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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: mikebiewer on March 24, 2010, 03:19:24 AM

Title: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: mikebiewer on March 24, 2010, 03:19:24 AM
I'm sure everyone has their own techniques for this and I'd love to hear them!

However, when I first started out turning my commercial beer bottles into newly acquired homebrew bottles I had some questions about cleaning them and getting the labels off so that they were ready for sanitation and brewing. I compiled a how to that I've found very effective on my brewing blog that I'd like to share with people new to brewing while still getting feedback from you pro's!

Let me know your thoughts, I'd love to hear what you do!

How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew (http://http://mikesbrewreview.com/how-to-clean-bottles-for-your-homebrew/)
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: Beertracker on March 24, 2010, 03:31:31 AM
If the dirt & labels are too much for some Dawn & a little "elbow grease" then I recycle them.  ::)
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: tygo on March 24, 2010, 04:27:46 AM
I toss them in an Oxyclean bath.  After a good soak the labels peel right off mostly.  If they don't they go in the recycling.  Give them a good rinse and they're ready to get filled back up again.  I've got a big box of empties downstairs right now waiting for the treatment.
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: zee on March 24, 2010, 01:08:39 PM
hot pbw is pretty good at getting off most labels. the rest i hit with a brillo pad [basically steel wool with some sort of degreaser in it]. not really much elbow grease needed.
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: Kaiser on March 24, 2010, 02:10:24 PM
The link you posted doesn't work for me.

Getting the labels off depends very much on the brewer and the glue they used. I find that most German bottel labels come right off when soaked in water. For others adding baking soda to the water helps a lot. You may get the same effect with an alkaline cleanser like PBW. And then there are the really stubborn ones which I
generally recycle unless I really need them.

Kai
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: BrewArk on March 24, 2010, 02:17:19 PM
I usually clean the keg w/PBW. Once you keg you almost never go back!
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: redbeerman on March 24, 2010, 02:34:23 PM
When I do clean bottles,  I soak them in PBW or the equivalent.  The stuborn ones I take a scrubby to, and the glue comes right off with minamal effort.
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: MDixon on March 24, 2010, 03:30:34 PM
Kai - it took a bunch of tries, but here is what he was trying to link
http://mikesbrewreview.com/how-to-clean-bottles-for-your-homebrew/

You guys are silly, the beer goes on the INSIDE of the bottle. No reason to clean off, nor to scrape labels.  ;)
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: bluesman on March 24, 2010, 03:38:02 PM
When I do clean bottles,  I soak them in PBW or the equivalent.  The stuborn ones I take a scrubby to, and the glue comes right off with minamal effort.

+1

PBW solution to remove labels. Then a hot rinse. Finally a quick soak in Starsan solution and to the drying tree they go.  8)
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: jgourd on March 25, 2010, 12:15:21 AM
Kai - it took a bunch of tries, but here is what he was trying to link
http://mikesbrewreview.com/how-to-clean-bottles-for-your-homebrew/

You guys are silly, the beer goes on the INSIDE of the bottle. No reason to clean off, nor to scrape labels.  ;)

+1 on not removing labels.  I love seeing the faces of my buddies when they pop open a Heineken only to find a super-hoppy IPA at 95 IBUs and an intense aroma of Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, and Simcoe.
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: mikebiewer on March 25, 2010, 01:39:00 AM
The link you posted doesn't work for me.

Getting the labels off depends very much on the brewer and the glue they used. I find that most German bottel labels come right off when soaked in water. For others adding baking soda to the water helps a lot. You may get the same effect with an alkaline cleanser like PBW. And then there are the really stubborn ones which I
generally recycle unless I really need them.

Kai

What the heck? Should be fixed now. Thanks for the heads up! Sorry bout that!
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: Hokerer on March 25, 2010, 01:50:33 AM
What the heck? Should be fixed now. Thanks for the heads up! Sorry bout that!

Nope.  Still not fixed.
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: tygo on March 25, 2010, 02:48:58 AM
You guys are silly, the beer goes on the INSIDE of the bottle. No reason to clean off, nor to scrape labels.  ;)

If you bake them in an oven like Kai that might get interesting...
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: wiley on March 25, 2010, 04:52:54 AM
It may sound funny, but try some ammonia. Most craft breweries (using bottles suitable for homebrewing) use an ammonia soluble  glue. And one thing is for sure - ammonia is a cheap alternative to PBW for the purposes of removing labels!
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: dhacker on March 25, 2010, 12:21:49 PM
+1 on not removing labels.  I love seeing the faces of my buddies when they pop open a Heineken only to find a super-hoppy IPA at 95 IBUs and an intense aroma of Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, and Simcoe.

Please, oh please tell me you're not putting a 95 IBU IPA in a green bottle!  :D

Hot water/ Oxi soak. SS scrubbie for the stubborn ones. Rinse, Iodophor and tree.

Oh . . and good article, Mike. . . Except that you misspelled Ox(i) Clean throughout!  ;)
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: MrNate on March 25, 2010, 01:38:43 PM
It may sound funny, but try some ammonia. Most craft breweries (using bottles suitable for homebrewing) use an ammonia soluble  glue. And one thing is for sure - ammonia is a cheap alternative to PBW for the purposes of removing labels!

You know, I had heard this, I bought a bottle of ammonia, but I haven't tried it yet. Old habits and all.
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: babalu87 on March 25, 2010, 02:39:50 PM
The link you posted doesn't work for me.

Getting the labels off depends very much on the brewer and the glue they used. I find that most German bottel labels come right off when soaked in water. For others adding baking soda to the water helps a lot. You may get the same effect with an alkaline cleanser like PBW. And then there are the really stubborn ones which I
generally recycle unless I really need them.

Kai

German beer AND wine producers use a water soluble glue and the labels slip right off.
I find many Belgian producers also use this glue.

Italian winemakers use some sort of two part epoxy that permanently bonds the label to the bottle, French wines are hit or miss as are US producers.

We tried the water soluble glue (tape actually) for something here at work and while it was easy to remove it didnt work, same held true for some golf clubs I re-gripped.

Of course with labels we arent talking about machinery or a golf club handle

Lets get the word out
USE THE CRAPPY GLUE  ;D
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: Kaiser on March 25, 2010, 03:06:26 PM
German brewers wash and reuse bottles. This means the label has to come off easily. I also don’t remember keeping beer in tubs with ice water which is done a lot in the US. That practice requires a stronger glue if you don’t want your label to come off.

Kai

Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: Hokerer on March 25, 2010, 03:48:59 PM
Lets get the word out
USE THE CRAPPY GLUE  ;D

+1 We need to get this word to Weyerbacher in PA and Blue Mountain in VA.  They seem to use the same labels and it takes a small thermonuclear device to get them off.
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: bluesman on March 25, 2010, 04:48:04 PM
Lets get the word out
USE THE CRAPPY GLUE  ;D

+1 We need to get this word to Weyerbacher in PA and Blue Mountain in VA.  They seem to use the same labels and it takes a small thermonuclear device to get them off.

+1

There are certain American breweries that are attempting to permanantly fuse their labels to the glass...and it makes our job damn near impossible.
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: Kaiser on March 25, 2010, 05:01:59 PM
or even worse: print the label onto the glass.

Kai
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: realbeerguy on March 25, 2010, 11:12:47 PM
It may sound funny, but try some ammonia. Most craft breweries (using bottles suitable for homebrewing) use an ammonia soluble  glue. And one thing is for sure - ammonia is a cheap alternative to PBW for the purposes of removing labels!

You know, I had heard this, I bought a bottle of ammonia, but I haven't tried it yet. Old habits and all.

A little amonia in warm water.  Soak overnight.  Labels off.  Been doing this for years.

2 oz amonia/ 5 gal
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: mikebiewer on March 26, 2010, 05:20:36 AM
Or they could be like some of the rogue bottles and paint them.

Its cool, but it will forever say Rogue on it. May or may not be a bad thing depending on your tastes!
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: lostralph on March 26, 2010, 10:33:58 PM
I've been using a mix of B-Brite, similar to PBW, and Oxiclean to clean my bottles and like all of you that generally gets the labels off.  I've noticed that breweries who use the plastic coated labels go for the more difficult adhesives.  A $1 dollar paint scraper gets those off before I wash them.  Any left over adhesives you can clean off using an industrial degreaser/cleaner.
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: enso on March 27, 2010, 12:21:55 AM
Or they could be like some of the rogue bottles and paint them.

Its cool, but it will forever say Rogue on it. May or may not be a bad thing depending on your tastes!

Not if you soak it in star san for a week or so.  Shorter if you use a stronger than recomended solution.  Takes those printed labels off most any bottle.  Sometimes needs a little scrub with a green scrubbie pad.  Other times it wipes right off.

Give it a try.  Personally though, I just recycle those.  I have too many bottles anyway despite kegging.
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: mr_jeffers on March 27, 2010, 04:04:08 AM
I've given up on removing labels.  Seems like more work than it's worth.  Plus, in Maine there's a five cent refund on each bottle (15 on wine and liquor).  If I'm passing out bottles, I tend to pass out the ones with labels, figuring that if I don't get the bottle back, they'll at least return it instead of throwing it in the trash.  Plus the labels might open someone up to a beer they didn't know existed.
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: kborden195 on March 27, 2010, 12:38:57 PM
I have had excellent results with soaking the bottles in a warm Oxiclean solution. I fill a large kitchen pot and soak about eight at a time. Many labels will fall off within a hour or so. Most others require minimal effort.
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: steveo on March 30, 2010, 02:33:09 AM
Hot water and oxi clean work wonders like said above. 1 hour or less and lables are floating in the water.
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: Podo on March 31, 2010, 03:09:21 AM
I have tried all manner of cleaning bottles.  For removing labels and most crud, hot or warm water with oxyclean works better than anything else I've tried.  Labels usually come off in minutes.  I like to run mine through the dishwasher before bottling, and have never had a bottle infection in 10 years of doing this.
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: mikebiewer on March 31, 2010, 04:30:41 AM
I'm an idiot...

I just found my "anti-bacterial" and "extra hot" drying cycles on my dishwasher...

I shouldn't need to make the mess of dipping in sanitizer on bottling day anymore if I just do that.

Again, I feel like an idiot, but I'm glad I found it!
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: rkausch on March 31, 2010, 05:15:59 PM
Mike-
  I've used the sanitize setting on my dishwasher for quite a while now, and have had mixed results.  Here's my process, though I'm going to tweak it with your oxiclean setup.

1.  Rinse bottles as they are used.  Alternately, for the bottles with the crud, rinse with hot water (I have no kids, and can set the water heater to 150 degrees) and scrub until you see no more crud inside.
2.  Run through dishwasher with sanitize setting.  I usually do this with about 6 bottles at a time (as we consume the beer), and store them until brew day.
3.  On brew day, sanitize bottles using star san run through a vinator thingy, or dip soak them in a bucket full of star san.

Rob
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: BrewArk on March 31, 2010, 05:33:20 PM
I've always been afraid that the "rinse - aid" in the dishwasher would hurt foam retention.  Has that been a problem?

(I've never let is stop me from putting my other glassware in the dishmasher)
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: rkausch on March 31, 2010, 05:35:16 PM
I actually didn't think of that.  I have had very inconsistent results with head retention, I wonder if that's the cause?  I'll have to try the next batch without using the dishwasher and see if I get a different outcome.
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: denny on March 31, 2010, 05:39:38 PM
I actually didn't think of that.  I have had very inconsistent results with head retention, I wonder if that's the cause?  I'll have to try the next batch without using the dishwasher and see if I get a different outcome.

Maybe, but it could be your fermentation practices, too.  Here's a great article with some troubleshooting tips....

http://byo.com/stories/article/indices/35-head-retention/697-getting-good-beer-foam-techniques
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: Kaiser on March 31, 2010, 07:38:20 PM
I've always been afraid that the "rinse - aid" in the dishwasher would hurt foam retention.

BTW, most of the time I wash my glasses in the dishwasher including the rinse aid and I don't notice bad head retention.

Kai
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: sheets on April 01, 2010, 09:47:00 PM
hot oxy clean and bleach bath overnight almost always does the trick. pretty crazy watchin what happens to the oxy clean/water solution once u pour a little bleach in too  ;)
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: BrewArk on April 02, 2010, 12:46:39 AM
hot oxy clean and bleach bath overnight almost always does the trick. pretty crazy watchin what happens to the oxy clean/water solution once u pour a little bleach in too  ;)

It may not be intuitive, but (hypochlorite) bleach and peroxide (the active in peroxygen bleaches like oxyclean) deactivate each other:
OCI- + H2O2 → CI- + H2O + O2

What you get is a release of oxygen gas & salt water if your ratio is "right".
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: brewbeard on April 03, 2010, 12:17:11 AM
Besides deactivating each other, bleach plus oxiclean is potentially dangerous, according to this website: (http://www.ascleanedontv.com/oxiclean-faqs.html)

Quote
Can I use it with Chlorine Bleach?

No! Oxiclean is a bleach alternative and works by itself. Do not mix it with bleach as they will neutralize each other and can create dangerous gases and heat. If mixed in a poorly ventilated room, breathing the fumes created by this mixture can be fatal.
Title: Re: How To Clean Bottles For Your Homebrew
Post by: BrewArk on April 05, 2010, 09:59:10 PM
I don't know about fatal.  If they are offering a wager - take it.  You'd have to bring the pH down below neutral to release any chlorine gas.  Maybe they can (pretend to) do that on TV, but you & I are safe.  Last time I checked, oxygen wouldn't be fatal by itself.  As far as the heat goes, it wouldn't be as big a deal as the frothing from the gas being evolved.  The worst thing likely to happen would be burping some of the solution into one's eyes, where they'd likely suffer some irritation.

Quote
Can I use it with Chlorine Bleach?

No! Oxiclean is a bleach alternative and works by itself. Do not mix it with bleach as they will neutralize each other and can create dangerous gases and heat. If mixed in a poorly ventilated room, breathing the fumes created by this mixture can be fatal.