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Salvaging Commercial bottles

I’m new to the group, and to home brewing. So far i have done two 1 gallon kits from another company (craft a brew) and all went pretty well. My next brew will be the 1 gallon Caribu Slobber kit After that I plan to switch to 5 gallon kits which will require more bottles on bottleing day. I’m currently stocking up on my Guinness bottles and would like your ideas of how to safely clean and store them until time to fill. Thanks to all.

I’m not familiar with Guinness bottles because I only drink Guinness on tap but first off only collect bottles that have easily removable labels. Harpoon and Sam Adams are two of my favorite because the label just fall off in a soak. My process is after finishing a beer thoroughly rinse it out and collect a bunch. When you have enough fill a cooler with hot water and oxiclean and soak for a day. The labels fall right of if the don’t I toss em. Next rinse them and store them in a covered box I use the twelve pack boxes they came in. On bottling day fill a bucket or your cooler with stasan ( sometimes I thow a couple frozen water bottles in) put your clean bottles in there and proceed with bottling


Most craft beer bottles that are not twist off should work. Skip ones with foil labels because they are more difficult to remove. Soaking them in hot water and ammonia works and is cheap if you can get past the smell.

If your Guinness bottles are the ones with a widget, the rocket shaped plastic thing that lets out nitrogen, I have used them and they work fine. Takes some work to get the widget out though.

If you know anyone that drinks Grolsch in the swing top bottles they are great. The rubber grommets on the stopper are available if you need to replace them and no capper needed.

Welcome to the forum and the hobby we all call home brewing, there’s a wonderful and knowledgeable group of folks on here that can guide you through most anything!

@brew_cat put it out there for you very well. I usually wait until I have 2+ cases to “clean” and then I mix up an Oxiclean solution to soak the bottles in. This works great and most bottles are label and glue free in a few hours. The Grolsch bottles that @hd4mark mentioned are absolute tanks and a great bottle for home brewers to reuse. Sam Adams, Troegs and Victory for tall boys and Lagunitas and Sierra Nevada for the stubby ones, all seem to be common around here and clean up the best.

I don’t bottle anymore but I have a few friends that still save me bottles to clean and sell. I use that cash towards ingredients and supplies for the brewery.


As has been said, various soaking methods get the labels off with zero effort. I like Oxyclean.

But this cannot be stressed enough: NO TWIST OFFS

Twist-offs do not get sealed properly by Homebrew cappers.

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I agree that the foil labels are the hardest to get off.
Instead of Oxyclean I use StarSan which will even remove ink from printed bottles.
I just sink the bottles in a 5 gallon bucket of Stansan and forget about them.
If you peel up a corner or two with a razor before soaking the labels will capillary action your chosen solvent and it will take less time.
The two types of adhesive are methyl cellulose (aka wheat paste, wallpaper glue) and acrylic resin. The wheat paste kind will just fall off when soaked in water if the water can reach the glue. The acrylic resin will loosen with StarSan and you will be able to peel off the label if you do it slowly. If there is glue left of the bottle just stick it back in the StarSan. This type of glue will get soft and you can scrape it off but Do Not use water to assist. Water will make it super sticky.
Regardless of method make sure to Really Really wash the bottles out of any glue/ink residue

I’ve found this jet bottle washer to be very helpful for cleaning out both bottles and carboys.

Dont guiness bottles have a metal ball inside of them? I would have sworn they use to for shaking them or something…

The cans have/had a widget or something in them…I’ve never seen them in the bottles though…

Welcome to brewing!

If you get Grolsch bottles replacement rubbers are readily available.

That’s right. Makes more sense to be in cans

Makes sense, and pretty much what ive been doing. The bottles here in Rhode Island have easily removable plastic labels. Was more concerned with how long i could store them after rinsing and what to do prior to bottling.Will definitely use this system. Also, I drink Guinness on tap when we’re out and it/s available and will be having a pint in Dublin soon after this virus thing is over. Slainte

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That last post was directed to brew_cat but thanks to all for the great schooling.

Here is what the widget AKA rocket in Guinness bottles looks like

The labels are plastic shrink wrap and can just be peeled off. To get the widget out just rinse out the bottle and give it a downward shake. If it doesn’t come out small needle nose pliers help.

Once my bottles are clean and dry I cover them with foil. This keeps them dust and bug free for the next batch. Just sanitize and fill.

If you turn them upside down you don’t even have to worry about that IMO


I actually de-labeled all of my bottles last night. Some Fat Tire, Sierra Nevada and a few others. They all came off real easy.

Filled my sink with hot water and added a product similar to oxy-clean. Let it sit for 5-10 min and they fall right off. Then a quick soap/water scrub for the soap.


Any regular. Beer bottle. Works. But no twist. Of cap. Beer bottles. Nice long. Soak. The label. Falls off. Easy. One thing. It depends how you gonna. Carbonate. Your bottles. Priming sugar. Or co2. Becarefull. So you dont end up with. Bottles. Who explode. Like hank. From breaking bad

Ha, great Breaking Bad reference…“those were gunshots”!!
The prequel Better Call Saul is winding down toward the timeline of the start of Breaking Bad but they better hurry, cause Mike is getting a little long in the tooth.

Foiled paper labels with acrylic urethane glue does Not just fall off. Whats even more annoying is that it spreads and becomes sticky in hot water. So if you see silver or gold metallic paper expect an extra effort

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