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cowain

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Ok, I have about 4 more weeks of the Belgian Strong Ale in secondary to figure everything out for my bottling plan. This beer is going to be the beer for my wedding in October.

The idea is to make a Chimay Gran Reserve type beer in champagne bottles with corks and all. I suppose there's lots of questions, so if anyone has done this type of bottling before, could you post as much as you can about your experience?

1) Will a simple handheld wine corker get the mushroom corks in the champagne bottles?

2) Has anyone found brown champagne bottles? All I can find is green.

3) Do these need to age on their side to keep the cork moist or can they age vertically? Why?

4) Do I need to soak the corks prior to bottling? I've seen a site that says not to for fear that either bacteria will grow in the cork or that the solution used will impart its flavor into the wine/beer.
 

Mikey

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Don't bother with real cork. You local shop will have the plastic type, plus the wire ties and the little tool for tightening them.
 
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cowain

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I don't want the plastic kind, so that's not an issue. The point is the drama and glamour, which plastic corks detract from.
 

homebrewer_99

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I'm trying to figure out you don't want the plastic corks and you don't want to lay the bottles on their sides using real cork?

If you don't lay the bottles on their sides the real corks will dry out.

As far as I know, you can't have this both ways.

If you use real corks and have the bottles stand up you will (eventually) get a bad seal. Not only that, but when you decide to stand them up the yeast/sediment (now on the side of the bottle) will fall to the bottom of the bottle making a cloud while doing so.

If you use the plastic corks then the sediment will fall to the bottom of the bottle. When you pop a cork you can do one-pours and keep the contents clear/clean as you fill your glasses (leaving the sediment in the bottle).

Anyone else have something to add that I may be missing? I mean, I don't like being wrong, but if I am, please correct me here. Thanks.
 
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cowain

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I wonder about leaving them standing up and having that cause a bad seal. I've never seen Chimay laid on its side and I've never gotten a bottle of that with low carbonation.

Also, clarity/leaving sediment in the bottle isn't an issue because this is a belgian strong (and is quite dark) and it will have been in secondary for about a month and a half before going to bottles, so the sediment should be minimal and only related to the yeast involved in carbonating.

I don't have any problem with aging the bottles on their sides, I just want to know that I need to do so because it's going to be annoying to rig up a rack of some sort for their aging.
 

autoferret

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I dont think that making a rig to store the bottles will be annoying for such a import brew for a important day!

I've been thinking of working on a Belgian for my wedding as well!! Congrats!!
 
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cowain

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autoferret said:
I dont think that making a rig to store the bottles will be annoying for such a import brew for a important day!

I've been thinking of working on a Belgian for my wedding as well!! Congrats!!
True. It won't be that bad, but if I don't have to do it, I don't want to. I guess I'm lazy.

I'll let you know how everything works out with mine and hit you with the recipe if you want me to.
 

Lounge Lizard

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Using Champagne bottles really only leaves you two options as I see it:

1) crown caps -- not very glamorous

2) champagne corks held in place with the wire cages

Nomacork synthetic wine bottle corks are being used a lot by wine makers these days. The bottles wouldn't have to be laid on their sides. The corks seal well and don't dry out. Your problem, is that beer carbonation would probably push the darn things out.
 

autoferret

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I would love the recipe. But i'm leaning more toward a Saison.

So it looks like u will have to do champagne corks held w/ wire cages. Just need to figure out how to get them into the bottle now...
 

80/-

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The french store the bottles at an angle, with the neck downawards and use a "bump and turn" method when aging champagne to ensure that the yeast sediment from the fermentation in the bottle works its way down to settle on the cork/cap.

They then freeze the champagne in the neck of the bottle using a glycol bath, remove the cork/cap and yeast plug and then re-cork.

Sounds like a lot of work but it may be worth it of you are willing to put the work in. The other option may be to use a similar method but to bump and turn in such a way that the yeast works its way down the bottle, whilst the cork is kept wet by the beer

HTH

80/-
 

m_f

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80/- said:
The french store the bottles at an angle, with the neck downawards and use a "bump and turn" method when aging champagne to ensure that the yeast sediment from the fermentation in the bottle works its way down to settle on the cork/cap.

They then freeze the champagne in the neck of the bottle using a glycol bath, remove the cork/cap and yeast plug and then re-cork.

Sounds like a lot of work but it may be worth it of you are willing to put the work in. The other option may be to use a similar method but to bump and turn in such a way that the yeast works its way down the bottle, whilst the cork is kept wet by the beer

HTH

80/-
right on!
a link with a detail of the champenoise method applied to mead...
http://www.meadmadecomplicated.org/mead_making/recipes/sparkling.html

and it is a lot of work too!
 
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cowain

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any winemakers out there have an opinion on soaking corks or not prior to bottling? I think I saw a thread by Loungelizard where he said not to.
 

Lounge Lizard

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cowain said:
any winemakers out there have an opinion on soaking corks or not prior to bottling? I think I saw a thread by Loungelizard where he said not to.

Tim Vandergriff of Winexpert fame says it is always the wrong thing to do. I don't know one way or the other, especially when it comes to synthetic corks like I plan on using. I don't see how a quick dip in One Step could hurt anything when using them. Here is the thread that you were referring to.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=6736
 
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cowain

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Thanks man. I think I'll probably give them a quick dip in some boiled and then chilled water or something like that.
 
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