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Old 11-19-2008, 03:20 PM   #1
The_Chemist
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Default Help - Using cork with unibroue bottles

So I have batch number two of beer ready to bottle. For the last batch, I used the plastic 'mushroom' shaped cork stoppers (similar to what you see with champagne bottles or normal 750 mL unibroue bottles only plastic instead of cork).

I have two problems with these caps:

1) I am not sure that they sealed the beer properly on my last batch as different bottles lost all carbonation and other maintained only moderate carbonation (I was sure to mix the primer (the prescribed amount of dextrose) homogeneously throughout the beer before bottling).

2) I don't have enough of these caps for this batch and I would have to trek quite a distance to get more.

So... I need an alternative.

My first choice is normal cylindrical wine corks. I have checked and these fit snuggly into the unibroue bottles. My only concern is if they can withstand the pressure of carbonation without popping out. I could cover them with something heavy or place them on the side while fermenting in bottle to help them take the stress. I have tons of corks and floor corker, so this would be most convenient for me. Anyone have any ideas on how successful this 'ghetto' method might be?

Also, any other ideas for caps on the unibroue bottles would be great. I want to continue to use these bottles for many reasons, so please don't suggest changing to other types of bottles.

Thanks a bunch in advance,
Aaron

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Old 11-19-2008, 03:53 PM   #2
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The plastic stoppers are for American Champagne bottles, the ones that take normal (26mm?) crown caps, not the 29mm Euro crowns.

To cork Unibroue 750ml bottles, you need Belgian corks, a floor corker, and wire hoods.

I've never done this, but I researched it a bit.

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Old 11-19-2008, 03:57 PM   #3
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wire hoods
+1 on that. You'll need some cages to hold the corks in while they pressurize.
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Old 11-19-2008, 04:01 PM   #4
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So I am still not clear on why the Belgian Corks would be better than regular corks. I get that they allow you to hold down the cork with wire to prevent it from popping off, but I didn't use them with the last batch and it was not a problem (no tops popped off). I am wondering if the pressure of the beer fermenting would pop off a regular cork, especially if the bottles were kept on their side during the fermentation. It's been a while since I did any physics, but my thought experiments tell me it should hold this way.

I mean, if the problem is them popping off, I can just weigh them down during fermentation also with stacks and stacks of text books =D

I think I might wait to bottle until I can source Belgian corks, but I will still test normal corks with a few bottles, stored in a tub in case they explode, of course.

If anyone has further explanation or suggestion, please let me know.

Thanks,
Aaron

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Old 11-19-2008, 04:10 PM   #5
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FWIW I always store my bottles top up to keep the yeast in the bottom. Some styles I think taste better this way and some of my friends are not down "hefe".

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Old 11-19-2008, 04:31 PM   #6
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So I am still not clear on why the Belgian Corks would be better than regular corks.
Belgian corks are 25.5mm diameter. Wine corks are ~21.
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Old 11-19-2008, 04:40 PM   #7
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Those plastic champagne stoppers you used will work better in Ommegang bottles. Even then though it is not always perfect. I found the unibroue do not really work at all, least not the ones I tried.

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Old 11-19-2008, 05:05 PM   #8
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Belgian corks are 25.5mm diameter. Wine corks are ~21.
It's odd because I put a few wine corks into the bottles and they seemed to seal really well. Again, I think I am just going to experiment with this for now. It seems that the consensus is against this working, so I will wait and get the real Belgian corks. A few more days in the secondary never hurt anything really...

Aaron
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Old 11-19-2008, 05:45 PM   #9
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Here is one brewers experience with corking belgians.

SLO Brewer » Corking Belgians

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Old 11-20-2008, 11:11 AM   #10
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So I trekked out into the cold and got some Belgian mushroom corks, but I am still going to experiment with some different ways to cap these bottles. Here they are:

Experiment 1: I am using just a normal wine cork without anything extra and no weight on top of it. I Fully expect this cork to pop out at some point. At which time, I will drink the beer so as it's not wasted.

Experiment 2: Wine cork with weight on top. I have many heavy things. I am weighing down the cork on top to prevent it from popping out. My brain tells me that the worst case scenario for this one is a small explosion, which is fine really.

Experiment 3: Wine cork secured with duct tape. This is my flagship method here and I have high hopes for it. Basically, I corked the bottle, then used duct tape length wise to secure it in place. It seems to me that it should hold well and I have high hopes for this technique. It also gives an extra seal over the cork to prevent gas from escaping quite so much assuming that the cork is not as tightly fit as it seems. It looks a bit sketchy, but I am making beer in an 800 sq foot apartment I share with 2 people in the heart of the Montreal Ghetto... it's sketchy enough already.

I'll update on the relative success of each technique.

Aaron

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