I just got a collona corker/capper over the holidays and I plan to use it for corking Belgian beers per the nice write up on doing so here http://www.slobrewer.com/howto/corking-belgians/
However, backing up a bit...
I made my wife some wine for the holidays (first try and turned out really nicely) and in order to cork it I bought one of those cheap $5 "Handy" plunger corkers. What is the fuss about those anyway, it wasn't that hard... I digress.
So, there I was. Waiting hopefully for a new corker, yet I had this capable cheap gadget to play with. I also had a partial keg of Belgian Dark Strong that I needed to empty to make room for some beers ready to rack. I decided to bottle the rest of the beer in Champagne bottles and cap them. As a lark I tried corking two, well, three actually but one cork got pushed in too far so I capped it as well.
The beer was force carbonated to approx. 3 volumes. I used plain old #9 agglomerated wine corks soaked briefly in star san. I used european size champagne bottles which take the 29mm crown caps. I haven't checked to see if the opening diameter is different from Belgian bottles or U.S. Champagne bottles. I figured out the depth to plunge through a quick bit of trial and error with empty bottles and marking the plunger with a sharpie. Then plunged in the cork to the mark. I then picked the bottle up off the surface and pushed the cork through the rest of the way. I then caged them and set to rest in my cool room.
Today, about 3 weeks later I opened one. I removed the cage and set the bottle down to get a glass out. POP! the cork flew out on its own! I poured. Carbonation was still where it was when bottling. Head retention seems to have improved?? Tastes just as excellent as it did previously. Cork was just slightly mushroomed as it is a smaller diameter.
So what has this shown? I don't know, but It has me wanting to experiment further. Yes, I grant that it has only been in the bottle 3 weeks or so. There is a possibility that it will not last the long haul. Perhaps, the smaller diameter cork will not protect it well enough, or maintain carbonation. Or... well, not sure what else could go wrong but it seems worth playing with. Also granted these were champagne bottles and not Belgian bottles.
I am waiting for B3 to get Belgian corks back in stock. It is kind of a hassle to get these, Have to order them. Not to mention pricier than standard corks. So perhaps if my experiments work out this will be an easier more economical solution. Yes they aren't quite as pretty as they do not mushroom as much, but if they work...
Once I get some Belgian corks I will bottle a tripel I have waiting. I will be bottle conditioning and I will try a small amount with standard corks. Some in Belgian bottles and some in Champagne. Perhaps 6 of each. Then I will open them over a period of time and see how they hold up vs. ones corked with "official" Belgians corks. Should be interesting. Any comments out there? Anyone tried similar attempts?