The brew day feels like it happened ages ago, and fermentation has finally finished. After patiently waiting, your thirst has reached its peak. Unfortunately, before you can enjoy your beer, you need to properly package it. When it comes to bottling, there are several options to consider, so you need to think about what’s best for you and your beer.
Whatever you do, avoid using twist-off style bottles. These are the bottles commonly used by large breweries that we all know. They have a threaded lip for screwing on the bottle cap. Although you might find them in bulk in your neighbor’s recycling bin, they are not designed for reuse.
Using a standard cap on a twist-off bottle will inevitably lead to leakage and potentially contaminated beer. Stick to bottles with a rounded, non-threaded lip. Additionally, make sure to use amber colored bottles. As you know, light can harm beer, and the darker brown tint helps block out UV rays and protect the beer. It’s advisable to steer clear from green and clear bottles that are not as effective at blocking light.
There are two main types of caps: standard and oxygen-absorbing.
Standard caps are the widely used type that can be easily applied to a pry-off bottle lip. They effectively seal the beer and keep outside air out. You can use them with any bottle capper, and they come in various colors and styles to add a personal touch and complete the beer packaging.
Another type is the oxygen-absorbing cap. This cap has a special liner designed to absorb and retain oxygen in the headspace between the liquid and the cap. Its purpose is to reduce the potential for oxidation, which can cause off flavors in your beer. For this reason, oxygen-absorbing caps are a great choice for beers that you plan on aging or storing for longer than 3 months.
There are two main methods for applying bottle caps, and each gets the job done effectively. Choosing between them is also a matter of personal preference.
First, let’s look at the wing-style triple-hinged capper. This capper is the most common, perhaps due to its low cost and the fact that it’s often included in homebrewing kits. It’s a great choice for beginners or those who don’t want to spend a lot of money on a capper.
It features a magnetic tray that holds the cap in place, three hinges, and two handles that allow you to apply the right amount of leverage to crimp the cap onto the bottle. The integrated spring-loaded system makes the process easier by automatically raising the handles and cap tray when pressure is released. It may take a little practice to get used to, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes a very helpful tool.
Another option is the bench capper. This is more expensive than the wing-style capper but makes bottling larger batches much faster. It has a wide base where you place your bottle and a spring-loaded arm and capper assembly that move up and down a tower.
This capper is easier to use because you can hold the bottle steady with one hand while applying pressure to the cap with the other. You don’t have to worry about accidentally tipping over and breaking the bottle when applying pressure, which can be an issue with wing cappers. Additionally, you can quickly and confidently seat the cap on top of the bottle. You can also attach the entire capper to a workbench or countertop for added stability. Bench cappers are adjustable to accommodate bottles of different heights.