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Old 08-09-2006, 07:45 PM   #1
max-the-knife
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Default Bottle question

I am going to start home brewing beer soon. I've done some reading and have a question about bottles. Some authors say buy bottles, some say use a heavy bottle (Corona) and others say use "used & sanitized" bottles. What do you suggest?

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Old 08-09-2006, 07:55 PM   #2
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Most would suggest glass, brown (amber), beer bottles that use a "church key" to remove the cap (not twist off- some failure rate when capping). You can use clear and green bottles if you want, just keep them out of sunlight or flouresent light for any length of time. I use "used" bottles of beer from smaller breweries to get a taste of what different kinds are out there....killing two purposes with one beer. But I will bottle a couple of clear bottles for each batch to check on clarity and sediment that occurs during the process of conditioning.

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Old 08-09-2006, 07:59 PM   #3
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I think most of us use a combination. Personally, I have a couple cases of 12oz bottles I bought from the HBS. I have a couple dozen 22oz bombers, some that I bought new, most of which I saved from some of the local microbrews. I have some bottles I have cleaned and de-labeled - NO SCREW TOPS. Tougher to get a good seal with screw-tops, you could use them in a pinch but it's usually not a good idea. They are also usually a thinner glass, i.e. much more prone to breakage. I make sure not to buy beers with screw tops, the bottle ends up being a waste.

My wife bought me a case of the swing-top bottles when she bought me my kit. I've bought some sparkling french lemonade that comes in a bigger swing-top bottle.

So, it's a definate mix. Tend to think that's pretty common around here.

Things to keep in mind - if you use clear bottles (or green, or blue), you have to be very careful about light. If your beer is exposed to sunlight or fluerescent light for an extended period, it'll get skunky. Simple solution, keep it in boxes, in the basement, in the closet, out of the light. This is less of an issue for brown or amber bottles, although I personally try to keep them in the dark as well.

If you use the swing-top bottles, make sure you take off and sanitize the rings before each use (and replace them periodically).

It's a lot easier to wash your bottles out as you go rather than letting them pile up and the crud to dry out inside. Little soap and hot water, a quick rinse, and they'll just need to be sanitized on bottling day.

Lots of ideas and approaches to de-labeling bottles - ammonia, oxy-clean, and others.

As you get more involved in the process, you may want to consider kegging - but nothing to worry about immediately.

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Old 08-09-2006, 08:15 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info.

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Old 08-09-2006, 10:26 PM   #5
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If your looking for a cheep method, I've heard of quite a few people who use 2L pop bottles. These aren't ideal for carbination, but if you plan on drinking them first, you should be alright.

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Old 08-09-2006, 10:29 PM   #6
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i also use mixed bottle colors and shapes. eventually i'll probably try to get a more uniform collection, but who wants to drink all that beer?! wait...i do.

just an observation: i tried to use several bottles from a Birra Moretti 6-pack that were near impossible to cap. i think i got a good cap on 1 of them.

http://www.birramoretti.it/

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Old 08-09-2006, 10:30 PM   #7
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It can be more expensive to acquire glass bottles upfront, but it's not like you use them once and toss. It's an investment, a very wise one IMHO if you want the beer to be as good as possible. Couple cases from the HBS for the first batch, combined with smart purchasing of commercial beers, and you'll soon have a big enough bottle cache to keep you going. If you are friendly with some barkeeps, ask them to give you the Corona, Sam Adams, and other re-cappable types.

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Old 08-10-2006, 12:49 AM   #8
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Many micro-brewers use the same bottles that we do (if you use 12 ouncers). The Bird mentioned Sam Adams, which are a good example. Using one clear bottle per batch is especially handy if you are making a fruit beer and want to observe the color (keep it in the dark - mine all reside in case boxes so they never get light after bottling until the go into the refrigerator).

And be a little wary of European bottles in general - they have a very slightly different size standard than North American ones, so as noted above, capping can be problematic.

Ah, and one more thing. If you have a beer distributor near you, they may have returnables waiting to be collected. If you are any good at applying a bit of schmoozola, you can possibly talk them into selling them to you for what they would get from the brewer. I did this once and recommended it, but returnables use label glue that is notoriously tough to remove, and the bottles are often so worn that they look frosted. The result is that they can look unappealing.

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Old 08-10-2006, 12:58 AM   #9
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I don't bottle any more but when I did I was lucky enough to have a friend who love carta blanca and tecate in the 32oz bottle the guy saved a ton for me and I only needed 20 for a 5g batch,beats the hell out of 48 12oz bottles IMHO.

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Old 08-10-2006, 03:31 PM   #10
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I wouldn't recommend Corona bottles for two reasons.

1) The "label" is painted on the bottle and is impossible to remove.
2) Corona tastes like a$$.

Drink some Samuel Smith brews. They come in clear bottles that are easy to clean up, and they taste wonderful.

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