Bottle cleaning/ head issue

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Jumbo82

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My technique for cleaning commmercial bottles for reuse is a several step process. First, I give them a quick rinse as soon I can to get out the remaining beer. I set them aside until I accumulate at least a few dozen (days to weeks, depending on if my friends have been drinking non-twist tops like I requested). Then I fill up my bathtub and set them all in there to soak for a few hours. The labels then come off easy, and I give them a scrub to get off the remaining glue. I box up all these clean bottles until I'm ready to use them on bottling day. Then I put 50 or so on the little prong things in the dishwasher and run it with no detergent because I read that soap residue negatively affects head retention. I'm a new member to HBT, but it appears that my system is similar to what a lot of other brewers do.

When it comes to reusing my homebrew bottles, I always give them an immediate rinse after drinking the contents to get out the sediment before it drys out. Then from time to time I'll just put the bottle in the dishwasher with the other dishes before storing it with all the other commerical bottles. I thought that since I give them a wash on bottling day anyway, any soap residue that managed to get into the bottles through that little opening must also be able to be rinsed out the same way. I am beginning to suspect that this is a false assumption.

When I pour my beer into a frosty mug, usually I get a nice head on it. But occasionally I get a "dud," a beer from the same batch that I poured out the same way, but with little to no head. They taste alright, but I like my beer to have adequate carbonation. I think that these duds may be the bottles that ran through the regular dishwasher cycle, but thats just my hunch since they all look the same on bottling day.

I know what most of you are thinking at this point, "well if you're that worried about it, then don't run ANY bottles through the regular wash cycle. Duh!" Thats an easy solution going forward (I only developed this soap/head theory recently), but I still have dozens and dozens of clean bottles in my closet that contain a random mix of regular cycle washed bottles. So after this excessively long intro, here are my questions; Once a bottle has soap residue inside, what is the best way to completely clean it out? A bleach soak? C-Brite? Or should I just deal with some headless beers in my next batch and chock them up to experience? Or am I on the wrong track with this theory and is my pre-bottling non-detergent dishwasher cycle actually removing the residue? If this is indeed the case, then what could be another cause for the occasional head dud? I'd hate to take a scrub brush to every single bottle if this is completely unneccesary (I'd hate it even if it was necessary to tell you the truth, but I'd still do it). Thanks in advance for your help and I apologize if this is a common type of thread, but I really did try to search the forum first (my search skills may be lacking).
 

Beerthoven

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Well, one thing that comes to mind is the cap. Sometimes I find bottles that didn't cap as tightly as the others and those beers tend to be a little flatter. Bass Ale bottles in particular seem hard to cap.

Also, make sure your priming solution is well mixed into the beer before you bottle. I put the priming solution into the bottling bucket then rack the beer onto it and give it a gentle stir with the racking cane every so often.

As for the dishwasher cycles making a difference, I really can't say. I don't use the dishwasher for cleaning or sanitizing my bottles. Maybe someone else who does it this way will have some advice for you.
 
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Jumbo82

Jumbo82

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Beerthoven said:
Well, one thing that comes to mind is the cap. Sometimes I find bottles that didn't cap as tightly as the others and those beers tend to be a little flatter. Bass Ale bottles in particular seem hard to cap.

Also, make sure your priming solution is well mixed into the beer before you bottle. I put the priming solution into the bottling bucket then rack the beer onto it and give it a gentle stir with the racking cane every so often.

As for the dishwasher cycles making a difference, I really can't say. I don't use the dishwasher for cleaning or sanitizing my bottles. Maybe someone else who does it this way will have some advice for you.


Yeah, the capping is likely the problem. I had some Dos Equis bottles recently that I had a difficult time capping, so I threw most of them away since I didn't want to buy an attachment for my capper to handle the larger sized opening. A few had already been capped so they are still in my possession until I get around to drinking the contents. I have some Bass bottles too, I hadn't noticed but it may be those type that have been giving me head problems. Also my SWMBO helped me cap the last batch, which was her first time, and she may not have tightened them all adequately. I like this solution to my problem because it lays the blame elsewhere ;). As for the priming solution, I will try stiring occasionally. Right now I just pour the wort into my bucket fermenter from several feet up and let it churn to aerate it that way. More stiring can only help. Thank you for your advice.
 

Donasay

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Jumbo82 said:
As for the priming solution, I will try stiring occasionally. Right now I just pour the wort into my bucket fermenter from several feet up and let it churn to aerate it that way. More stiring can only help. Thank you for your advice.
Once the wort has fermented and turned into beer you want to minimize contact with oxygen, so just lay the end in the bottling bucket and let it transfer in gently. In case you are adding the priming sugar a little early, you should not add it till just before you start bottling. It is best to boil the sugar in about a cup of water and mix that solution with the beer. It should distribute evenly.
 
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Jumbo82

Jumbo82

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Donasay said:
Once the wort has fermented and turned into beer you want to minimize contact with oxygen, so just lay the end in the bottling bucket and let it transfer in gently. In case you are adding the priming sugar a little early, you should not add it till just before you start bottling. It is best to boil the sugar in about a cup of water and mix that solution with the beer. It should distribute evenly.


Ha, I'm an idiot. I described how I mix the wort into the primary instead of racking to my bottling bucket. Yes, I siphon to minimize air contact and thought that the swirling at the bottom of the bucket would mix the sugar. I pour the hot sugar solution in when the bucket is a few inches filled. Should I be waiting until the the siphoning is finished, then adding the sugar solution and stiring?
 

malkore

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dishwasher detergent has a rinse aid, and if you put jet dry in the dishwasher, that only makes it worse. rinse aids KILL beer head.
 
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Jumbo82

Jumbo82

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Ok, so is there an easy way to get this stuff out once its in there?
 

Ridge Runner

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Jumbo82 said:
Should I be waiting until the the siphoning is finished, then adding the sugar solution and stiring?
Couple of things that might help. Boil your priming sugar then cool it to about room temp or the temp of your beer. Add your priming solution to the bottom of your bottling bucket as gently as possible. Try not to introduce any undo oxygen. Stick your siphon tube to the bottom of the bucket and allow the swirling of your beer to mix everything up. I've had a couple undercarbed batches and the only things I could trace it back to were hot and inadequately mixed priming sugar. Now I make sure to gently stir my beer with my wort paddle, trying to minimize the addition of oxygen and no carb problems since. As far as your bottles, I never put mine in the dishwasher, although many folks here do. Rinse them a bunch with really hot water to get out any residues.
 
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Jumbo82

Jumbo82

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Excellent, I'll definately allow the priming sugar to cool next time and give my bottles a good rinse. I'm back on track to making great beer again! Thanks a lot.
 

BrianP

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Jumbo82 said:
Still an EAC in training :cross:
Most junior members don't even know what that means, so you're ahead of the curve grasshoppa. :D
 

Atl300zx

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I use a similar technique and never have head retention problems.

I would think the caps or bottle carbing technique is the issue.

My bottle cleansing/santizing is as follows:

1) Rinse Bottle, Set aside.
2) Soak bottle in Oxyclean
3) Run thru dishwasher with unscented powdered soap (with other dishes) with heated dry
4) Set aside until bottling
5) Soak in Star San, then bottle
 

BrianP

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Atl300zx said:
I use a similar technique and never have head retention problems.

I would think the caps or bottle carbing technique is the issue.

My bottle cleansing/santizing is as follows:

1) Rinse Bottle, Set aside.
2) Soak bottle in Oxyclean
3) Run thru dishwasher with unscented powdered soap (with other dishes) with heated dry
4) Set aside until bottling
5) Soak in Star San, then bottle

If it's a bottle you just drank, steps #2 & #3 are redundant. If you rinse with hot water a few times, swirl, visually check there's no more yeast residue, it's good to go and only needs sanitizer just before bottling. Much less work for same result.
 
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