Cleaning bottles, removing tiny leeches?

I visited a local brewery yesterday, and the owner gave me used bottles from the tasting room (about 150 belgians). After being emptied, they had been sitting in a shed for a while (weeks, months?). Some are just regular dirty, but some have little leech looking things on them. I’ve had them on some bottles before that have been left unwashed for many weeks. They don’t come off in an oxyclean soak. I’ve been able to make them come off with vigorous brushing, but that’s hard in a belgian. Has anybody found a way to vanquish these?

personally, I would toss them. I have been brewing and winemaking for years. I have salvaged a lot of wine bottles; but I make sure they are decently clean before i even use them. no scrubbing or bleaching or any other thing for me. I have also bought beer bottles - The ones I salvage are basically from me now. When I used to give people wine or beers, I never got bottle back or they give them back to me with fungus growing in them which I toss. Now I never give any away - too many irresponsible people. I lose the bottle supply. I rinse 3x after each use and dry upside down on rack and then store upside down. I refuse to add a ton of work for bottles. If I am diligent - all works out well! I am picky and into sanitation. I am drinking it! But that is just me. with a big vineyard and garden and fruit trees etc., i have no time for extra bottle salvaging cleanup work.

If they don’t look clean, just toss them. Clean them better before they sit. Stuff can’t grow if there’s nothing to feed it.

I got about 3 dozen various swing tops bottles once that looked like they’d been sitting in the mud for years. New gaskets, and a lot of soaking and scrubbing and they are just fine. If you’re up for the work, then do it. I wouldn’t work that hard for regular bottles, but if they are unique (swing tops, Belgian), then it’s worth the time, as far as I’m concerned.

Hot water and plenty of PBW and they’ll be good as new.

unless a 24 hr soak in PBW makes them squeaky clean I toss any bottle.

+1^^^ on the pbw/24 hours, and maybe a quick scrub with bottle brush. If it is not good at that point… not worth the effort/risk.

Thanks, all. I’ll do the PBW soak (normally I use oxyclean for economy, but this way I’ll be sure I did my best). I hate the idea of throwing out about 60 cappable belgian bottles, but they won’t do me any good if they aren’t clean. Luckily, about 100 of the ones I got were free from the bugs.

If you REALLY want to same them, a soak in lye
(drain cleaner) will eat the dried beer off.

Use appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment), gloves and eye protection.

sorry but you are either drinking too much or smoking some nasty shit. drain cleaner is crazy—but you have made one or more ridiculous statement in other threads.

Lye is a commonly used cleaning agent in commercial breweries. Pumping it through a plate chiller WILL remove all hop and other protein matter from the chiller.


Feel free to point out my other ridiculous statements.

edit to add: I personally would not use lye on bottles. But if these are bottles that the OP is not able to get with out drinking full commercial bottles, then this is an option for him. ... r1MSDS.pdf ... c2MSDS.pdf

Now, I am NOT advocating using Drano or Liquid Plumr as a cleaning agent for someone’s brewery. Pure Lye is a cleaning agent that you can use if you feel necessary.

I use PURE Lye to clean a plate chiller. I have also recirculated it in a SABCO brewing system to clean the water lines. the small parts of the lines that are vinyl are clear now. When before they were cloudy from dark malts.

The use of lye was advocated on anther board by a member who works at Sierra Nevada and has an extensive research background before following his love for brewing. ... &p=1055861

In this post, he says Drano is OK to use. ... &p=1057980

I can get you a current contact info for him if you like.

As a plumber, I don’t even use drain cleaner on drains, nevermind anything that touches my brew…

Anywho, if there is anything that requires scrubbing, etc., I just gun the bottles. Bottles are pretty cheap if you can roll them into an order with cheap shipping, or just drink some craft brew sixers…

A hot soak with PBW has always cleaned anything I had to worry about. That stuff just seems to be amazing. If that didn’t get it done I’d toss the bottle(s), but honestly, it’s never come to that. Good luck.
From our host:
“PBW can effectively clean items that can’t be reached with a brush or sponge, and is strong enough to remove thick, difficult, caked-on organic soils. PBW is environmentally friendly, biodegradable, and will not harm septic systems.”

And there are tons of reviews and comments on this forum, too.

By the way, I wouldn’t rule out lye…it just may not be neccesary.

Chemicals are fine n’ dandy, but you’d be amazed how much just rinsing the crud out of the bottles does. The only time I get junk in my bottles is if I let them sit.

That fuzzy mold that grows needs to snack on something. Glass itself can’t really sustain anything. Once clean, I’ve had some bottles sit for years and they’ll still look clean inside. I’ll still run them through the dishwasher and sani rinse them prior to bottling a batch of beer.

Yeah, I tried rinsing them. The creatures living on the insides don’t come off. I know how to do preventative maintenance, and I do that with bottles when I’m the one who empties them. These were like this when I got them. I was looking for a way to save them. The brewery was planning on having them picked up with the dumpster, so they didn’t rinse/clean them at all. As soon as the bottle was emptied in the tasting room, they just put it in a box. At the end of the night, they carry all the empties to a shed. When the shed fills up, they call the trash pick up. These bottles were probably in the shed for a few months, since there were spiderwebs and things on them, and it’s been below freezing for 2 months here.

There were 104 belgians without bugs and 48 with bugs. I have the last case of bugless bottles soaking right now. Tomorrow I’ll start on the buggy ones and report back what works. I may even post a pic of what the bugs look like.

I am interested, do tell how they come out. I didn’t know PBW could do that much awesome stuff. I am learning so much from this post.