Reusing Glass Bottles for Bottle Conditioning

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Spinal

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Hello,
I’m very new to brewing… in fact, I got into brewing last time I was picking up supplies and the store owner gave me a muntons brown beer kit… which is now fermenting. I’ve done some wine before, but never beer.

That said - reading the instructions I’m told to put half a teaspoon of sugar into each pint bottle when bottling. Which to me sounds like bottle conditioning…

The issue i have is that most of my bottles are crown cap “single use” glass bottles. Things from drinking beer and stashing the bottles… will these explode? Should I be finding Belgian beer bottles or something more robust?
 

Biggz1313

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I agree with @JohnSand in that pry off bottles are WAY better than twist off at making sure you have a good seal when capping. As far as exploding goes, I wouldn't worry too much as long as you're using the correct amount of priming sugar and you make sure primary fermentation is complete before bottling. Keep in mind your kit instructions say 1/2 tsp per PINT bottle, so you'll need to adjust that sugar amount for a 12oz bottle.
 

Nate R

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will these explode? Should I be finding Belgian beer bottles or something more robust?
As mentioned above- they probably shouldn't, but 'bottle bombs' can happen.
Might be a small fracture of a reused bottle, or even just a little bad luck of too much yeast in one bottle.
Do you have a sealable plastic tub or the like to keep the bottles in? Prevents glass shards from flying about, and helps contain the mess?
Insert Link to the Breaking Bad episode of home brew bottle bombs here?
 

GrowleyMonster

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Hello,
I’m very new to brewing… in fact, I got into brewing last time I was picking up supplies and the store owner gave me a muntons brown beer kit… which is now fermenting. I’ve done some wine before, but never beer.

That said - reading the instructions I’m told to put half a teaspoon of sugar into each pint bottle when bottling. Which to me sounds like bottle conditioning…

The issue i have is that most of my bottles are crown cap “single use” glass bottles. Things from drinking beer and stashing the bottles… will these explode? Should I be finding Belgian beer bottles or something more robust?

Shouldn't explode. They held carbonated beer before, right? Prefer brown glass bottles, because they will block UV better than clear or green glass. Use an online priming sugar calculator. GENERALLY a half tsp of corn sugar shouldn't be a problem with a standard brown glass "single use" 12 oz bottle. Bottle bombs are pretty rare, actually. You are more likely to miscalculate and get a geyser when you open one, or a flat one. Pay attention to what you are doing, and be careful not to double dose a bottle. But even a full tsp "probably" won't give you a bomb, though it might give you a geyser when you open it. A lot depends on fermenting and bottling temp, the specifics of the brew, the yeast you used, so the half tsp thing really is just a rough generalization.

Rather than pour a measure of sugar directly into the bottle, most bottle conditioning brewers make a solution, pour it into a bottling bucket with a spigot near the bottom, then pour the beer in and gently stir. (you don't want to oxygenate at this stage.) Could be that sugar in the bottle, then filling the bottle after CO2 purging them, is better? I usually keg instead of bottling.

You can get heavier bottles, but I would say for your first batch, definitely recycle and keep your expenses down. Re-used commercial bottles are fine for now and maybe forever.

EDIT But be sure to cull out any bottles that use twist-off tops, or any that are chipped, especially at the mouth.
 

GrowleyMonster

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I forgot to mention, serving temp is another factor. Ice cold lager can hold more CO2 in solution than a "just cool" ale. 10 degrees difference in serving temp can be tremendous in how the beer behaves when you open it.
 

Sam_92

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I definitely recommend dosing the entire batch at once. I bring a cup of water to a boil on the stove and then add my measured sugar to it (always accounting for the actual volume of beer I'll be bottling). I let it boil for a minute longer to pasteurize everything and then I add it straight to the fermenter. I'll stir the beer very, very slowly with my auto-siphon and then bottle straight out of primary.

Revvy did an excellent write up of his process here: Bottling Tips for the Homebrewer
 
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Spinal

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Oh wow, that's a lot of helpful replies! Thank you!!!

Luckily (or unluckily, not sure) - twist-off beer bottles here are very rare. It's only crown cap, cork or screw-cap (not sure if that's the right term, like on a PET bottle, but glass). As I bottle and can a fair amount of distillates, I ask all my friends from their empties, so have a fair amount of bottles.... but this is my first "pressurised" bottling batch (and have some sparkling mint wine in another fermenter as an experiment that needs bottling... for which I've been saving all the champagne/prosecco bottles for).

One follow up question - my intention was to transfer from my fermenter to a bottling barrel first (to try to not siphon the yeast sediment). I'm assuming that there will be an unpleasant yeast sediment layer, just like when I ferment mash for distilling? That said, I see Sam_92 bottles directly to the fermenter (and you stir) - does that not stir up the yeast? Or is it totally different for beer?

Now I'm a bit impatient for my next batch of bottle wash to arrive!!
 

davidabcd

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Carefully siphoning from the primary fermenter into a bottling bucket leaves behind almost all of the trub. If you do it right, the yeast cake won't be disturbed hardly at all. Whether you batch prime or bottle prime, you'll get a small amount of sediment in the bottle which is expected. It is the result of the primary sugar fermenting (carbonating) the beer.
Some like to bottle directly from the primary but it seems more trouble than it's worth, the "worth" being less to clean and less oxidation and contamination.
does that not stir up the yeast? Or is it totally different for beer?
 

Sam_92

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I have had a couple batches that oxidized pretty badly from using my bottling bucket, I do 2.5 gallon batches and I'm pretty sure there is more buffering in 5 gallon batches. There is going to be some yeast in your beer bottles that fall out of suspension as it conditions, those yeast are what's creating the carbonation. With a very gentle stir and a careful siphon I have a very light yeast layer that doesn't make it into my beer glass.
 

MaxStout

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If you want to make sure you carbonate to the correct level and reduce the chance of overcarbing (and bottle-bombs), you should weigh the sugar, rather than using volume measurements. The true amount of sugar can vary in a cupful. It's the same principle for why professional bakers weigh their flour, rather than measuring volume.

A scale that weighs to gram resolution or better is a worthwhile investment. (You'll use it for other things, too.)
 
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Spinal

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I have had a couple batches that oxidized pretty badly from using my bottling bucket, I do 2.5 gallon batches and I'm pretty sure there is more buffering in 5 gallon batches. There is going to be some yeast in your beer bottles that fall out of suspension as it conditions, those yeast are what's creating the carbonation. With a very gentle stir and a careful siphon I have a very light yeast layer that doesn't make it into my beer glass.
I didn't consider that... at the moment, I bottle with one of these (Bottle filler enameled with 3 connectors steel cod. E3S - Grifo Marchetti) - which works wonders when bottling wine from demijohns to 75cl bottles. Was planning on going:

Fermentation barrel -> second clean sterilised barrel (to remove yeast + add sugar) -> bottler -> bottles (mix of 33cl, 50cl and 75cl)

Hopefully I don't end up introducing too much O2... What do people use to bottle? Just a pipe, or a bottler thing? Mine is "open" on top (I lost/threw away the lid ages ago)...
 

davidabcd

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Pretty usual, along with tubing that attaches to the top. Auto-siphon. EDIT: Oops--plus the wand as mentioned below.
Oxidation just doesn't occur to any real degree, as it concerns the new brewer, from bottling from a bottling bucket; otherwise, nobody would bottle. Even done carelessly, which I have done, the method produces little to undetectable off-taste after three months. A year? Probably going to get lower quality beer.
Again, this is more for the new brewer.
 
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bruce_the_loon

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I didn't consider that... at the moment, I bottle with one of these (Bottle filler enameled with 3 connectors steel cod. E3S - Grifo Marchetti) - which works wonders when bottling wine from demijohns to 75cl bottles. Was planning on going:

Fermentation barrel -> second clean sterilised barrel (to remove yeast + add sugar) -> bottler -> bottles (mix of 33cl, 50cl and 75cl)

Hopefully I don't end up introducing too much O2... What do people use to bottle? Just a pipe, or a bottler thing? Mine is "open" on top (I lost/threw away the lid ages ago)...

The preferred method is to use a bottling wand attached to a spigot on the bottling barrel. So my process is fermentation barrel -> bottling bucket (adding priming sugar here) -> bottles. The wand has a spring-loaded valve on the tip that pushes against the bottom of the bottle to open it and allow the beer to flow into the bottle. With practice, you can regulate the flow by lowering the bottle slightly to let the valve close.

bottling-NEIPA.jpg


You can also use a suitable flexible tube attached to the spigot, but then you have to control the flow with the spigot itself. Which can lead to overflows if you open the valve too fast or open it instead of closing it. The wand stops as soon as you lower the bottle far enough.
 
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Spinal

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The preferred method is to use a bottling wand attached to a spigot on the bottling barrel. So my process is fermentation barrel -> bottling bucket (adding priming sugar here) -> bottles. The wand has a spring-loaded valve on the tip that pushes against the bottom of the bottle to open it and allow the beer to flow into the bottle. With practice, you can regulate the flow by lowering the bottle slightly to let the valve close.

You can also use a suitable flexible tube attached to the spigot, but then you have to control the flow with the spigot itself. Which can lead to overflows if you open the valve too fast or open it instead of closing it. The wand stops as soon as you lower the bottle far enough.
Those wands are cheap, even here where everything costs an arm and a leg... so ordered one. Though the only one I found has a silicone hose, which I guess doesn't really change much.

I'm fermenting in my smallest barrels that I usually use for fermeting prior to distillation (30liters), and they don't have taps (as for distilling I avoid entirely the bottom when sucking out the wine); so I'll use the old gravity+hose trick to transfer from one barrel to the other.

The manual that came with my extracts says 6-7 days fermentation; but I think I will leave it longer - it's still bubbling away after 6 days... It's got an airlock, and I never open my mash when it's fermenting... so it shouldn't oxidise if I leave it longer.

ncbrewer : thanks for the link - quite a good high level read! Interesting to see the similarities to distillation, but with so much more attention on sterilisation... which makes sense, as you dont hav 100+ proof ethanol to clean it :p

Gonna goto my local store over the weekend (they do brewing and distilling stuff and are very nice), they do malt-extract mixes which is quite cool. As long as you can bring them a recipe, they will mix malt-extracts (and obviously sell the hops) so that you don't need to do all-grain... I think this may be the next thing I try, seems interesting; just need to find a good recipe.

Thanks!
 

JohnSand

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I generally let my beer ferment three weeks, it's always done. I suggest no less than two.
There are plenty of recipes around, in books, magazines, online and here on HBT. In our recipe section you'll find many options. I choose ones with plenty of feedback. Brewing Classic Styles is a great book by two experts, each recipe has an option for extract/steeping or all grain. I remember that the temptation to experiment is strong, but I recommend sticking to proven recipes until you are comfortable with all of the ingredients and processes.
Good luck, keep us posted.
 
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