From the HBD Archive
From: hplabs!utah-cs!cs.utexas.edu!raven!rcd (Dick Dunn)
Subject: bigger bottles
Date: 1989-07-20 14:26:40 GMT

> I have heard it is feasible to bottle in champagne bottles.

Strictly, nit-pick-ily, no. It's possible to bottle in American sparkling
wine bottles, but not Champagne bottles...

>...Some
> champagne bottles have a lip on them that will accept a bottle cap and
> some bottle cappers are high enough to cap a champagne bottle.

Almost all sparkling wine bottles have a crown-cap rim. In principle, this
is because good sparkling wine (made in the "methode Champenoise") finishes
fermentation in the bottle with a metal crown cap on it. The last stage of
preparation has slowly inverted the bottle to bring the yeast to the cap.
The neck of the bottle is frozen, the bottle is brought upright and opened,
the carbonation ejects a plug of frozen wine with the sediment, and the
bottle is corked and wired. But I digress...

So there's a reason for the crown-cap rim on some bottles. Bulk-fermented
sparkling wines ("Charmat" process) don't go through the riddling/disgorging
process, but they all seem to have the same style of rim anyway.

The catch is that Champagne bottles...in fact, all foreign bottles...use a
larger rim than American bottles. It is just barely possible to cap the
foreign bottles with normal caps with some cappers--BUT it is also
possible to crack the rim and drop a piece into a bottle while you're
bottling! So I recommend sticking to the American ones. If you're not
sure, just compare to a beer bottle.

This suggests a good source of sparkling wine bottles: Find a restaurant
that serves a "champagne brunch" (usu Sun) and make arrangements with them
to pick up their bottles. You may need to offer the help a couple of
bottles of homebrew, and be sure you show up to get the bottles if they
agree to save them, but you should be able to get enough bottles for a lot
of beer in just a couple of Sundays.

Certainly the bottles are all strong enough for beer; sparkling wines are
bottled at much higher pressures.

TRY the bottles with your capper before the bottling session. I've found
that they just fit under my slot-machine capper. The magnums won't fit it,
but I have a hand capper (the two-lever style) that I can use on the
magnums. HOWEVER, I found that this hand capper got into an argument with
some of the regular bottles and would crack the second rim section (the
part the capper pulls against from below) on one style of bottle. This is
not something you want to discover while you're bottling!

Magnums (if you can get them) work just as well as standard-size bottles,
but they're a lot harder to come by. (Same caveat for foreign vs domestic
applies here--the crown sizes are the same as for the regular.) A magnum
is great for parties. I've never had the luck to get my hands on anything
larger, but I think I've seen that at some size they don't crown-cap the
bottle. (That may even apply to a jereboam.)

> I heard of a homebrewer who bottled in 2 liter pop bottles and decided
> to try it myself.

I used one 2-liter Watney's bottle as a test. It seems to have worked
well. I don't know how it's going to be to clean it after it's been used a
few times, but the first shot worked fine and all the mentioned advantages
hold for it. It has some brown tint to it, but I don't know whether that
is really functional, since it's not very dark and the inherent
transmission properties of the plastic (probably PET; anyone know for
sure?) are surely different from glass.
---
Dick Dunn {ncar;ico;stcvax}!raven!rcd (303)494-0965
or rcd@raven.uucp

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