Bottling Tips for the Homebrewer

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3 Dawg Night

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I use a wing capper. I have a bench capper, but it does not seem to crimp the cap as well as the wing capper.
I actually feel the bench capper crimps better than my wing capper.

FastFerment trays, available on Amazon. Get a few of these, and you'll never go back to a tree. Available in several different sizes, for different sized bottles.
The bottle tree works pretty well, but if it ever needs replacing, I'll give the trays a look. Why are they better?

Not sure of the brand name (Vino?) bottle washer also available on Amazon. The kind that you push the bottle down onto, it squirts sanitizer up into the bottle with spring pressure. Use about a pint of sanitizer to rinse several cases of bottles, then put them in the FastFerment trays to drip dry. Then put your caps in the bottom tray of the bottle washer to sanitize.
I have one of these on backorder already, but dunking the bottles in the bucket of Star San worked pretty well and didn't take that long, so I'm thinking about cancelling my order. Dunking sanitizes the whole bottle. I'm not really concerned about the exterior of the bottle, obviously, with the exception of the lip of the bottle, that would be under the cap. Does the Vinator get the lip pretty well with the sanitizing solution?
 
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Here's my own contribution to the bottling art. This sped my day up considerably.

More info here: Double-Barrel Bottling: Now, Twice as Fast!


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Dave Sarber

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I actually feel the bench capper crimps better than my wing capper.


The bottle tree works pretty well, but if it ever needs replacing, I'll give the trays a look. Why are they better?


I have one of these on backorder already, but dunking the bottles in the bucket of Star San worked pretty well and didn't take that long, so I'm thinking about cancelling my order. Dunking sanitizes the whole bottle. I'm not really concerned about the exterior of the bottle, obviously, with the exception of the lip of the bottle, that would be under the cap. Does the Vinator get the lip pretty well with the sanitizing solution?
The trays are much more stable. If you ever knock over a bottle tree, you'll understand.
Plus, nothing touches the lip or the inside of the bottle after sanitizing.
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This one holds 12 of the 22oz or 750ml bottles. The other size holds 24 of the 12oz size.

Yes, the vinator does a very good job of the whole inside, and as it drains out, the lip too. I usually wash the outside of the bottles after bottling to remove any beer overruns.
Note: there is a tabletop model, and another model that goes on top of a bottle tree, I naturally use the tabletop model after I retired the bottle tree.
I used to dunk my bottles in a bucket of StarSan, but it takes longer, and uses a lot of StarSan.
 
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CodeSection

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....The bottle tree works pretty well, but if it ever needs replacing, I'll give the trays a look. Why are they better?


I have one of these on backorder already, but dunking the bottles in the bucket of Star San worked pretty well and didn't take that long, so I'm thinking about cancelling my order. Dunking sanitizes the whole bottle. I'm not really concerned about the exterior of the bottle, obviously, with the exception of the lip of the bottle, that would be under the cap. Does the Vinator get the lip pretty well with the sanitizing solution?

I bottle everything since I give my brew away to family, friends and clients. Therefore, I wanted something that handled bottling efficiently. The FastWashers and FastRacks clean and sanitizes the bottles a lot quicker than a five gallon bucket. I went the bucket routine only on two batches and then changed to the FastWashers and FastRacks.



For me, it is all about saving time and convenience......

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Dave Sarber

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I bottle everything since I give my brew away to family, friends and clients. Therefore, I wanted something that handled bottling efficiently. The FastWashers and FastRacks clean and sanitizes the bottles a lot quicker than a five gallon bucket. I went the bucket routine only on two batches and then changed to the FastWashers and FastRacks.



For me, it is all about saving time and convenience......

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Ya, I didn't mention that they were stackable. I wish though that when you buy 2, they included 2 trays. I don't stack them because I don't want the top draining down on the bottom bottles.
 

pc_trott

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I have one of these on backorder already, but dunking the bottles in the bucket of Star San worked pretty well and didn't take that long, so I'm thinking about cancelling my order. Dunking sanitizes the whole bottle. I'm not really concerned about the exterior of the bottle, obviously, with the exception of the lip of the bottle, that would be under the cap. Does the Vinator get the lip pretty well with the sanitizing solution?

The vinator sits in a kind of bowl that you pour the StarSan into. I dip the first inch or two of the neck in StarSan in the bowl after I spray the inside of the bottle. It's quick and easy.
 

breewboy

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Great Tips revvy!

The dip tube idea is great, works without it but it's a bit tricky. However for me i think putting the spigot as low as possible would do the trick.

Regarding the bottle filler, does it matter what kind of bottles i have(size) or can i fill the bottles to the top no matter the size?
 

Antonio Martinez

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I discovered another dishwasher benefit today. It seems the holes in the top rack between the stims are perfect for holding my bottles after I give them a couple quick shots of sanitizer.II can fit about 36 in my top rack. Unfortunately the holes in the bottom rack are too big to hold any. But no need for a bottling tree.
 
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When I first learned how to brew I thought StarSan could only be made in 5 gallon batches and was only good for one use. I had a big plastic tub that would sit on the counter next to the sink and the 5 gallons would fill it just deep enough to reach the top of standard 12oz bottles. I would wash and rinse them one by one and fill up the tub, pushing each bottle down until it filled up, then when the tub was full I'd dump them out one at a time and load the bottle tree until it was full, and fill and cap them in batches. At the end of the session I would dump the star san and put everything away.

Bottling was a chore that took several hours and all of my patience for one day so it started to be either brew or bottle on a Sunday, never both in one weekend. When my bottle inventory had a few dozen batches on it they started developing beer stone spots that I couldn't remove by normal means so I built a bottle washer which worked great but stretched the bottle cleaning step into an all day thing. Then I started doing bottle wash days without actually bottling any beer and ended up brewing even less frequently. When I realized how much I hated bottles I started planning out my keezer. It was time to jump into kegging or I was going to stop brewing all together.

Now it takes me ~20 minutes to clean a keg on my diy keg washer, then I have a dedicated keg full of StarSan that I push into and back out of the clean keg to flush and sanitize, then I use a liquid disconnect on a bit of tubing to transfer the beer from the fermenter spigot, drop it into the keezer and hook up a dedicated 50psi utility line to force carb for a couple of days before it's ready to serve.

So much less work and that same 5 gallons of StarSan has been used over and over again. Now I brew as often as I feel like it and I can keg a batch on any week night without really planning ahead. If I feel like bottling a batch I'll do it from the tap and avoid the mess and time it takes to bottle condition, and zero sediment in the bottles means they are much easier to clean.
 

D.B.Moody

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I just have to say that I do not understand the hoopla about bottling being hard. I've been bottling since 1994 and never had an infected bottle. I've also never used StarSan or other sanitizer in my bottling.
Bottles are rinsed to remove sediment, run through the dishwasher with other dishes, and stored in the basement until their next use. They are rinsed a bit the might before bottling to get rid of dust that may have settled in. They are rinsed with tap water and drained on a tree over night while the chlorine goes away.
I can't say this is best practice, but it's been good enough for over 25 years.
I'm not saying kegging isn't wonderful, I'm just saying that bottling is easy if you let it be easy.
 

Antonio Martinez

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I just have to say that I do not understand the hoopla about bottling being hard. I've been bottling since 1994 and never had an infected bottle. I've also never used StarSan or other sanitizer in my bottling.
Bottles are rinsed to remove sediment, run through the dishwasher with other dishes, and stored in the basement until their next use. They are rinsed a bit the might before bottling to get rid of dust that may have settled in. They are rinsed with tap water and drained on a tree over night while the chlorine goes away.
I can't say this is best practice, but it's been good enough for over 25 years.
I'm not saying kegging isn't wonderful, I'm just saying that bottling is easy if you let it be easy.
I agree. While I do use Star San, I don't believe bottling is difficult. Time consuming, yes but I think the important thing is to develop a smooth process and setup your bottling station in a way that flows easily from cleaning to filling and capping.
 

cajunrph

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I just did my first Revvy bottling batch today. I did not do the spigot mod because after cutting down the PVC elbow there was some black gunk on the lip of the uncut end of the PVC. A soak in oxyiclean did nothing, wiping it with an adhesive removal pad also didn't work, nor did a hot water wash. I bottled the tilt way. Connecting the bottling wand to the spigot saved my back. I do 2.5-gallon batches and although I didn't time my bottling session, I'd say it took about 30 minutes for the bottling. Maybe about an hour for all of it. I wasn't going to bottle in the kitchen as I ferment in a spare bathroom and didn't want to disturb the yeast too much. It didn't take but a few minutes for the trub to settle down.

I remember from my previous life as a homebrewer, before my divorce-induced hiatus, that we didn't bother cooling down the priming sugar. I allowed to sugar to cool somewhat today, but not down to room temp. The thinking back in the day was that the beer would dilute the sugar and cool it off quickly enough that cooling wasn't needed. I did this today. My after-the-fact analysis got me thinking I hope I did not screw it up dumping in warm priming solution to the bottling bucket. Maybe the change was due to concerns of the sugar precipitating out during the rapid change in temperature. Any thoughts?

My first return batch I learned my new red-winged capper couldn't cap the Guinness type bottles. My LHBS didn't have a bench capper in stock. I know before my hand capper worked on the Guinness bottles. It is in storage in the attic if I have it. IIRC it wasn't a plastic model. Did they change over the years? Anyway, I had a few with a similar neck that snuck in this time and didn't know till they were filled and tried to cap them. I sent them aside and after capping the others, I carefully poured them into bottles with the capable necks. That set me back a few minutes.

I kegged one batch before I called it quits after the divorce. I'll say kegging is easier if you have space and a means of keeping the kegs cold. But there's something about seeing those freshly filled and capped bottles after you are done. Bottling is surely more visually rewarding. At this point, I don't have room for a keezer. And suddenly with this newfound system bottling isn't so hard. With my smaller batches, bottling is the best route for me. Now to go and get all my bottles out of the garage, start brewing, fermenting, and filling them up.
 

Falstaff

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Been thinking about adding another spigot to my bottling bucket so I can do two bottles at once. Also means I have to check two threads for gunk, but it could help over all.
 
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Been thinking about adding another spigot to my bottling bucket so I can do two bottles at once. Also means I have to check two threads for gunk, but it could help over all.
Alternatively you could consider switching to a larger diameter spigot and bottling wand to make filling each bottle go faster, which would shorten your bottling sessions without requiring you to focus on two bottles at once.
 

Falstaff

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Alternatively you could consider switching to a larger diameter spigot and bottling wand to make filling each bottle go faster, which would shorten your bottling sessions without requiring you to focus on two bottles at once.

Do they make larger wands?
 
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Do they make larger wands?
Um, some of us just have big wands. But you could try a wine bottling wand or maybe diy? I'd focus on de-bottlenecking (pun intended) your filling apparatus before trying to fill two simultaneously. Or, if I were to add another bottling spout, I would draft my wife into bottling duty to operate the second one.

Edit: on second thought, the valve at the tip of a bottling wand is definitely the slowest part of the system. If you're willing to either clamp the hose between bottles or flip the lever off each time, the small bleed hole in the spout will allow the beer in the tube to flow down into the bottle as you withdraw the filler tube. Maybe do a test run like that with just water in the bottling bucket, using just a length of tubing in place of the wand, or simply pull the tip off the wand to see if it is any faster.
 
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Falstaff

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Um, some of us just have big wands. But you could try a wine bottling wand or maybe diy? I'd focus on de-bottlenecking (pun intended) your filling apparatus before trying to fill two simultaneously. Or, if I were to add another bottling spout, I would draft my wife into bottling duty to operate the second one.

Edit: on second thought, the valve at the tip of a bottling wand is definitely the slowest part of the system. If you're willing to either clamp the hose between bottles or flip the lever off each time, the small bleed hole in the spout will allow the beer in the tube to flow down into the bottle as you withdraw the filler tube. Maybe do a test run like that with just water in the bottling bucket, using just a length of tubing in place of the wand, or simply pull the tip off the wand to see if it is any faster.
Um, some of us just have big wands. But you could try a wine bottling wand or maybe diy? I'd focus on de-bottlenecking (pun intended) your filling apparatus before trying to fill two simultaneously. Or, if I were to add another bottling spout, I would draft my wife into bottling duty to operate the second one.

Edit: on second thought, the valve at the tip of a bottling wand is definitely the slowest part of the system. If you're willing to either clamp the hose between bottles or flip the lever off each time, the small bleed hole in the spout will allow the beer in the tube to flow down into the bottle as you withdraw the filler tube. Maybe do a test run like that with just water in the bottling bucket, using just a length of tubing in place of the wand, or simply pull the tip off the wand to see if it is any faster.

Usually using my off hand to change songs on my phone. I could use that for another bottle and my wife could be otherwise employed. But we can each do with our hands as they will.
 
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Usually using my off hand to change songs on my phone. I could use that for another bottle and my wife could be otherwise employed. But we can each do with our hands as they will.
Ever heard of a playlist? And if your wife's hands aren't busy, you aren't playing the right kind of music.

In my house, we bottle together at the dishwasher; she fills the bottles and I run the capper while Alexa spins the wax.
 

Walpha

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From my professional point of view, it is possible to use a semi-automatic bottling machine to dispense your liquor or other liquids, I have a video that illustrates this situation very well.


You only need a simple device like this to quickly and safely dispense liquor,
 
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