Green bottles from commercial beer

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impatient one

Mar 18, 2024
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Can you use green bottles for bottling? And can you reuse commercial bottles if you wash and sanitize them? I have found that the tops are different and won't cap like the brown bottles. Is there a different device to use for the green bottle?

Thanks in advance
Even if you can, don’t. Green glass lets in significantly more UV light, which ruins beer through “skunking.” Iso-alpha acids from hops, H2S from fermentation, and UV (and riboflavin plays a role too) make MBT, which tastes like you’re drinking skunk spray. Unless you’re trying to recreate poorly stored import beer (cough-Heineken-cough-Corona), brown glass only.
How are the tops different? Some might use a 29mm crown cap instead of a 26mm cap. Usually it's certain imported stuff.

I think I read somewhere that someone had some bottles that had a ridge below the lip that kept their particular capper from crimping properly. I don't think that's limited to green bottles though.

Green and clear bottles let more UV light in that will skunk them. But if you are storing your beer out of the sun and will be drinking all of it in reasonable time, then it should be no issue.

Yes you can reuse commercial beer bottles. Just clean them good. I use to soak them overnight in a bucket of water with a strong detergent, such as laundry soap. Then clean thoroughly with a bottle brush and rinse real well.

Bottles with twist of tops are best tossed in the recycling bin. IMO
I used green bottles for a long time with no issues. But I had too many bottles so as I didn’t like them aesthetically I dumped them. I still have about 60 clear bottles which when filled with a pale beer or lager look great. Never had any skunking issues, either as we don’t have any skunks or any sun. However as Maxstout says keep your non brown bottles in the dark or shaded from direct sunlight.
I have a set of repurposed green commercial bottles I use for sours. They are the thick bottles. Green can allow skunking if you aren’t careful.
Brown is best. I think that's something everyone can agree on. That said, you may use whatever color you want. Personally, I refrain from sending beer for judging or friends in anything but brown. I will save the green and clear for family or fellow brewers/beer people who know how to store not brown bottles.

My next practice is less popular, but I totally keep a few twist off bottles too. I will use those for when a keg is close to kicking and I want to get another one in its place before a weekend/party/whatnot. I will fill those bottles and reuse the twist cap and put in the fridge for near future consumption. Alternatively, if you have a 3D printer, you can print a swing-top adapter for twist tops. They work like a champ.
I have some green, Grolsch fliptops I use when bottling a beer that will be carbed higher, like Hefeweizens and some Belgians. They're in cardboard boxes. Never had skunking problems.

All other beers go in brown, 12 oz. long necks. I keep those in boxes, too, as UV will eventually get the best of them. Found that out after a few times buying 6-packs that had been sitting under fluorescent lights in a store too long. :(
Green bottles are fine if you keep the bottled beer stored away from sunlight, in darkness is best. I've always used a mix of green and brown bottles. I even use clear bottles from time to time, mostly for mead or cider. Other than twisties vs pop tops, I can't say I ever had an issue with capping green bottles. Some specific brand pop top brown bottles I find from time to time don't cap well. I just toss them once I figure out which bottles they are so I don't always remember which brands don't work.

All my bottles were commercial bottles originally. I've never bought new bottles. Every self-respecting homebrewer should be able to collect enough bottles to package their products. Lean on your friends if you don't drink fast enough! That's actually where I got a lot of my green bottles, from a guy who drank a lot of imports. Kind of my own fault there, he asked me if I needed bottles and I said sure as long as they are pop tops. When he finally gave them to me, it was 2 or 3 six packs of browns and about 4-5 cases of greens!