Author Topic: Corking Belgian Bottles  (Read 2428 times)

Offline Joe Sr.

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Corking Belgian Bottles
« on: January 04, 2013, 08:29:56 AM »
Does anyone know if you can make it work with a standard corker?

Or do you really need a floor corker or colonna capper?

I've always used the plastic corks, but have been considering moving a bit more upscale.  And, of course, I inherited a floor corker years ago (didn't know what it was at the time) that likely got tossed in a move.  Haven't seen it since 2000 or so.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Corking Belgian Bottles
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2013, 08:35:02 AM »
I've always used a hand corker, its pretty simple just push it in halfway.  I usually use this for my Belgian bottles, use plastic champagne corks for the champagne style bottles.  Cages for both of course.

Theres a way to do it with a floor corker but I think it requires you use a spacer on top of the bottle.  The jaws that squeeze the cork are right above a plate that has a hole only as large as the compressed cork, so you can't just push a cork in halfway or it gets stuck in this plate.
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Corking Belgian Bottles
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2013, 08:45:18 AM »
Cool.  That's good news.

Do you use one like this? http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/winemaking/wine-equipment/wine-bottling/corkers/double-lever-corker.html

There's a guy on CL selling one for $15 and he's nearby.  Seems like a low investment to give it a try.

12 years later I still kick myself about that floor corker...  There's a couple other things I'm missing, too, so I may have just lost a box in that move.  I really need to get over it.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Corking Belgian Bottles
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2013, 12:11:30 PM »
Honestly I don't know about it.  I use a single lever like this:
http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/winemaking/wine-equipment/wine-bottling/corkers/gilda-single-lever-corker.html
Its no piece of cake to use this, the Belgian corks are pretty tough to compress and pushing down while holding the thing on the top of the bottle is a challenge.

I think the double lever would work, I'm guessing it has a bevelled hole that compressed the cork as it is pushed down through.  You'd need to go partially in, then bring the corker up as you squeeze the rest of the cork through the narrowest of the hole so as not to drive the cork all the way in.  Its kind of the same challenge as the floor corker, squeezing the cork all the way out the unit without driving it all the way into the bottle.
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Corking Belgian Bottles
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2013, 01:17:35 PM »
Most of the reviews for that double lever job say it doesn't push the cork in all the way.

Sounds like it might be perfect...
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline snowtiger87

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Re: Corking Belgian Bottles
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2013, 03:53:50 PM »
I have heard the the doubel level corker is quite fragile and often breaks when usinig it for the larger Belgian corks. My LHBS rents out this one : http://www.homebrewing.org/product.asp?itemid=505&utm_source=google&utm_medium=ProductAds&gclid=CPqA9pflz7QCFeZDMgodk3MAbQ

Which is the one I have and highly recommend if you are going to be corking Belgian beers often.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Corking Belgian Bottles
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2013, 03:57:52 PM »
I doubt it would be often, and I could get by with just using the plastic corks as I have been doing rather than drop $120.  Lots of other things to put my money into.  Like more kegs.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Corking Belgian Bottles
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2013, 09:35:22 AM »
I have heard the the doubel level corker is quite fragile and often breaks when usinig it for the larger Belgian corks. My LHBS rents out this one : http://www.homebrewing.org/product.asp?itemid=505&utm_source=google&utm_medium=ProductAds&gclid=CPqA9pflz7QCFeZDMgodk3MAbQ

Which is the one I have and highly recommend if you are going to be corking Belgian beers often.
I have that one for my wine, haven't figured out how to use it for half-pushed Belgians but I know there is suppposed to be a way.
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Corking Belgian Bottles
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2013, 11:08:47 AM »
I doubt it would be often, and I could get by with just using the plastic corks as I have been doing rather than drop $120.  Lots of other things to put my money into.  Like more kegs.

Yes and no.

I have used plastic champagne corks with ok success in Belgian bottles. One hurdle is that there is not a uniform mouth size. Some bottles have openings that are way too big and it's obvious you won't get a seal. Some bottles are just slightly too big and you think you get a seal but end up with flat beer. Most bottles, however, do seal ok. It's sort of trial and error. I tend to de-label my bottles so I don't know for sure which brewers use bottles that work with the plastic corks but I seem to think the Chimay and Ommegang bottles are all ok.

The other problem is that the plastic corks don't have as large or tall of whatever the part sticking out above the bottle is called. So as a result, when you put on the cage it isn't a tight fit and the cork will end up pushing up due to carbonation pressure and that will create a sufficient seal (if the bottle has an appropriate mouth size) and the cage will hold the cork in place. The problem is if you push down on the cork at all it will vent the bottles, so you have to be careful that the bottles always remain upright and care is taken to make sure nothing ever presses against the cork. That means you definitely cannot ship the bottles and most likely you will not want to gift the bottles to unsuspecting friends who may not take as good of care with the bottles and then think you can't carbonate beer.

tl;dr - the plastic corks are ok if you're just bottling highly carbonated beer for home purposes and you're willing to risk an occasional bottle of flat beer.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Corking Belgian Bottles
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2013, 11:11:39 AM »
I have heard the the doubel level corker is quite fragile and often breaks when usinig it for the larger Belgian corks. My LHBS rents out this one : http://www.homebrewing.org/product.asp?itemid=505&utm_source=google&utm_medium=ProductAds&gclid=CPqA9pflz7QCFeZDMgodk3MAbQ

Which is the one I have and highly recommend if you are going to be corking Belgian beers often.
I have that one for my wine, haven't figured out how to use it for half-pushed Belgians but I know there is suppposed to be a way.

I have read mixed reviews of success with the double lever. I haven't heard of them breaking but I could see how that would happen.

For the floor corkers I always read about people putting a drilled stopper on the plunger so it can only push the cork in halfway into the bottle. Not entirely sure how that works because I don't own one but that seems to be the universally adopted technique.
Heck yeah I blog about homebrewing: Brain Sparging on Brewing but I'm also a lawyer: The Kielich Law Firm

Offline snowtiger87

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Re: Corking Belgian Bottles
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2013, 02:14:58 PM »
I just adjust the spacer screw to the correct level so I get the cork inserted like I want - nomally about 2/3 of the way in.
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Fermenting: McChouffe clone, Samiclaus clone
Conditioning: Belgian Tripel, Barrel Aged Baltic Porter - in sherry barrel, Belgain Easter Ale
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Re: Corking Belgian Bottles
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2013, 11:19:32 AM »
Honestly I don't know about it.  I use a single lever like this:
http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/winemaking/wine-equipment/wine-bottling/corkers/gilda-single-lever-corker.html
I have this one and I hate it. Anyone willing to drive to my house can have it for free.
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