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Old 09-19-2009, 04:33 PM   #1
Saccharomyces
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I have a Portuguese floor corker and wanted to cork Belgian bottles. I figured it out and figured I'd post a mini-howto here with pics so folks don't have to spend two hours scouring search engines before trying it out.

You'll need a corker (duh). I already have one because I bottle a lot of wine. They are about $70 from LHBS. You can probably borrow one from a buddy if you don't have one. You will also need Belgian beer corks and cages available from LHBS. Not every LHBS will carry them so you may have to buy online. Sanitize the corks with whatever sanitizer you wish before using.

Slip a #6.5 or #7 stopper over the plunger and set the screw stop somewhere around the middle. You can fine tune it later.



Insert the bottle into the corker and push the cork into the Iris (it will be a tight fit since the Belgian corks are wider than the wine corks the corker is designed for). When you press down on the lever to insert the cork, the stopper will stop the plunger leaving about 5/8" of the cork sticking out. When you raise the lever, the cork will still be stuck in the corker so you need to push it out while pulling the bottle down from the corker at the same time -- if you just pull down on the bottle without pushing on the cork, the cork will get pulled out of the bottle and stay stuck in the corker. The handle of a screwdriver works great for pushing on the cork... simply push down on the driver handle with your right hand as you pull the bottle straight down with your left hand. The cork will pop out of the corker without getting pulled back out of the bottle.



Proper cork depth is about an index finger width below where the wire cage attaches to the bottle. Don't worry about being exact, as long as the cage isn't too loose it will fix itself as the bottle carbs and the pressure pushes the cork out until it catches on the cage.



Each cage gets six half twists. This cage tool ($4 from LHBS) makes the job much easier than using a pen.



Last step: admire your work. Those bottles look sexy!

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Old 09-20-2009, 11:42 AM   #2
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Great tutorial! Good idea for the screwdriver handle assist method - I just used brute force (and occasionally tried to break off my own kneecap with the bottom of a bottle) to get them out of the corker.

I had some trouble getting the cage tool to tighten the cage properly without making too small a loop at the end. The smaller the loop, the harder it is to untwist. Did you have trouble with this at all?

I was also using cages for champagne bottles, which are somewhat taller with no gold cap at the top. I didn't notice I had the wrong ones till it was too late.

 
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Old 09-21-2009, 03:24 PM   #3
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I had some trouble getting the cage tool to tighten the cage properly without making too small a loop at the end. The smaller the loop, the harder it is to untwist. Did you have trouble with this at all?
Nope six twists and it was perfect. I was using Belgian cages, they are sized a bit differently than the Champagne cages.
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Old 09-22-2009, 12:47 AM   #4
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Was reading a few years ago a writeup on doing this and they took a dremel to the lower opening of the corker to make space for the cork to exit easily. That might have made it problematic for corking wine later though....

 
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Old 10-19-2009, 04:53 PM   #5
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Was reading a few years ago a writeup on doing this and they took a dremel to the lower opening of the corker to make space for the cork to exit easily. That might have made it problematic for corking wine later though....
The screwdriver push method is ludicrously simple, and doesn't involve modifying a $70 piece of hardware... The StarSan makes the cork pretty slippery so it isn't difficult to get the cork out with a little practice.
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Old 10-19-2009, 05:52 PM   #6
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I dont' have the same corker, but what I found worked well for mine was to push the bottle+cork out with another cork using the press. On mine this sets the next cork up into the press and gets the previous bottle+cork out without the need for grabbing a screwdriver or whatever.

 
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Old 10-19-2009, 07:14 PM   #7
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I dont' have the same corker, but what I found worked well for mine was to push the bottle+cork out with another cork using the press. On mine this sets the next cork up into the press and gets the previous bottle+cork out without the need for grabbing a screwdriver or whatever.
Nice.. I will have to give that a try next time!
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Old 01-19-2010, 03:12 PM   #8
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bump

i just racked 3 gal of flemish red onto 7 lbs of fresh bing cherries and bottled the other 2 gal in champagne bottles. since i didn't have a champagne or portugese corker i simply used a wine bottle corker with wine corks and then used the cages to reinforce the corks from being pushed out by the carbonation. worked like a charm! they don't look as pretty as yours with the portugese corks, but it'll work just fine i think. also, since the cages were a bit larger than the wine corks, used bottle caps were placed on top of the wine cork then the cage applied.

 
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Old 01-19-2010, 11:03 PM   #9
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What about mushrooming the cork for an authentic look? Any ideas?

 
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Old 01-19-2010, 11:23 PM   #10
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What about mushrooming the cork for an authentic look? Any ideas?
i just so happen to be in this section of wild brews right this second. "Champagne corks are straight sided and only develps the mushroom shape after being jammed into a bottle. They are not solid cork, but discs of cork separatd by a cork mash." (Sparrow, p248 wild brews)

 
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