Many homebrewers like to save money. Who doesn’t? One of the first opportunities for saving a few bucks while homebrewing is to reuse beer bottles you buy from the store. Sure, it saves some cash, but it does take a little extra effort. (But at least you get bonus points for being eco-friendly!)
Here’s what you need to do to reuse beer bottles for homebrewing.
- Don’t save twist-offs. This type of beer bottle doesn’t work well for re-capping. Only save the pry-off style beer bottles for recycling.
- Brown is better. It’s ok to reuse green and clear glass bottles, but brown ones offer the best protection against UV light. (Light can make your beer taste “lightstruck” or “skunky”.)
- Love the larger beer bottles. The larger format 22-oz. and 25-oz. bottles are great – fewer bottles to clean and fill. Plus they make great gifts for the holidays!
- Covet the flip-top. Euro-style bottles with the flip-top are just cool! Reusing these type of beer bottles for homebrewing are well worth the effort.
- Rinse them out first. Residual beer left at the bottom of a beer bottle is an ideal place for mold and other funky creatures to take hold. Save yourself the trouble of scrubbing out the beer bottles by rinsing them out as soon as you’re done with them. Three quick rinses usually gets the job done, but check inside for residual yeast at the bottom just to be sure.
- Remove the labels. Plan for this task to take some time. (It’s probably the least favorite part of bottling homebrew, so some homebrewers just leave the labels on.) The best way to remove commercial labels is to soak the bottles in a tub filled with hot water and One Step. In 15-20 minutes, most of the labels – the ones that use a glue adhesive – should slide right off. Others may be more difficult. Make note of the brands whose labels come off easily and those who don’t. Next time you’re looking for a 12-pack, choose accordingly.
With a decent amount of time and elbow-grease, you can soon have a healthy armada of beer bottles!
If you want to avoid some of the work involved in reusing beer bottles for your homebrewing, we carry new beer bottles by the case!
- 12 oz. Amber Bottles
- 22 oz. Amber Bottles
- 16 oz. Flip-top Amber Bottles
- 1L Flip-top Amber Bottles
- 16 oz. Flip-top Bottles – Cobalt Blue
Are you reusing beer bottles for your homebrewing operation? How did you get the bottles?
David Ackley is a writer, brewer, and craft beer marketing consultant. He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder of the Local Beer Blog.