Re: Bottlers, how many do you keep on hand?

Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:35 pm

Duzdisluk Infektid wrote:I am up to 7 cases. I had to build some wooden boxes for them this weekend as the mix of cardboard 6 &12 packs were becoming difficult to handle. There's a good DIY thread on another forum that uses cheap as can be lath materials.

I just got into HB this year, so the main reason I'm bottling is to keep my start up cost low. My next capital investements will probably go to brewing and fermenting equipment improvement, so I don't see making any hyperspace jumps to cornies and all that come with them any time soon. Yes, the de-labeling, cleaning, sanitizing, sorting, storage and filling is a lot of work, but it's work that I enjoy, at least at the 5 gallon batch level of production. I'm Damo like that.

Some things I've noticed about bottling:

    *It's a good idea to have a big bucket/cooler around at all times full of PBW water. As soon as you turn that beer up, rinse and submerge.
    * Every day when you do the dishes, pull your soaking bottles out and scrub off any label residue. Most of the labels just fall off on their own after a day in PBW. Stick in dishwasher.
    * Bottles come in far more shapes and sizes than I previously realized. Keep em sorted early on if you care about such things.
    * Sierra Nevada bottles have big butts and don't fit in most other brands casepacks.
    * Drakes bottle labels aren't paper. They're some sort of plastic/mylar type of deal. Soaking does nothing to remove them, so don't cut your nails too short.
    * I have waited far too long to purchase a bottle tree.
    * Carbonation tabs are the way to go.
    * Storing bottles right side up without drip drying is an invitation for all manner of nasties. Earwigs included.
    * I hate earwigs.
    * de-labeling beer bottles is the coolest thing in the world to an 18 MO.
    * Bottling wastes a crap-ton of water.
    * I am addicted to saving beer bottles. I have more than I need, but I can't stop saving.
    * As a homebrewer, I'm more likely to choose a commercial beer that comes in a bottle with no distinguishing makers marks. Just in case I brew something comp. worthy.
    * Higher gravity Belgians take a long freakin time to fully carbonate.
    * I am conflicted about drinking 21A beer since I'm not getting any bottles out of the deal. Can't stay away from Brew Free or Die though.

Good tips.

I have four or five cases of bombers for big beers, like barleywines; a case of Belgian style bottles, and about 6 cases of regular bottles. I generally keg, though.
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Re: Bottlers, how many do you keep on hand?

Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:15 pm

Ozwald wrote:I used to be in the same boat. I had the large sink in the laundry room set up as a part of my bottle cleaning line & filled with either bleach water or PBW 24/7. I used the bleach water since I was living in a tiny mountain town & was getting a lot of bottles from the bars in town & wasn't about to take any chances.

Now that I have a dozen cornies or so I don't keep as many on hand, and I don't bother reusing them. If you have a brewery that's buying multiple pallets of glass at a time, they'll usually fill a case or three for pretty cheap - I think I was getting them for $2-4/case IIRC. I have a case or two of bombers somewhere around here, and my treasured swingtops - they're either 1L or 1.5L, I forget off hand.

I also saw you're cleaning them in the dishwasher. I'll lend you a piece of advice I had to learn the hard way. Make sure there's no drying agents (Jetdry, etc.) in there. My ex put some in there without telling me once. Didn't find out for a couple weeks until I had to throw out an entire batch that had already been bottled & naturally carbed.

Hmm. I've bottled and drank 4 cases using this method and didn't have any issues, but maybe I've just been lucky? Jet Dry to boot.
I'm rinsing all of my bottles as soon as their emptied, and at the risk of overstating the obvious, I am also sanitizing as a seperate process just prior to bottling.

I agree about not much water being able to get inside. The heat and 100% humidity is what I'm relying on, I guess. It's probably better off not getting a ton of detergent and sheeting agents in there.
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Re: Bottlers, how many do you keep on hand?

Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:28 am

spiderwrangler wrote:
Ozwald wrote:I also saw you're cleaning them in the dishwasher.

I'm against dishwashers as a means of cleaning bottles. I'm sure the outside get's clean, but I just can't bring myself to trust that enough water gets up through the neck of the bottle to reliably clean what's in there, not to mention the tiny bits of stuff that may be left over down in the machine itself that I don't want recircing all over my bottles...

The idea is to utilize the steam. I wouldn't recommend it in most cases either, but my last place had some pretty pimp appliances. I used to joke you needed a pilot's license just to read the instrumentation on the stove/oven. My dishwasher had a sanitize cycle which I tested with a remote thermometer & found that it was just fine for sanitizing (not cleaning) the bottles. It was just a matter of cleaning them on my 'line' in the laundry room, and loading them up to sanitize.

The trick I learned while bottling was to set the bottling bucket over the dishwasher's open door. Not only were my bottles all ready for me to grab & fill, but all the drips fell onto the inside of the door. As soon as I'm done bottling, close the dishwasher, run a short cycle & I'm cleaned up. No wiping down counters, mopping, etc. My 'new' dishwasher (they still make harvest gold appliances, right?) isn't to be trusted, so I sanitize the bottles next to the dishwasher & still use the door as my drip plate.

That's the only reason I wouldn't be too quick to say never use a dishwasher for your bottles. There are some pretty techie models out there. If you keep one clean & rinse agent free, you have some options but you've got to have a solid process down.

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Re: Bottlers, how many do you keep on hand?

Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:14 am

Sanitizing =/= cleaning though... I use it as a drying rack/bottling drip catcher, after spraying all the posts down with Star San, but would never run bottles through it to clean.
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Re: Bottlers, how many do you keep on hand?

Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:11 am

-I use the dishwasher rack as a bottle tree.
-That thing you press the bottle down on and shoots starsan up into the bottle is a must have brewing toy.
-Larger bottles retain better flavor long term. imho. less chance of oxidation. less surface area to add starsan flavor. Less hop aroma stolen by bottle cap.

I probably have 10 cases now.

I started collecting from friends who drank Corona just so I wouldn't have to peel labels.
I kept every bottle I drank. I stopped peeling labels and just rinsed after pouring in glass. Never soap, just star san and refill.

Last month I needed to clean out the garage. The bottles everywhere situation was ridiculous. I was up to 20 or 30 cases. It was very liberating. I was glad they still had returnable labels on them because I scored 2 cases of beer with the money.

I now keep the 10 cases up in a loft away from view in the garage.

One nice thing about bottling vs kegging is that it is very easy to have a beer laying around for 2 years. I really enjoy being able to sit on bottles. You can say you will bottle up kegged beer for storage, but it never really happens.
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Re: Bottlers, how many do you keep on hand?

Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:00 pm

Ikea sells clear 1 liter swingtops. They used to be made in Italy, now they are made in China and not as well made... The bales are smaller gauge wire and don't seal well. You can get giant cardboard six-pack holders for free there, too.

I can load my dishwasher with 20 or so of these and bottle 5 gallons very quickly. I think I have about 30 of them, but I am a bit of a bottle hoarder...

I also have a case of 16 oz. swingtops, 2 cases of 22's, 2 cases of 750 ml Martinelli's sparking cider bottles, about 60 12 oz bottles, and about 10 growlers. I usually use the 1 liters, then the 16 oz. swingtops, then the cider bottles, and save the 12 oz. bottles for my Christmas party because I don't care if they get broken, recycled, or used as an ashtray.
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Re: Bottlers, how many do you keep on hand?

Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:32 pm

Well, I haven't stopped collecting since posting this thread, but I have stopped counting! Haha.

I'm also working on a collection of 22's...up to 19. I haven't peeled labels on those yet though because they are my trophy beers! Once I get up close to 30 of them I'll use them for a 5 gal batch. Stone and Rogue are nice as they are painted on.
I'm going to build a wood case box for the 22's similar to what I did for the 12's, but it will be square in a 5x5 config. That ends up a few bottles short of a full 5 gallon batch, but takes up much less space than two 12oz cases.
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Re: Bottlers, how many do you keep on hand?

Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:33 pm

I only keep one bottler on hand. I've used it since I started brewing in 1999. If the handle ever snapped halfway through bottling, I'd be screwed.
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