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Thread: Bottle question

  1. Default Bottle question

    Hello! New to mead-making, and looking forward to (hopefully) starting my first batch in the next month or so once I get my hands on the remaining bits of equipment I need to start. Thank you so much, this site has been wonderfully informative!

    Now, there's one question to which a concrete answer is eluding me even with my researching. I don't really want to start my first batch until I know the answer, as it involves bottling and there isn't much point in brewing if I don't have a means to store it when it's finished!

    I know that a variety of bottles can be used for mead. My preference is to use 750ml sized bottles, as I'm more inclined to use that much in a short period of time when I do break a bottle open. Beer bottles would be more of a hassle than I really want to deal with at this point. Corking would be my preference for sealing said bottles.

    Now, seeing as wine bottles are going to take some time to scrounge, I had a thought. I know that I can get suitable sized bottles if I buy and use the Perrier water knock-off the local grocery store carries. However, they've got screw-on caps. Can these be used with corks, or any other method of sealing bottles? If it makes any difference, I'm in Canada (as in my looking for answers, there sounds like there could be a difference in bottles of Canadian manufacture and American manufacture). I also plan on seeing if there are any sparking grape juice/non-alcoholic drinks available there that do have a definitely cork-friendly bottle.

    I've been having a hard time coming across a straight answer to whether this kind of bottle can be used or not, so I'd appreciate any useful advice you might have.

  2. Default Re: Bottle question

    My first several batches of JAO went into "pre-used" liquor bottles all with plastic screw caps. They worked fine though I didn't let any go past about six months (not for fear of seal quality....I got thirsty ) May I ask why you feel beer bottles would be a hassle? Hand held cappers are pretty cheap and work OK and caps are cheap as well. If you drink beer(as I do) bottles are already bought and paid for (same can be said if you drink wine) 12 oz is a very convienient size and the 22 oz bombers can be convienient as well There are numerous threads about both bottles and closures which I'd encourage you to read. Your needs (term of storage, controlled oxidation/maturation through cork, desired presentation, etc) vs. what is available might be your guide. I wouldn't be the least bit afraid to use the glass water bottles and their screw caps (properly sanitized of course) for shorter term storage and would invest a few bottles worth for longer term storage as well

  3. Default Re: Bottle question

    You can also buy new (unused) wine bottles from brewing supply places. You might even be able to convince some restaurant or bar to give you their empties. Either of those is less expensive than buying bottled water just to pour it out.

  4. Default Re: Bottle question

    My biggest hurdle to getting bottles the way most people do is that I'm in a small town. There's no brewery supply place, and the restaurants and bars aren't likely to give up their bottles, especially since they now get money for returning the empties. Tomorrow I plan on stopping by the store where the empties get returned to see if they'd be willing to sell some to me. Here's hoping!

    There are a few reasons why I'm not so keen on beer bottles at this point (later on, I won't have a problem though). First, I'd have a hard time getting enough together for bottling. My family and friends aren't big beer drinkers, and when they do drink beer, it's typically cans rather than bottles (as I'll be doing JAO for my first batch, getting enough in time is a concern). Second is storage. With the space available, the wine bottles would be easy to store - the many, many beer bottles, not so much as I lack sufficient shelving and suitable space for more shelving. Third is the fact that I'll be moving by early summer next year, and packing up a ton of beer bottles would be more of a pain than a smaller number of wine bottles.

    The cork appeals to me because of the presentation and qualities it adds to the maturation, but if the screw-on won't cause any significant problems I may stick with that for my first batch. The bottles of water I mentioned go for about $8 for a bulk pack of 12, and the water would get used up rather than dumped down the sink. Thank you, I now feel better if it comes to using those with the screw-on caps!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Bottle question

    Here's something else to think about:

    I have done 2 side-by-side experiments so my data is by no means exhaustive.

    In planning for bottles to send off to competitions, I have bottled some mead into 12 oz. beer bottles and sealed them with the metal crown cap. Then gone ahead and bottled the rest of the mead in 750 ml bottles sealed with cork.

    In both cases after a couple of months when I have opened and tasted the two mead, the corked mead has been SIGNIFICANTLY different than the crown capped mead.

    The mead under the crown cap has changed very little from the way it tasted when bottled, again both times. While the mead in the corked bottle has become (to me) better. More complex, more mature, more better-er.

    Don't have any explaination, just observation. I am also not talking years of ageing. This is mostly after just a couple of months. I have a couple of crown capped bottles of a mead that I bottled about a year ago but am holding on to it until the IMF.

    I plan on bringing it to have more experienced palates taste the mead from the two differently sealed bottles.

    It's all just some sort of magic. *grin*

    Leonora

    P.S. I have heard from other brewers that the screw top bottles are less sturdy. Be careful if you decide to cork them. I'd try a few filled with water just to make sure so as to not waste your precious mead if the bottle won't take the pressure of the corking process.
    "Spanky, Sparky, Buckwheat the Fourteenth - doing the right thing starts first thing in the morning, not after you are caught." -- John Criton FarScape

  6. Default Re: Bottle question

    You can also buy them online and have them sent to you. Most online brewing materials sources sell bottles, although the selection is limited.

    For example: http://morewinemaking.com/search/102717

    They cost more than your water bottles, but you don't have to worry about being able to cork them. I think the first poster used screw top bottles, but closed them with the same screw caps. He didn't cork them. Also, they were liquor bottles, which seem more sturdy to me.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
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    Cedar Rapids, IA
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    Default Re: Bottle question

    Ask your friends that drink wine to save their bottles for you...

    Also, a store may be willing to give you returned bottles if you will pay them the deposit fee. Which is much cheaper than ordering online...

  8. Default Re: Bottle question

    I got about 20 various wine bottles from a local italian resturant, by calling and asking one of the managers. Only thing he was worried about is if I would really pick them up at the end of the night, because he didn't want them sitting around for weeks.

    It might also have helped that my step-father-in-law is the head cheff, but I didn't mention that to them until after over the phone the manager said it was cool, and he would save them for me.

    But I guess this resturant just throws the bottles out, and do not return them for money... But anyhow, I still think it is a sweet deal for me

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Evergreen, CO (west of and above the Denver smog!)
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    5,794

    Default Re: Bottle question

    Many states do not allow the recycling of any beer, wine or liquor bottles. It's an archaic law, based on the stuff that went on during Prohibition days when home made hootch was often used to refill empties. The trouble with inexperienced distillation was that often times there was a lot of methyl alcohol mixed in with the ethanol, and the stuff in those refilled containers was often poisonous.

    So of course instead of fixing the root cause of the problem (by allowing properly managed distillation to get back into business right away), they instead made it illegal to reuse liquor bottles, and only got around to repealing Prohibition years later. <SIGH>
    Na zdrowie!

    Wayne B.

  10. Default Re: Bottle question

    Quote Originally Posted by Pewter_of_Deodar
    Also, a store may be willing to give you returned bottles if you will pay them the deposit fee. Which is much cheaper than ordering online...
    This is what I did to get my first set of bottles. Iowa has a 5 cent deposit, and I offered the local liquor store owner 10cents a bottle. He made money with this, and I still got them dirt cheap. Both of us came out happy.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Bottle question

    Quote Originally Posted by Leonora
    In both cases after a couple of months when I have opened and tasted the two mead, the corked mead has been SIGNIFICANTLY different than the crown capped mead.

    The mead under the crown cap has changed very little from the way it tasted when bottled, again both times. While the mead in the corked bottle has become (to me) better. More complex, more mature, more better-er.

    Don't have any explaination, just observation
    Interestin stuff leonora, I'd never heard this. I don't understand it per se, but I've been lead to believe that part of the "magic" of barrel aging is that it allows an amount of oxydation to occur, which at controlled levels is actually beneficial. My guess would be that corked bottles may also allow a tiny bit of oxidation, while rubberized caps make an impermeable seal.
    Go On, Take The Honey and Run

  12. #12

    Default Re: Bottle question

    What lenor is talking about all has to do with CO2 and oxygen exchange that happens through the coark that dosent happen redily through a crown cap. I dont understand it completly but thats what ive been able to pick up from wine magazines any way!

    As for getting bottles goes in a pinch you can get jug wine at 10$ for a 1 gallon glass jug and cork it. You can buy the corks here http://www.midwestsupplies.com/ . dont bottle in plastic it seeps over time and you can get off flavors due to the alchool plastic interaction. Even if you have to by some cheap wine & throw a small party its worth it. If for no other reason you can age your Wine, Mead, or Beer


  13. Default Re: Bottle question

    Thank you for the help everybody. I lucked out - found out that one of the gift stores in my town started carrying homebrewing supplies. They just didn't advertise! So I've got my corks and bottles. Woo hoo!

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