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December 8, 2011 12:09 PM   Subscribe

Some of my homebrew beer bottles with crimp-on tops broke when opened.

These same bottles were not carbonated properly, which seems strange that they didn't either break on capping or turn into bottle bombs.

This happened to both brand new, ordered bottles and re-used bottles with two different kinds of beer, and hadn't happened with previous batches. I did make a specific attempt to cap more tightly this time because last time a couple didn't carbonate properly, but didn't break either. What's the deal, and what can i do about it in the future? This is the capper I use.
posted by cmoj to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Did you use the same bottle opener that you always use? I've seen this happen with commercial beer, too, if the opener is faulty.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:15 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does "not carbonated properly" only mean over-carbonated? And where did the bottles break? Always in the same place?

If it's always in the same place when the beer is over-carbonated you might want to consider a different bottle type. If it's random, MrMoonPie's suggestion to try a different opener is good idea.

How are you carbonating? If you're adding sugar to each bottle before capping that has a tendency to cause variations in the carbonation level. When I bottled (I use draft kegs only now) I batch carbonated but that requires more equipment and a dedication to sanitation.

Now matter which method you use are you sure your active fermentation is complete? Varying amount of active yeast could make some bottles more carbonated than others as well.
posted by tommasz at 12:33 PM on December 8, 2011


Are the necks of your bottles gently sloped, like anchor bottles? I have found that my butterfly-style capper grips these bottle necks (as opposed to straighter necks) sooner in the capping process which leads to needing alot of force to get the cap capped. And then I break more bottles, both during capping and after opening. Same thing with large(r) bottles - when I cap magnums it's a tricky balance of half-closing the capper before applying force so that I don't break off the bottle neck before the cap even touches the rim.

All that said, bottle caps seal with remarkably little force - are you sure that the carbonation problem is related to the caps?
posted by gyusan at 12:37 PM on December 8, 2011


I have the same capper and have cracked bottles by being too forceful, which may be what happened here
posted by RustyBrooks at 12:48 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Where did they break? At the cap? Down in the neck? I'm thinking you used too much force to cap the bottles and, somehow, simultaneously stressed the glass and still didn't get a good seal. Personally, I prefer to use a bench capper. They just seem to give me a more secure, consistent seal.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:49 PM on December 8, 2011


keep in mind if you are reusing modern bottles that they are not as strong as returnables from past years. I have two cases of true heavy bar bottles and they have way more heft than a bud or coors bottleyou may be using for your home brew.

Bench capper or corker is a great investment.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:57 PM on December 8, 2011


The bottles probably had hairline cracks which let out the carbonation. You might have cracked them during capping. I had problems with that Red Baron capper and went back to a slightly cheaper black plastic model.

Also, note that there is no need to press down on the bottle at all when crimping the caps - the capper pulls the bottle towards the cap (or another way to think of it, it holds the bottle while pushing the cap down). You can actually start the capping motion just enough to capture the bottle in the capper, and pick the bottle up from the ground with the capper and then finish capping with the bottle off the ground. Pushing down doesn't help seal, and might lead to cracking.
posted by exogenous at 1:00 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did you use the same bottle opener that you always use?

I would have used one of several both times.

Did you use the same bottle opener that you always use? And where did the bottles break? Always in the same place?

No, it means it hardly carbonated at all. Shoulda made that clear. And yes, at the top of the neck near the cap.

I mix the dissolved and boiled sugar into the whole batch to carbonate.

I used these bottles with a few random re-used, but similar bottles in one of the batches.

Man, for how long I took formulating this I sure left a lot out.

Also, note that there is no need to press down on the bottle at all when crimping the caps - the capper pulls the bottle towards the cap (or another way to think of it, it holds the bottle while pushing the cap down). You can actually start the capping motion just enough to capture the bottle in the capper, and pick the bottle up from the ground with the capper and then finish capping with the bottle off the ground. Pushing down doesn't help seal, and might lead to cracking.

I did push down pretty forcefully because I'd had a few bottles not carbonate in the previous batch that I mixed the sugar into in the same way and I figured some hadn't gotten capped tightly enough.

a bud or coors bottleyou may be using for your home brew.

Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?
posted by cmoj at 1:35 PM on December 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think your squeezy capper is damaging your bottles. Try a bench capper. I've used one and never had a problem.
posted by exphysicist345 at 6:10 PM on December 8, 2011


I have that exact same capper. If you are pushing down hard on it, that's what's breaking the bottles, if you just let the capper do it's thing, it should have a problem.

I've probably done 10,000 bottles with mine, and only broken about half a dozen bottles (all twist-offs, which are thinner).
posted by kaszeta at 6:20 PM on December 8, 2011


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