Before we get into actually bottling our beer I’m go to give you an introduction to bottling home brew. I will talk about the types of bottles available, sourcing and preparing them to be filled.
Types of bottles.
The common types of bottles available are:
- Crown seal pop tops
- Grolsch style flip tops
- PET plastic screw tops
- Glass twist tops (Do not use these)
With all bottles you should only use the dark amber bottles as exposure to light can skunk your beer. When a beer goes skunky or gets light-struck the taste becomes very unpleasant and undrinkable. I could go into how this happens but then would have to use words like isohumulone and dihydroisohumulones! There is definitely no need for that just yet, maybe a good one to get Kevin to write about… (-;
Crown Seal pop top bottles are the most commonly used and readily available. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and are easy to cap. They seal well and are very easy to clean and sanitise.
Grolsch style flip tops are around, but not as widely available as crown seals. With these bottles you need to be careful with the rubber seals as they can wear out and harbour bacteria. These seals need to be replaced every so often and should be inspected before each use. Flip tops bottles can also be a little bit trickier to clean, particularly the rubber seals and cap. I guess a positive about the flip tops is that they add a bit of theatre to cracking open a cold one.
PET Plastic Screw Tops. I already know you’re probably thinking “its sacrilege to put beer in plastic!” but don’t knock it till you try it. I feel these bottles are quite under-rated and have their advantages. I use a few of these bottles to gauge how carbonated the rest of the batch is by squeezing the bottle. Another good thing about plastic is they should not explode if over primed and they can be transported with less chance of breakage.
Glass Twist Tops are used by most large commercial breweries, I don’t recommend you use them for homebrew. You will struggle getting a good seal capping them with crown seal caps and the glass is usually thinner/weaker which I feel is a recipe for disaster.
If you bottle using glass twist tops or clear bottles I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below?
You can purchase most bottle types from home brew stores, but buying empty beer bottles just does not seem right if you ask me. Also if you are purchasing online I couldn’t guarantee they will get to you in one piece. If you’re in a pinch and need bottles in a hurry, by all means go out and buy some.
The only bottles that you will need to purchase if you choose to use them are the amber PET plastic bottles. The plastic bottles I recommended are the Coopers brand that you can get from Dan Murphy’s. If you can’t find them or don’t have a Dan’s you could try the slightly lower quality ones from Big W which I still think are fine.
What I did, was ask my mates whom I know drink pop top style beers, to start collecting them for me. In return, I promised a few full ones back their way, once my operation was in full swing. If any of my mates who collected for me are reading this, don’t worry I haven’t forgotten about you. Ask your mates to give the bottles a good rinse in hot water after drinking the beer. When it comes time to clean them it much more pleasant, I have received a few that hadn’t been rinsed and they were pretty nasty.
Gumtree or local buy swap and sell groups are also another good source for bottles, I know a few people that have picked up a good amount of bottles for cheap. I have also heard of people approaching restaurants or pubs for their used bottles.
My favourite way of collecting bottles was obviously buying full beers and keeping them after consumption. Let’s call it “research and recycle”. I would always keep an eye out on the supermarket dockets that have 6 packs of James Squire for $10. I loved trying lots of amazing different beers just to collect bottles.
I know every time I post I seem to always mention cleaning and sanitising, I’m sorry but it’s just so important and I can’t stress that enough. When I first get bottles I give them a really good soak in Sodium Percarbonate and give them an extremely good scrub with the bottle brush. I usually clean, then sanitise and store my bottles in a sealed box until bottling day where I will sanitise again.
So now you are ready to start bottling your beer. My next post, bottling day, I will guide you through the process.
Do you have any bottling horror stories or any other suggestions on sourcing bottles? Do you have any questions about what I have talked about so far? If so let me know in the comments.