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I think my capper is destroying my bottles

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Cur

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A couple weeks ago, my boyfriend and I were bottling our third batch of beer when our bottles kept cracking when we capped them. We use the standard red capper that I think comes in most kits. Basically, we started bottling, the first ten or so capped just fine, and then when I capped one I heard a crack and when I released the capper, it held on to both the cap and the upper part of the neck of the bottle that had broken off. I figured my technique was to blame so I was more careful with the next, but it kept happening. Then my boyfriend took over and it happened to him too. We tried using different kinds of caps we had laying around which actually did seem to make a difference (fortunately we were able to finish bottling). Has anyone had this problem before? I'm not sure if it's our capper, the caps, the bottles, or me to blame.
 
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I usually break a bottle or two every other batch.

I think the key is to have the capper at a high enough elevation (counter top or something) do your energy isn't pushing down to hard. And also not pushing the wings down too far may help.

Another thing to look at is how you're cleaning/storing bottles.....
 

ArcaneXor

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I've had a handful of bottles break when I applied too much pressure. Some bottle types also aren't suited for hand cappers and are more likely to break than others.
 

RogerMcAllen

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I think the key is to have the capper at a high enough elevation (counter top or something) do your energy isn't pushing down to hard. And also not pushing the wings down too far may help.
This was the problem I used to have. I haven't broken a single bottle (knock on wood) since I started making a conscious effort to only turn the handles and not push down on the bottle.
 

bknifefight

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I've never had this happen. What kind of bottles are they? I'm glad to hear that you were able to finish capping though! When doing my third batch I probably only had just enough bottles for 5 gallons.
 

LVBen

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I've never had any cracks or breaks. I've heard of lots of problems with wing cappers, but I haven't had any of them. My red wing capper works great!
 

BeantownR6

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probably due to weak bottles.

my bottle stash consists of sam adams, sierra nevada, and DFH and a few new castle and corona bottles because i always bottle a clear one just to see how it looks. 22 oz bombers seem to be sturdy as well. this bottles are strong and ive never broken one.

anyways ive had fat tire bottles break on me so i threw them out. those bottles are thin and weak.

what bottles are you using?
 

midfielder5

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if too much pressure is applied, the tops of the some bottles will shear off. i am 75% sure it was Anchor Steam.

it sucks.
i fired that person doing the capping :)

and have stopped saving those bottles.
 
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Cur

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We have a pretty varied selection of bottles and I've lost track of which are which, but among them are those short lagunitas bottles, some fat tire, dogfishhead, bells, some local breweries, etc. I guess this could be where part of the problem is. I hadn't really thought of different companies using different qualities of bottles. I'll be sure to drink lots of Sam Adams before we bottle our next batch :) Thank you all for the tips!
 

tom777

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I've had this happen on a couple bottles back when my wife used to help me bottle. I think she just pushed down too hard when capping Haven't had a bottle break on me in a long time now.
 

JuanMoore

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Probably too much pressure, but could be the capper. I have several red wing style cappers, and one of them had a burr on one of the metal neck grabber plates when I got it. It would scratch the glass weakening it, and caused several bottles to break before I figured out what was going on.
 

fifelee

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Not sure if there is a correlation, but it seems that I broke more bottles when the bell was unscrewed a few rounds on my capper. Make sure it is tight.
 

dzlater

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I had a few crack last time I bottled.
I had the bottles in the cold garage
and brought them in the house and
put them in a sink full of hot water
I think maybe I stressed out the glass
going from cold to hot??
 

ElTacoLoco

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I have to agree with BeantownR6, I've had the same problem with New Belgium bottles. I began weighing my various empty bottles, and found that they ranged in weight from 186g to about 230g for a 12 oz. bottles. Sure enough the new belgium bottles were on the low end of the scale. I no longer use bottles that come in under 210g, and haven't had a bottle break since. (by capping at least)
 

ChshreCat

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I was having that happen to me. One or two per batch. Finally noticed that is was always the New Belgium bottles. I threw those out and haven't had it happen since.

Some folks on here with wing cappers (what I have) love new Belgium, so I'm guessing it varies with cappers. Mine just doesn't like NB bottles. In the future, try to keep track of what kind of bottles it's breaking and see if there's a correlation.

That, and what folks said about pressure. You don't want to push down when you use the capper. Just turn the handles in your hands as if you were bending something in the air. When I cap a bottle, I end up with the bottle coming up off the floor rather than the capper pushing down on the bottle.
 

jbambuti

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I recently switched to a bench capper and don't have any more problems with bottles. Not sure if this is an option for you, but if it is, you'll love it. It also makes bottling go much faster.
 

Cliff897

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brrman

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yeah - my wing capper destroyed a couple bottle every batch. The Colonna I have now hasn't damaged one in the year I've owned it.
 

TBrosBrewing

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Never had the problem with a bench capper.

But, on the subject of thin bottles, before I use a type of bottle I always weight it vs. other bottles I'm already using with my kitchen scale I use for hops. I don't use Sam Adams or New Belgium bottles for this reason. I have found that most US made embossed bottles are thinner and therefore lighter in weight than the standard no frills brown bottle. But no worries with the German ones those are all really heavy compared to most US bottles.
 

cheezydemon3

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Believe it or not....Dos Equis bottles need no pressure to cap and rule. Unfortunately they are not cheap and not my favorite beer.

I found that raising the bottle off of whatever surface with the capper reduced cracking.

There are weak bottles of any type, I find that re-use eliminates the weak ones (unfortunately, at bottling) and leaves you with good ones.
 

camiller

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I've used lots of fat tire bottles over many batches of beer (as well as sam adams and others) and my wife only managed to break two but I don't even know which kind they were. I'm pretty sure she does not put much downward pressure on the bottle but rather "turns" the handles.

Mostly I keg now but we did just bottle four cases in January and did not break a single bottle.
 

bf514921

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I found that budweiser american ale bottles did the same thing to me after 1 use. weak bottles
 

Homercidal

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I have not had one break yet, but I still prefer my bench capper for doing a batch of beer. The wing capper is handy for when you want to have a taste of a beer and maybe save the rest for later, or maybe you want to cap something else in a beer bottle, like yeast or what have you. The wing capper is handy in the drawer.

Honestly, if you are capping a lot of bottles, the bench capper is not very expensive and well worth the money.
 

beerjunky828

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I have only broken 2 to 5 bottles out of well over a 1000. I will echo what everyone else has said about not pushing down. Let the capper do the work. I think the reason I had bottles break was because they had been dinged around and the glass had become brittle over time.
 
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