Your Source of Bottles?

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Well-Known Member
Dec 21, 2007
Reaction score
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin
So I have been answering the same question about finding bottles a lot and am now wondering how the rest of the homebrew nation gets their bottles.

I live in Wisconsin and get all my bottles from the liquor store. Returnable bottled beer is still fairly popular here so I can just stop by my local liquor store and pick up a few cases of empty returnables for $1.20 a case. They are super nice, the labels come off very easily, and they come in a very durable heavy gauge cardboard box. I prefer Point Special bottles.

I would like to hear if any other states have returnables and if you don't, where do you get cases and cases of bottles. If I had to drink a beer for every beer I bottled I would be in trouble:drunk:

Maybe the top 10 sources for cheap, high quality bottles would be a good sticky...?

I run a bottling line at my brewery and get all the free bottles I want or need. They also come with beer in them...


I actually prefer the 16 oz bottles (you get to drink a pint +/- the sediment) and bought two cases when I first started brewing. I keg mostly now and bottle the keepers in 16 oz'ers and the give aways in the free, work bottles.
I am just starting to get bottles (new brewer). I was going to try bartenders, but I just called my LHBS yesterday out of curiousity and they sell 12 oz. cases for $5.00, so I might just do that and save the hassel.
I did do some dumpster diving in my time, but now, I take out the trash at my local bar on saterday AM.
just spread the word to friends and co-workers and you will have bottles headed your way for weeks
(I had to tell them to lay off after a while)
(4) cases of 22oz bottles along with a bunch of Grolsch bottles came with the original equipment I bought from a guy on Craigslist.

(4) cases of 22 oz bottles came from another guy on craigslist.

I emptied the 12 oz collection on my own though.
I am getting a ton of wine and beer bottle from my local boat club. You know how much boaters drink. Anyway, wine bottles are free and I pay the $0.10 deposit for what ever I want in beer bottles. Stupid Michigan deposit!!! But, every bar has to save them so it works out well. You can pick and choose only the finest.
I'm 21 and I live with 9 roommates. We live in Iowa, a state that requires bottle deposits we have always had them laying around.

I had 100 bottles before I even brewed my first batch.:mug:
I tend to drain my own 12's, and for 22's, I get all I need by keeping a couple of local bar managers supplied with homebrew who serve Goose Island and Fat Tire in bombers in their establishments. I get a case or two every couple of weeks that way...
most of em, I empty myself.

I picked up a few grolsch style bottles at auctions.

when i was in the planning stages of brewing, i started saving bottles. had quite the collection, but thinned them out a good bit by tossing the screw style bottles.

now, if I attend a get together or party, I can usually get a case or two of useable bottles.
I posted a want ad on Freecycle for brown glass pry-top beer bottles, and got a response in 2 days. I got about 80 12 ouncers, 54 22oz, plus a case and a half of green champage bottles, and about 20 clear pry-top unmarked soda bottles. A lady had them sitting in her garage.

All had the labels already removed, but I did an oxyclean soak and a couple of dishwasher cycles just to clean them up, and they are good as new.

I'd say Freecycle or Craigslist are your best bets.
Last post was two years ago (10 post total) and now today alone with mine eleven posts. WOW!

I'll contribute...I am overly anal I recon. At first I had my brother in law save some for me and had seen old residue in some of them. That was when I first started brewing.

Since then I only bottle for gifts or emptying a keg, I now only use my own bottles. They have never touched a lip, and get rinsed immediately. Everyone that asks if I want the old bottles back, I tell them once they leave my sight they are dead to me.

Wine bottles I buy at LHBS, and reuse both wine and beer bottles that I know where they have been.

"One anal bottler"

- Emptied my own.
- Rooted through recycle bins (right by a college and the afterhours drop at the county center).
- craigslist
- freecyle
- Owner of local brewpub said they can't 'give out their trash' but an employee will set a bag or two next to the dumpster if i come in and ask..their dumpster is locked in a cage. (this is my best source - with it being a brewpub, they sell primarily microbrews)
- A local restaurant - they don't have a license to sell but they allow people to bring in their own beer and wine (a little odd especially since it's such a nice place.. they even rinse the bottles, put them in boxes, and call me when they are full)

Short of the beer I make, my friends all drink beers in twist off bottles or cans so they're no help.

Rough totals are:
1300 12oz bottles (I stopped counting at 800 but have picked up a few bags since)
80 22oz bottles
90 750ml bottles
10 Magnums
2 double bags
15 Carlo Rossi bottles (4 liter, 5 liter.. whatever they are)
25 swing tops

I'm done.. rather the wife says I'm done collecting bottles for a while - 12oz bottles anyways. I'm limiting any 'new inventory' to swing tops and maybe some more bombers. All this was collected in about a 6 week period. I've only bottled 6 gallons of beer so far with another 16 in buckets (counting apfelwine).. I need to step it up to fill these guys up. :drunk:
I have a party and buy a couple cases of cheap kirkland beer... people love it and i get easily de-labeled bottles with a decent shape and no imprinting in the glass. Only thing is people seem to love it more when I let them drink my beer... have to get my bottles somehow though, nothing like not being able to brew more, because you have beer waiting in your fermenter because you haven't drank enough beer.
I get bottles from a restaraunt down the street, they just leave em out back...
But my LHBS sells 24 12oz or 12 22oz cases for $8.
When I bought my carboys and gear I also bought two cases of empty brown 12 oz bottles. As we have ramped up our brewing I have needed more bottles. I find that I can buy very nice brown Bass Ale bottles at a local store for exactly the cost of buying empty bottles (including shipping). I do have to drink the Bass ale inside the bottles, which has delayed our brewing slightly, but one must make sacrifices.

Latest posts