If you have just started a batch of homebrew it could be many weeks before you even have to worry about bottling it. When it comes to producing the best quality beer bottling is a fine touch that many brewers can use to preserve the quality of their beer. This process is actually one of the most time-consuming as far as labor goes. While fermentation usually just involves checking in on the beer, bottling requires painstakingly filling bottles until the beer you have created is gone and packaged.
Here are some of the best tips when it comes to bottling and what you should expect using each style of bottle.
PET style plastic bottles are an option but glass bottles win
PET style plastic bottles are the same thing that you might get a 2 litre bottle of pop in or another drink. These bottles can often be excellent for bottling but they need to be heavily sanitized. Sugars from pop or other drinks can really spoil beer fast and this can create some supreme difficulty when idling in reused PET style bottles. These bottles are cheaper to find but occasionally they can be more fragile when pressure builds up inside of them.
This can give a strong argument for using glass bottles instead.
Once you open these larger bottles as well beer will spoil after just 1-2 days wheras a fliptop container can generally come in smaller sizes.
A keg can also usually keep the beer for a much longer amount of time due to its seal.
Darker bottles are better
In the debate of clear or Amber bottles, a darker style bottle will often prevent skunking after the beer has been bottled. If light enters into the bottles of beer before it has had time to properly age, this can often lead to a skunked flavor which is not ideal especially after you have spent weeks aging your beer. Darker colored bottles are often better but the ideal way to prevent this issue from occurring is making sure that all of the bottles you are putting together are kept in a dark and cool place. After you have finished bottling, whether you are using clear bottles or darker bottles ensure that your beer can remain out of the light for some time and in a temperature controlled environment.
Fliptop bottles are handy
Flip top bottles are nice because you can take the entire aspect of a bottling device out of the equation. Many of these larger bottles are much easier to seal for homebrew and they can be regularly recycled. By ensuring that caps are firmly shut you can continually bottled beer in the same sanitized bottles witout having to worry about a sealing on a cap. Flip top seals should likely be replaced with every batch in order to maintain a proper seal. Some home brewers even use Saran wrap or shrink wrap around the seal to ensure the beer can stay sealed during the aging process.
Avoid screw tops
Screw top bottles can be extremely difficult to seal once again. The threads on screw tops are relatively fragile and if you have been collecting them you could have a really tough time actually placing a cap back on this style bottle. While this is a fairly popular bottle style for many of the big brewers, it’s very difficult for home brewers to reuse these bottles. If you are planning on using screw cap style bottles make sure that you are using plastic bottles which can be easily resealed or brand-new screwtop bottles with a professional bottler. Ensuring a proper seal will be the only way to protect your beer during the process.
The sanitization question
If you are planning on reusing beer bottles from a previous homebrew or that you have been collecting it’s important to properly sanitize each of the bottles as well as all of the bottle caps that you are planning on using. Bacteria can grow rather quickly if one particular bottle was not properly sanitized. Be sure that you follow all proper sanitization techniques and that the bottle you have has been soaked and cleaned using the right sanitization solution. The same sanitizing will also need to take place with any new bottles that you have purchased. Even if they say that they have come pre-sanitized it is much easier to wash them out than to wait weeks on end aging your beer only to have it skunked from poor sanitizing.
Kegging homebrew is one of the most effective ways that you can carbonate and age beer. This can be a little more than expensive process but many avid home brewers prefer this is you don’t have to spend a long time bottling. You will have to first sanitize the entire keg through disassembly and reassembling, setting up a carbon dioxide to maintain pressure within the keg as well as maintain a process for filling and sealing the keg with a 10 to 12 psi pump. A 5 gallon keg could be all that you need to easily age and seal off an entire small homebrewing kit.
When picking out homebrew bottles it seems as though the clear winner for convenience, volume and quality is a brown or dark glass bottle. You could potentially improve some convenience with a fliptop cap it’s just very important that you check each one to make sure it is well sealed before storing it.
For bottling in volume
If you have a beer kit that is at 5 gallons or above you should strongly consider using swing top bottles or a professional bottler. Keep in mind that 5 gallons of homebrew beer will require at least 54 of the standard 12 ounce beer bottles. This can be a lengthy process during the bottling and if you have a kit that is even larger than that for you brew regularly, you may want to consider getting some professional bottling tools. When you are bottling in this kind of volume you may also be tempted to use larger bottles and perhaps even plastic bottles.