before. In a nutshell, the fermented beer is transfered, bya sanitary siphon, from the fermenter to the bottling bucket (a 5-gallon plastic bucket with spigot at the bottom), in order to separate the beer from the yeast and hop material (brewers call the mix trub) that coats the bottom of the fermenter.
While the transfer is taking place, I measure a little more than 3/4 cup of corn sugar and mix it with 1/2 cup of water and place it on the stove burner. I mix and bring the solution to a boil for 5 minutes. The sugary mix is rapidly cooled in an ice water bath, added at room temperature to the beer in the bottling bucket, and stirred with a sanitized spoon. Once the slightly sweet beer is sealed in the bottles, the yeast that has inevitably stayed suspended in the beer during the siphoning will consume the simple sugar converting it to a tiny amount of CO2, which is trapped in the bottle and dissolves into the beer over the course of about two week. Caps are applied, in my case, with a hand-held capped that can be cumbersome, but gets the job done.
Voila! You have produced a bottle-conditioned beer.