From the HBD Archive
From: olson@cs.rochester.edu
Subject: re: beginner bottle question
Date: 1989-01-23 15:27:44 GMT

John Opalko writes:
>I've decided to take the plunge and start brewing my own. The nice man at my
>friendly, neighborhood homebrew supply house informed me that the twist-
>off beer bottles (not screw cap) that I had been emptying and saving all these
>months are useless. He said that even though the bottles take a crown cap
>and will seal properly, the glass is thinner than regular bottles and I
>may end up with dozens of little, tiny time bombs.
>
>Is this true? Not that I have any reason to doubt him; just hoping. Are
>soft drink bottles acceptable? I've got zillions of sarsaparilla bottles
>that aren't twist-off. Nice dark brown glass, too.

An uninformed opinion, mind you - I haven't tried it. But I suspect that
the nice man is right. I bottle in a mixture of old Beck's and Molson
bottles. The Beck's are built like trucks, and look to be about as
robust as the classic longnecks. The Molson bottles are a lot thinner,
and I used to worry about them until I found out how bad that was for my
beer. In any case, none of them have ever gone boom.

The problem I'd guess is not so much the gas pressure as the strain of
being capped. Look closely at the rim of a twist-off bottle. No substance
to it at all. When you cap, you grab the poor baby by the neck in a pair
of steel jaws, then pull up on the neck and push down on the head hard enough
to bend the metal of the cap. My old capper (tall, has a spring and three
fingers that hook under the rim of the bottle, requires constant adjustment
and is generally a pain) used to bite the heads off one or two molson bottles
during every bottling session. If you bottle in twist-offs, you might
bite the heads off; if you're unlucky, you might weaken the rims enough
that the gas pressure does the rest. BTW, I now use a low-profile,
non-adjustable capper that seems to leave the Molson bottles alone.

Your sarsparilla bottles sound just fine. As I said, my experience with
lightly built molson bottles (I've used a few Anchors as well, they
too are rather flimsy-looking) suggests that anything with a non-twistoff
rim will do fine.

Just to be on the safe side, you might want to do what I do: after bottling,
put the bottles in case boxes and put the cases into a plastic lawn 'n' leaf
bag. My theory is that if the worst happens, most of the broken glass
will be contained by the bag, and maybe I'll have a little less mopping
up to do...

As Nicolette says somebody says, "May your bottles never break!"

--Tom O

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