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Old 07-02-2008, 10:57 AM   #1
Bald Head Brewer
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I'm planning on making a Holiday Spice Ale for parties around Thanksgiving and Christmas time. I want to bottle it in wine or champagne bottles with a cork for presentation purposes. Before I do so, and potentially ruin a batch of beer, can it be done? A few questions I have regarding the matter...

1. Are wine or champagne bottles strong enough to handle carbonation? Or will I be making 'bottle bombs'?
2. Are there any priming issues I need to adjust before bottling since I'm using non-beer bottles?
3. Will using a cork be ok for beer?
4. How long will it take to bottle condition in wine/champagne bottles?

I'm pretty sure that Dogfish Head Brewery has a beer that they bottle in champagne bottles, but I've never seen it or had it, so I'm unsure if it's constructed differently or if there's mitigating factors during the bottling process that they do in order to safely bottle it.

Thanks
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Old 07-02-2008, 11:04 AM   #2
Donasay
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champagne bottles yes, they will be fine. Wine bottles not so much, they don't hold pressure so well.
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Old 07-02-2008, 11:34 AM   #3
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Yea wine bottles will just pop the corks out. If they're held in place, they'll explode, so just use the champagne bottles.

For your other questions answered, no you prime like normal, a cork with a cage is OK on champagne bottles, and conditioning takes the same amount of time as in regular beer bottles.
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Old 07-02-2008, 11:36 AM   #4
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You CANNOT use corks for bottling beer. The pressure behind the carbonation will push the cork out of the bottle and spill your beer everywhere. You can recap champagne bottles or the 750 mL beer bottles, although I do think they take larger caps.

I've seen beers that have corks AND bottle caps. Perhaps you could do that. When you get to the party, surreptitiously remove the bottle cap and then you can make a show of de-corking the beer. You can also use more traditional champagne cork and wire cage to secure your beer.

EDIT: I need to type faster.

Reason: EvilTOJ beat me!

 
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Old 07-02-2008, 11:39 AM   #5
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if you're using a real old fashioned cork not the newer plastic type you will need to store the bottles on their sides to keep the corks wet or they may not seal, which means you really need to clear the beer first or the yeast will get stirred up every time you pour it. Also if you plan on making anything highly carbonated you may need to wire the corks down like for champaign buts thats only for extreme carbonation. to simplify things maybe some nice swing tops bottles would do just as well for presentation? you can get some really nice cobalt blue ones for not to much money.

 
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Old 07-02-2008, 12:04 PM   #6
Donasay
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmulligan View Post
You CANNOT use corks for bottling beer. The pressure behind the carbonation will push the cork out of the bottle and spill your beer everywhere. You can recap champagne bottles or the 750 mL beer bottles, although I do think they take larger caps.

I've seen beers that have corks AND bottle caps. Perhaps you could do that. When you get to the party, surreptitiously remove the bottle cap and then you can make a show of de-corking the beer. You can also use more traditional champagne cork and wire cage to secure your beer.

EDIT: I need to type faster.
In the case of the bottles with corks and caps, the caps are really just for show. The cage is what holds the cork in place on a champagne bottle.
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Old 07-02-2008, 01:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donasay View Post
In the case of the bottles with corks and caps, the caps are really just for show. The cage is what holds the cork in place on a champagne bottle.
Just the opposite. With corks and caps the caps are designed to take the pressure while the cork provides the traditional experience and perhaps adds some flavor. Those types of bottles do NOT have cages.
If you use corked champagne bottles without caps then you need the cages to ensure the cork is not ejected prematurely.

As mentioned you can cap champagne and sparkling wine bottles however be aware that traditional Champagne bottles from Europe use a larger cap than beer bottles which requires a different cup for your capper. I've also had difficulty with capping them using my hand capper. A bench capper works great. American sparkling wine bottles can be capped with traditional beer bottle caps but you may still have the difficulty with the capper, though it does work.

You could bottle flat beer in wine bottles but do not carbonate in them.

Craig

 
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Old 07-02-2008, 03:36 PM   #8
HomerT
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Use 750ml Belgian bottles with Belgian Beer Corks and wire cages. I just did two cases like htis form my Belgian Golden Strong.

-Todd

 
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Old 07-02-2008, 04:36 PM   #9
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Great Feedback.

OK, I'm tracking that I have 3 solid options right now:

1. Use a champagne bottle with a cork and cage---store on its side.
2. Use 750ml Belgian beer bottles with respective cork and cage.
3. Compromise and use a 22 oz. flip-top bottle

I also think I'll add a little red wax to the bottle for show....should turn out nicely.
I'll just have to figure out a way to 'cap' it and I'll be in business.

Thanks everyone
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Old 07-02-2008, 04:41 PM   #10
BierMuncher
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Buy some Chimay Red and Blue. Great beer.

That's how they package it.

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I have some bottles, corks and cages that I saved. But that cork looks really, really big and I'm not sure how to squeeze it in.



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