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Bottling in 64 oz. Growlers

Hi all,

I just brewed my first ever batch of Caribou Slobber 2 wks ago and I was looking for some input regarding secondary fermentation and the bottling process. From various sources across the forum I’ve seen that secondary fermentation is likely not necessary. Should I be allowing primary 3 or 4 weeks total then? The air lock stopped bubbling about 3 days after brew day and I have not noticed much activity since.

Also, I only purchased one 24 case of bottles with my beginner brewing set. Is it possible to bottle in 64 oz. growlers, or should I look into purchasing more bottles? I currently have 2 64 oz growlers and a 67.6 oz growler, but I don’t know how I would utilize them for bottling.

Thanks in advance for your input!

To secondary or not is a hotly debated topic. A lot of people say it is not needed for most beers and increases the risk of oxidization and infection. Personally, I think this risk is minimized with proper sanitization procedure and proper racking technique. And the one beer that I didn’t secondary ended up coming out very cloudy with a lot of sediment in the bottle. Most of the time I also am racking to a secondary so I can re-use the yeast cake.

Most of my brews I leave in the primary for two weeks and the secondary for two weeks. I’ll usually check the gravity but most beers are long done by then. If you want to try to get it in the bottle faster, you can use a hydrometer to check the gravity. If it matches the finished gravity for the kit or is the same reading three days in a row, you should be good to bottle. If you don’t have one, I’d say get one.

I’ve seen a lot of information about bottling in growlers. The general agreement is that it is a dangerous idea because growlers were not designed to take bottling pressure. A number of people have had them turn into bottle bombs. You’re better off getting more bottles. If you want to reduce the number of bottles you have to cap, you can get some 22 oz bottles or some 750 ml Belgians.

Good advice on the hydrometer. We all don’t start out with one but get one somewhere along the line. As for two weeks, probably done but why risk it. Give it another week or two to be sure. The old rule of thumb was 1-2-3 one week primary, two secondary and three in the bottles. That means before bottling there was a three week wait. The secondary is not really to complete fermentation as much as it is to let it settle to clear and age a short time.

About the growlers. I have used them to bottle in the past without any explosions YMMV. Not long enough fermentation or too much priming sugar can make bottle bombs in bottles made for it. A growler may not be as tolerant of the pressure.

If you are brave, to use one just rack to your bottling bucket as usual with priming sugar and fill just like the rest of the bottles. Place the growler in something leak proof with a cover so if it blows no mess or danger. When the bottles are carbonated enough, move the growler to the fridge to stop any further carbonation.

A safer idea might be to use plastic two liter soda bottles like unflavored seltzer bottles. They are pressure tolerant and easy to tell when they carb since you can feel them get hard.

I really wouldn’t recommend this. Give yourself a little time before bottling. When I first started brewing a friend of mine and I threw a small party and requested that the people that attended bring a six pack of beer with non-screw top bottles. One Friday night provided all the bottles for a brew session or two and everyone had a good time. You’re safer with bottles than the growlers. This was long ago (1982 and at the time we requested that everyone bring a six pack of import beer as other non-screw tops weren’t easy to come by). Of course we also went out and each bought a case of Miller long necks so we could see our beer through the glass.

Screw-top bottles really shouldn’t be used. Even if they don’t pop, those caps don’t hold pressure as well. If they’re flip-tops, go for it. Otherwise, ask friends to gather empties.

Thanks a lot for the input, it is greatly appreciated. Looks like I am scavenging for bottles the next couple of weeks, shouldn’t be too difficult to throw back a case and save the bottles.

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