Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bottle washing day

Bottle washingOne of the "chores" of getting ready for homebrewing is the dreaded bottle washing day. I've been saving up all of my beer bottles for the last entire year and ended up with over 4 huge trash bags full of 12oz, 22oz, and the assorted odd size bottles. When I end up getting to the point where I'm ready to bottle I want to use as few bottles as possible to store my 5 gallon batch in. Hence, I first want to use my big 22oz bomber bottles.

I spent an hour sorting through my bottle collection. All of those big bombers and 16oz bottles that I found I put off to the side. I'd focus on these today. After sifting through a couple hundred bottles I managed to find 26 large bottles. All of these had labels, some had was coatings, and even others had foil wrappings. It wasn't going to be easy getting all that stuff off those bottles.

Ten years ago when I used to homebrew, I decided to just buy a couple cases of new brown bomber bottles. Well this time around, I wanted to save a few bucks and re-use bottles that I had already used.

I filled up my basement utility sink up with hot hot water and soaked all 26 bottles in there for about 3 hours or so. I figured that would help loosen up those labels and other items. I came back after several hours and tried peeling off a label. It seemed to work for the most part but managed to leave a lot of glue residue on the glass. I was going to need something to scrub off that pesky glue.

Soaking bottlesI found a hard bristled scrub brush on my workbench and tried out a bottle on it. Wow - that brush worked great! The glue residue came right off with very little effort. Some of the bottles gave up their adornments better than others. Some European bottles has a glue that was downright nasty to get off. On other bottles, the foil wrappers at the top of the bottle required a sharp knife to scrape off.

I was lucky enough to have the assistance of my lovely wife and daughter to help me peel labels and scrub bottles. Having a work crew of 3 helped get all of the labels off those bottles in about 45 minutes.

In hind sight, I realized there are probably better ways to remove labels. My friends on Twitter told me how they do it.

olllllo, Jeffporn and BigKahunaBrew say they throw all of their rinsed empties into a 35g garbage can and use oxyclean on them overnight. Any labels that don't fall off they pitch.

Discarded labelsFieldpointeBrew suggested trying some PBW brewery wash. This stuff is supposedly amazing at cleaning all sorts of brewing related items.

I'm heading to my local homebrew shop this week to pick up more supplies. I've definitely have PBW and Star-San on my list of items to stock for my home brewery.

Next step is to wash these bottle well in the dish washer and store them in a clean place. Then on bottling day I'll dip them in a no-rinse sanitizer and I'll be ready for the beer!

Continue reading: The trials and tribulations of bottling beer.

Related articles:
- Homebrew shopping list.
- Putting together the home brewery.
- My humble homebrew beginnings.
- Homebrew beer batch 001 tasting notes.

This article came from FermentedlyChallenged.com
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