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Sterilizing Bottle Tops

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Boots

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Hi everyone
I was reading How to brew (which BTW is a great read), and saw that John Palmer insists on sterilizing/sanitzing bottle tops before bottling. I have never done this myself, but I have wondered about it. I'm curious as to what the general consensus is out there.

Question...

a) Do you guys clean/sanitise/sterilise your bottle tops

b ) If so, what do you use / how do you do it


I'm just about to bottle my "hot off the press" Thomas Cooper's kit, so It'd be good to know what's best.

Cheers n Beers and merry xmas

Boots
 

kook

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Hmm, thats a good point actually, i've never sterilised mine. I may start doing this from now on, just to be sure.
 

RegBadgery

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I have soaked crown tops in iodophor in the past, but not for at least the last 15 brews. I haven't noticed any crook flavours. Like many things it may or may not matter, and if it matters it may not show up for an extended period (I haven't yet kept any beers for longer than 4-5 months) or maybe I've been lucky??.

I can't see that sanitising crown tops would hurt and it's a pretty painless process - you'd already have some sanitiser on hand for the bottles anyway.

cheers
reg
 

PMyers

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I rarely sterilise my crown seals, and have until this year never noticed any problems from this. On a few occasions (about four all up over 40+ brews this year) I have noticed that some individual bottles in an otherwise fine batch have been overcarbonated to the point of near explosion (luckily enough I can still claim never to have had a bottle bomb). I bulk prime when I bottle, which means that I will either get perfectly carbonated brews, all under carbonated, or all over carbonated. Individual overcarbonated bottles should never occur due to bulk priming. After thinking about the occasional volcanic brew I came to the conclusion that perhaps it was the work of a wild yeast. Again, if such a yeast had infected the brew, then they would be all overcarbonated. Such conclusions led me to believe in the possibility of singular wild yeasts happening by chance to settle on an individual bottle top prior to bottling. As a rule, whenever I bottle now, I always sterilise the caps and the existence of the overly excited beverage has simply dissapeared.

I apologise if this post seems to ramble, but I had very little sleep last night :chug: :chug: :chug: ...

Cheers,
Pete

:chug:
 

Barry

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Good Day
I usually put the caps in a clean salsa jar and pour boiling water over them and let them stand until I am ready to cap. I have also soaked them in a very weak solution of iodophor. Both methods work for me.
All the best, Barry.
 

dane

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Barry said:
I usually put the caps in a clean salsa jar and pour boiling water over them and let them stand until I am ready to cap.
Have you had any sealing problems with this method?

I have been told not to pou boiling water in the caps as it can damage the plastic seal that seals the bottle.
 

RegBadgery

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I've experienced varying levels of carbonation with bulk priming. There was one occasion when I boiled the dextrose down too far and it became quite syrupy - put it in the bottom of the bottling bucket anyway and later found that the bottles filled toward the end were far more carbonated than those at the beginning. I imagine that the syrupy dextrose solution didn't adequately mix.

Do people put the dextrose (solution) in the bottling bucket and then add the wort, or add dextrose to the wort?

Also recently reading about headspace in bottles. There was an argument that bottles with more headspace (and so more air) carbonate faster than those with less. I'm finding that I don't need much (or maybe none - who knows) headspace - that bottles carbonate even if filled right up near the top. Wondering how this compares with other's experiences.

cheers
reg
 

Vindaloo

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I've never sterilised bottle caps - always having used plastic ones. Touch wood, I've never had a problem.

Vinds.
 

davester

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I don't sterilise the tops.....

I use the cheap shitty Bi-Lo crown seals and have never had issues in over a hundred brews.
The bag has a little hole to breathe I suppose, but never any problems.
 

Vindaloo

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A seal is a seal is a seal - if it fits, then wear it, so to speak. As long as the beer is all good, I don't think it'd matter if you use BiLo seals or solid titanium crown seals with diamond encrusting. :)

Vinds.
 

Barry

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Good Day
Boiling water does not seem to affect the caps. Some advise the boiling of the caps and this did seem to affect the plastic seals in my opinion.
I bulk prime and it works well but you do need to make sure that the solution is mixed well. I put the solution in the bottling fermenter first then syphon the beer into it and gently swirl the beer and solution by gently rocking the fermenter several times as it fills.
 

PMyers

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Reg - In relation to your previous post, I don't actually boil the dextrose with the water. I simply add the correct amount (8g per litre of beer) to about 500ml hot water. I then stir it until it has dissolved, and add it to the fermenter. I use enough tubing so that it coils around the bottom of the fermenter creating a vortex of sorts when the beer siphons into it.

I imagine that boiling the solution would thicken it considerably, thus making it harder for it to mix thoroughly with the beer when it is siphoned.

Cheers and happy Cristmas,
Pete

:chug:
 

Indy

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RegBadgery said:
I've experienced varying levels of carbonation....

Also recently reading about headspace in bottles. There was an argument that bottles with more headspace (and so more air) carbonate faster than those with less. I'm finding that I don't need much (or maybe none - who knows) headspace - that bottles carbonate even if filled right up near the top. Wondering how this compares with other's experiences.

cheers
reg
hmmm apparently excess oxygen allows faster creation of carbon dioxide & hence faster carbonation... :rolleyes:

i don't kno about this but i seem to think that over a few months (2-4) this would allow faster maturation of the beer... :huh:

but generally i dont fill em too much cause air is highly compressable, where as liquid is almost incompressable... (as fermentation proceeds if creates more gas etc & a higher pressure)

so if your not careful enough with your priming, there will be a bit of air that can compress reducing the risk of bottle bombs, could this be part of the reason that occasionally 1 or 2 of your bottles seem to be more highly cabonised? :unsure:

edit/ (your bottles more filled to the brim than usual) /edit
 

PostModern

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I always sterilize caps. I just have a small bucket (ice cream container etc) with the caps in sodium met. sitting by the crown sealer. Pick up, shake off solution, cap. I picked up good hygene from my grandma and her pickling. It's very little extra trouble, so why not? I mean why sterilise at all unless you sterilise everything that touches the beer?
 

SIMO

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I always sanitise anything that will come into contact with the finished beer.
BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY I RECKON !!!!!!!
I keep all my tops in a bleach/water solution in a jar.
Rinse and use.

Re bulkpriming

This is the only way to go if you do it properly.
The tube and whirlpool tech works well .
I add my priming sugars/dme to 1- 2 lts of h20, bring to the boil then add to bottling bucket then add the beer on top using the whirlpool tech.
I've had very consistant results .

Cheers
SiMo B)
 

Boots

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I think from now on I'll be using the Ice Cream container and Sod. Met. idea - seems to me as though it requires little to no extra effort for the peace of mind. If it actually does nothing, who cares, you wasted 30 seconds of time and 30 cents of sod. met.

Now I can confidently bottle my ESB Belgian Smoked ale...... Mmmmm - smokey..........

Cheers,
Mike
 

Snow

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Definitely sterilise your bottle tops. It may come in contact with your beer and so should be sterile, same as everything else that touches your beer. I just put my bottletops in a tupperware container and pour in some sodium met, give it a swirl to coat all the caps and leave it in there as I'm bottling.

As for bulk priming, the advice I've been given is to always put your priming solution into the fermenter before you siphon the wort in. This allows you to put the siphon hose under the priming liquid, limiting the chance of introducing air into the wort as it enters the fermenter, thus reducing the risk of oxidisation. Stir well, but gently to provide an even mix, without introducing oxygen.

As for headspace in the bottles, isn't there an international standard for this, which is enforced in homebrew competitions? Maybe 2 inches or something?

- Snow
 

TidalPete

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I used to sterilise my caps with boiling water but got lazy. As I don't bulk prime (yet) & have to give the bottles a shake to dissolve the sugar, maybe this is the reason why I get minium head retention in some bottles? After reading this post I'm going to sterilise my caps with sodium met to make sure. I fill to within 30mm of the top with no problems. :)
 

GOLIATH

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Interesting thread this one!
There has often been discussion on whether to sanitise caps and quite frankly, I used to do it in the days when I knew nothing about brewing except the instructions that came with the kit. I suppose it was fear.

I have not sanitised caps now for a long time. But, thinking about this thread and sodium met (not a good sanitiser folks as it inhibits yeast performance) What it probably will do (i stand to be corrected here) in the relatively low concentration on the cap, is reduce the risk of oxidation.

Any thoughts, you scientist people out there?

Regards
Dave
 

warrenlw63

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Sodium met is not all that effective unless it's in contact with an acid solution. Very effective in winemaking and/or choking your lungs though.

Better to invest in some idophor. More than effective in correct solution and works with 20 minutes contact time. No need to rinse either. You can just chuck your caps in a solution and take them out as needed.

You don't know where your caps have been in the first place. It's probably a good idea to sanitize them like every thing else.

Warren -
 

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