Author Topic: Belgian Corked/Caged Bottles  (Read 2053 times)

Offline Phil_M

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Belgian Corked/Caged Bottles
« on: March 30, 2016, 02:07:13 PM »
I've got a bunch of these bottles. I've used them in the past for a Saison, and never got the corks to "mushroom" out and able to be twisted out by hand.

I'm not certain what carb level I targeted, I think it was 3-3.5. Should I up the carbonation level? Is there some trick to getting the corks to work right? I don't want to push the carb level up too high, I'm not quite sure how much the bottles can take.
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Belgian Corked/Caged Bottles
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2016, 03:09:42 PM »
If you're talking about the Belgian bottles with the mushroom tops or champagne bottles then they can hold considerably more pressure than 3-4 volumes.

Three volumes should be enough to create the mushroom if you are leaving enough of the cork exposed above the mouth of the bottle and the wire cage is tied down sufficiently. The only other thing I can think of is whether you are using the right size cork for those bottles. The Belgian bottles need slightly larger corks than champagne bottles (and will crack champagne bottles if you try to use them interchangably).
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Offline homoeccentricus

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Re: Belgian Corked/Caged Bottles
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2016, 03:20:21 PM »
Why don't you simply use the larger 29 mm caps?
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Offline Phil_M

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Re: Belgian Corked/Caged Bottles
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2016, 03:27:59 PM »
Why don't you simply use the larger 29 mm caps?

There's no crown for the cap, just the rounded edge. Basically just like the 750ml Chimay bottles.

As for sizing the corks, I'm not 100% sure. I know they were corks for Belgian beer bottles as opposed to champagne corks, but I don't know that they were an exact match for the bottles. These were the only bottles and corks my LHBS offered, I assumed they'd be compatible.

When corking the previous batch, I left enough cork exposed to make the cages rest just under the lip that holds them in place. Just enough space for it to wiggle back and forth, not really enough to measure.
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline homoeccentricus

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Re: Belgian Corked/Caged Bottles
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2016, 03:37:21 PM »
Frank P.

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Offline Phil_M

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Re: Belgian Corked/Caged Bottles
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2016, 08:39:03 PM »
The corks I've got are the same size, 1 inch/25.5mm in diameter. FWIW, the neck of the bottle is 3/4 of an inch in diameter.
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline smkranz

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Re: Belgian Corked/Caged Bottles
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2016, 09:01:27 PM »
I've got a bunch of these bottles. I've used them in the past for a Saison, and never got the corks to "mushroom" out and able to be twisted out by hand.

I'm not certain what carb level I targeted, I think it was 3-3.5. Should I up the carbonation level? Is there some trick to getting the corks to work right? I don't want to push the carb level up too high, I'm not quite sure how much the bottles can take.

Here's a photo of a Belgian Dubbel of mine which is corked/caged (on the right), next to a bottle of Lost Abbey.  I've been using Belgian corks/cages sold at MLHBS for a bunch of years, and I use a "champagne" floor corker with the plunger set at the depth which leaves enough cork stick out.  The "mushroom" effect looks slightly less than the commercially bottled, and I try not to over-carbonate. 

They are pretty snug and more difficult to get out than most commercially corked beers, but not all.
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Offline Phil_M

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Re: Belgian Corked/Caged Bottles
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2016, 12:09:31 AM »
Hmm. Mine never even took the "wiggle room" out of the cages. I didn't use a floor corker though, I used a Colona corker/capper and a 3D printed spacer that a friend help me develop. Wonder if that has something to do with it.
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline majorvices

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Re: Belgian Corked/Caged Bottles
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2016, 11:14:31 AM »
Are you using the champagne corker? I bought the Italian floor (champagne corker) years ago, it creates the mushroom by compressing the cork as it squeezes it in. Afaik you can't do it without the proper corker.

There is also a tool out the that makes twisting the corks super easy. I think Williams brewing has it.

Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Belgian Corked/Caged Bottles
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2016, 12:51:48 PM »
Looks to me like the corks are in too far. I did the same with half of my last C&C bottling run. It's super sweet to need a wine key to open your C&C homebrew

Adjust the nut on the corker that regulates the depth it pushes into the bottle, and you're good to go.

Look at a commercial bottle for reference. The cage should barely fit over the cork and lip of the bottle.
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Offline Phil_M

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Re: Belgian Corked/Caged Bottles
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2016, 03:42:59 PM »
Then it has to be something to do with the Colona capper/corker then. Maybe I'll try and spring for a floor corker before bottling time for my super saison.
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline smkranz

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Re: Belgian Corked/Caged Bottles
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2016, 11:34:39 PM »
It seems to me that the "mushroom" effect would occur no matter what corker you use, as long as it's a Belgian cork going into a Belgian bottle.  The top portion of the cork will just naturally be wider than the neck of the bottle.

One thing that I have learned to work on for each batch, is to adjust the depth of the plunger to leave as much cork exposed as possible while still being able to pull the cage down over the rim of the bottle, then tightening the cage.

There are no good tools readily available to pull the cage down and tighten, and also leave you with a large enough wire loop to easily unwind the cage when you want to open it.  The ones with a wooden handle that are available at LHBS work great, but they leave you with a loop that is very thin and it hurts to open it.  My go-to tool for this purpose is a 1" hole boring drill bit with a long stem that is about 1/4" in diameter.  It has plenty of length to grip and pull down on the cage, twist it 5-6 times to tighten, and leaves a nice round loop in the wire which is easy to open. 
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Offline Phil_M

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Re: Belgian Corked/Caged Bottles
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2016, 11:45:08 PM »
I actually made a tool to tighten the cages with a larger "loop" than the common tool.

Bought a 3/8" ( IIRC) U bolt and hammered one end into a handle. Cut the threads off the other side so the loop slides off easily, and presto!
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Belgian Corked/Caged Bottles
« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2016, 03:05:10 AM »
I've learned to keep my caging tool with my cork screw, just twist the other way to un-do

Offline smkranz

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Re: Belgian Corked/Caged Bottles
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2016, 11:08:02 AM »
I actually made a tool to tighten the cages with a larger "loop" than the common tool.

Bought a 3/8" ( IIRC) U bolt and hammered one end into a handle. Cut the threads off the other side so the loop slides off easily, and presto!

Phil, could we get a pic of your tool (oooh, that sounded a bit personal :P).To borrow a phrase from another forum I read...

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