Cleaning old beer bottles for brewing
|Bottles like this, filthy on the inside, can be cleaned with a bit of effort and good technique|
Cleaning bottles is the least fun part of the process by far. It's the type of job that you only want to do once. To avoid going through this process more than once make sure that you rinse the bottles a couple of times to ensure that they are clean after you've used them, and stack them away in a cupboard somewhere near where you bottle your beer.
The newer 750ml screwtop bottles can be used but are of poor quality. They are made to be recycled, not reused. The glass is thin and they often break. I use them, but dislike them. My favourite bottles are the old long necks, 750ml thick glass. By using bigger bottles you don't have to clean so many and are encouraged to drink with someone else. Nothing quite like sharing a bottle of beer! The old bottles (and even the new Coopers ones) are designed for reuse and are like gold for homebrewers like myself. I've collected old bottles from the side of the road, full of mud and gunk, and taken them home with the idea that I'd clean them one day. That day has come.
|Large collection of old beer bottles being filled with water and left to soak|
After tipping half of the water out I add small (5mm) rough edges stones to the bottle using a funnel. I give the bottle a good shake for a minute or so and then empty the bottle through a tea strainer to retain the stones for the next bottle. I find that this gets rid of the majority of caked on gunk that has stuck to the glass.
|A small hand full of rough-edged stones, about 5mm in diameter, are added to the dirty bottle half-filled with water|
|After shaking the stones around in the bottle for a mintue or so I drain the water out through a large tea strainer into a container so I can reuse the stones for the next bottle|
|I add some clean water to the bottle and give it a bit of a final clean with a good quality bottle brush|
Clean bottles are then put into a crate, by the time the crate is full (12 bottles) I've had enough, and stack them into a cupboard in the shed. The cupboard is within arms reach of my bottling bench where I refill the bottles with freshly brewed beer (more about that later).
|I carefully inspect the bottle to make sure it's clean (this is the same bottle as the first photo)|
|Clean bottles are stacked in a cupboard in the shed ready for bottling|