Once your beer has fermented and cleared, it is time to make the move to your holding containers. This usually requires that you bottle your beer. Not all home brewers choose to use bottles – kegging systems are also popular. Still, bottling is one of the simplest and most cost-effective options for new brewers. You do have a few considerations to make here though. Your primary consideration is going to be whether to use new or used beer bottles.
New bottles are likely to be your first choice. After all, who really wants to use an old, used beer bottle? New bottles do have a few benefits. For instance, they’re in the best condition possible. They are also available in a number of different cap styles – cork, hinged caps and more. With that being said, new beer bottles might not be the best option for the cost-conscious brewer though. New bottles often come at a premium even though that might be relatively low. New bottles also still need to be sanitized before using them.
Why would you want used beer bottles? While new might be the more preferred option, there are some real benefits to using older bottles. One of the first ones that you’ll notice is that they’re cheaper than new bottles (or free). That certainly saves you money that can be put towards other components or ingredients. The main consideration with used bottles is the need to sanitize them thoroughly and to remove the old labels. While new bottles also need to be sanitized, the need is greater with used bottles due to the presence of old yeast, bacteria and other unwanted contaminants.
Sanitizing beer bottles is not really all that hard. Glass does not absorb bacteria or other unwanted organisms so a thorough cleaning will give you great results. First, you need to wash and rinse your bottles thoroughly. Once they are completely clean you can use a number of sanitizers or if you want to go by FDA regulations, then you need to heat them and maintain 180 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 seconds. This can be done relatively easily in an oven so long as your bottles are completely clean before putting them in.
It’s best not to use your dishwasher to clean your bottles unless it has a “sanitize” setting. Other settings do not reach the right temperature or maintain that temperature for the required duration. Cutting corners here can result in batch spoilage due to bacteria, or even in you getting sick.