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Bottle Trouble

I clean my bottles in a pail of Easy Clean solution, then soak/rinse with Star San. Noticed shavings of glass in the bottom of the cleaning pail today. Started inspecting my bottles, more than half of them have small cracks, most up near the neck area. For the most part I’m using 22oz bottles. I figure this could be caused by a few different things. Let me know if I’m missing something.

  1. Most likely: I think I’ve been overfilling these 22oz bottles, and this is at least the 2nd go around for them. I fill it right up to the brim, pushing out any remaining Star San foam, then remove the wand and the level drops a bit. Too high?
  2. Occurring during cleaning? Using the brush that has a metal core rod, it is a tight fit going into these bottles…
  3. Possibly cracking while capping? I know I did this once, because I heard it then saw it, but I think I’m seating the caps correctly now. I put just enough pressure on the handles to where the tensions slow builds, then releases as the cap is crimped. There is usually a slight circular mark on the top of the cap when I’m done.

Any other thoughts? Anyone else had the same problem? Now I’m paranoid that I’ve got 15 gallons of beer with glass floating around in it… but I would think most anything should settle on the bottom…

completely a guess, but I would lean towards possibly your item #2 above being the issue.

If nothing else I think #1 above is not an issue at all. sounds to me like you are filling the exact way you should, and even if you were not I don’t see it causing glass slivers to occur.

Were the scratches on the upper rim, by the cap itself, or on the lower rim, that the capper actually grabs? If its the upper rim, then I would actually suspect the bottle opener. If its the lower then I would bet it is how the capper is aligned when you start applying pressure, not the total pressure used.

All scratches/ cracks are below the rim. Most are in the neck, some walk down the bottle top to bottom.

I have some 22s that have been around a long time so this surprises me. Is your capper a “wing” type? If so on some of them the metal pieces that grab the bottle are reversible for different size bottles. Using the wrong size could stress the glass. Also just a guess.

My capper is the standard 2-handled black capper that comes with a kit. I am replacing it with the Red Baron capper, just placed the order. Also ordered 4 new cases of 22oz bottles and a new brush. Will likely recycle all others (after drinking contents). That should take care of issues 2 and 3 if equipment is causing the problem. I’ll make sure I’m going easy on the bottles when cleaning.
Is there any need to leave additional space in the bottle for a 22oz vs. a 12oz when filling?

just curious, do you use the bottle brush each time?

I usually don’t have to for mine - hardly ever unless I lend some beers out and the bottles come back 2 weeks later and were unrinsed

otherwise, I am pretty good at rinsing the bottles out right away after pouring a glass. 3 quick rinses or so with maybe a shake or two added cleans it out well enough for storage I think. I have a bottle tree I just put them on to dry. then before I brew I run them through the dish washer as well (no soap, just bottles)

I am just wondering if you can get away from needing the bottle brush, especially if that is the issue.

you can also get a bottle jet spray thing to clean them

[quote=“Beer Goggles”]
Is there any need to leave additional space in the bottle for a 22oz vs. a 12oz when filling?[/quote]

I fill my bottles (22oz, 16oz, 12oz) the exact same way you describe you do yours without any issue. I believe the wands are designed to leave the correct head space. The link below is the one I use.

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/spri ... iller.html

I think you’d be much happier with a bench-capper, since it will work on many more types of bottles. The wing cappers don’t really work with fat-necked bottles, and it’s also so much more unstable.

If you plan to bottle for a long time, you can’t beat the trifecta: bottling tree, sulfiter (fits on top of tree to pump sanitizer into bottles), and bench capper.

[quote=“fullhousebrew”]just curious, do you use the bottle brush each time?

[/quote]
I was using the brush each time, but I will be stopping this practice. I too rinse bottles and spray sanitizer inside after drinking a brew, so it is surely overkill to brush them.

[quote=“jethrobrewing”]

The link below is the one I use.

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/spri ... iller.html[/quote]

Same one I’m using, thanks! I was thinking my spacing was the problem but now I don’t think so…

[quote=“El Capitan”]
If you plan to bottle for a long time, you can’t beat the trifecta: bottling tree, sulfiter (fits on top of tree to pump sanitizer into bottles), and bench capper.[/quote]

I have a bottling tree, I opted out of the sulfiter after hearing mixed review. Will likely pick up a bench capper eventually, the Red Baron capper had good reviews so I will give it a whirl until I start getting particular about bottles and wanting to cork some, then I’ll spring for a bench capper/corker.

Thanks all! I’m now pretty sure the problem was either the capper or vigorous brushing… the capper is getting replaced and I can almost stop brushing, but I’ll be more careful if I need to.

I’ve used the Red Barron for 23 5 gal. batches so far without any cracks, chips, or leakers. Also brush & use a jet washer on all of them. That’s probably unnecessary since i always triple rinse after drinking. Just gives me reassurance i guess. Thought about getting a second one for a back up in the event it ever does fail me!

Thanks Thirsty, do you use 22oz bottles w/ the Red Baron? If it wasn’t my capper most likely it was the way I was using the brush, I was probably a bit overzealous. I may not even need to brush. When I rinse after drinking I usually put my hand over the mouth of the bottle and shake it pretty good. I have a spray bottle with Star San solution in it, give a few squirts to the mouth of the bottle, then some more inside the bottle. Usually sits overnight like this.

Won’t have anything to do with your issue, but after I started sanitizing in the dishwasher, about one out of 15 or so of my bottle heads would break off when I was trying to open the beer. I would barely even start to put pressure on the beer cap before I would hear the crack. After a while I started pulling on the top a little bit before putting the bottle opener up there. Haven’t had one break for a while. I’m not sure if the dishwasher was the cause or if it was just coincidence.

Now that is weird, was it the heat? I wouldn’t think that would affect glass bottles! These bottles must be much more fragile than I thought.

If the dishwasher’s drying element is on, it will put a bit of heat on the bottle. I’m not sure the dryer itself is hot enough to sterilize, but in lab settings using direct dry heat like like that to sterilize is called de-pyrogenation. Pyrex can be treated that way, but standard glass can get brittle when treated that way repeatedly. I have no idea how the science works, but I gather it’s more because of how fast the temperature changes or how evenly its done more than the actual heat level.

Thanks Thirsty, do you use 22oz bottles w/ the Red Baron? If it wasn’t my capper most likely it was the way I was using the brush, I was probably a bit overzealous. I may not even need to brush. When I rinse after drinking I usually put my hand over the mouth of the bottle and shake it pretty good. I have a spray bottle with Star San solution in it, give a few squirts to the mouth of the bottle, then some more inside the bottle. Usually sits overnight like this.[/quote]

Hello,
I do use 22’s but not as often as 12’s. Haven’t had any issues yet(knock on wood!). The best bottles to use in my opinion are the flip top Grolsch bottles. They’re beefy & no capper required. Can’t get enough of those! Some bottles seem more tight than others when using a brush. I picked up a bottle cleaner that attaches to a drill. Haven’t tried it yet, but hopefully it fits easily in them all. :cheers:

So my last shipment from Northern Brewer included new bottles, a Red Baron capper and a couple new brushes. I’m betting the brush that came with my Brewers Best starter kit was the problem. It was a very tight fit in my bottles, took a bit of elbow grease to get it through the mouth. The new brushes from NB slide right in, but still touch the sides of the bottle. I must say though, that Red Baron capper is a smooth operator!
Two things not worth a damn in the Brewers Best kit: the capper and the bottle brush.

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