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Carbonating juice in its original containers

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Ethos

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I just got into homebrewing and my first beer, a simple all grain APA, went into bottles last night. I don't have enough bottles to have two 5 gallon batches carbing at once, so I thought I would try doing a simple apple juice concoction in between batches.
I went ahead and put 5 gallons of Langers apple juice into my primary as soon as it was available last night, added two pounds of boiled dextrose and then pitched a packet of S-04. My plan is to save the plastic bottles the juice came in so that I have somewhere to put this when it is done.
Originally I had decided to just fill the bottles and then crash them in the fridge, but now I am leaning towards trying to carb half of them. I figure if I rack into the bottles when I get to about 1.02 SG I should be able to put half of those in the fridge as a fairly sweet finished product and keep the other half at 70 degrees to carb without adding any more sugar.
The bottles that this juice came in are likely not designed to hold a pressurized product. Is there any chance that I will be able to carb these without causing any explosions? The bottles have a soft gasket like the ones you see on soda bottles. I'm thinking I should be able to judge how carbed the bottles are by squeezing them, so I should be able to move them to the fridge when they feel full. Does anyone have any experience carbing in plastic juice bottles like this? Any thoughts would be appreciated.
 

Mirage

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It sounds like you are making a variation of Apfelwein. We just made some, and just left it uncarbed (we are lazy). You can add sprite (if you want it sweet) or just use seltzer if you want it carbed. That is what we are planning on doing as it saves that whole process (we made 10 gallons so that would be a lot of carbing).
 
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Ethos

Ethos

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Yeah, I started with EdWort's apfelwein recipe, but I didn't want to tie-up my primary for 4 weeks. I'm hoping that by using the Safale S-04 and racking at 1.02 SG I will be able to get the fermentation down to two weeks or so. That will free up my primary for a milk stout I have been thinking about for awhile now.

I'll probably try carbing at least a few half-gallons as an experiment. I'll just keep them in garbage bags while they carb to minimize the damage if one pops. I'll report back here with the results in a few weeks.
 

david_42

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I doubt the juice bottles can handle much pressure. PET soda bottles are the way to go.
 
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Ethos

Ethos

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That makes more sense. While I don't have any soda bottles, I'm sure someone I know does. Thanks for the suggestions, guys.
 

nickmpower

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I have put at least 50 gallons back in to the juice bottles. I dont intentionally carb but it happens sometimes anyways when i bottle too soon. The juice bottles (at least the ones i get) are made out of the same plastic that soda bottles are. They will deform like you would not believe but i have yet to have one explode.
 

eelpout

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They will deform like you would not believe but i have yet to have one explode.
when one does explode you will be amazed at how much damage a plastic bottle does to windows and other things that shatter and bleed easily.
 
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Ethos

Ethos

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Well, I took a hydrometer reading yesterday and it was already at 1.02 so I went ahead and bottled in the original juice containers after only 7 days of fermentation. Because it was still actively fermenting I racked straight into the bottles without adding any priming sugar. Half of the bottles went into the fridge to crash and the other half went into garbage bags to carb.

I'm pretty happy with the flavor. There is enough sugar left to impart some apple but it isn't cloyingly sweet like some commercial ciders. My friend who was giving me a hand with the bottling felt like it would be better if it dried out a little more.

I plan on checking the carbonating bottles every 8 hours or so and then crashing them when they feel full. Hopefully that is frequent enough to spare my pantry a minor explosion while I'm at work.

So far I'm pretty happy with this little experiment. A decent 5-6% abv beverage with a 7 day turnaround and very little effort seems like a good way to occupy your primary between beers. I'll report back with carbonation details when I have them.
 

Fletch78

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There is a new product out of Australia that I read about here a few weeks ago, they are pressure release caps that screw onto 2 liter bottles and the pressure is set so the optimal amount of carbonation is reached and then it releases excess. I can't remember the name of the company, but I think it started with a Z.
 
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Ethos

Ethos

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Well, all of these are either in the fridge or consumed now. The bottles I left to carb swelled up real nice, but after crashing them in the fridge I can't see any evidence of carbonation when I pour a glass. It does taste a little carbonated, but it is possible that it just dried out a bit.

I'm not sure what to blame here. It is possible that the bottles slowly leaked the CO2 that was generated while they were supposed to be carbing. It is also possible that when I racked off of the yeast cake without adding any new sugar I managed to slow fermentation enough that they couldn't fully carb. Either way this is a failed experiment despite the fact that nothing exploded.
 
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