I’ve made beer twice in my life so I’m an expert and would like to share my learnings with you. It turns out there is a lot more to beer bottle preparation than I knew. When the guys told me to start saving beer bottles, I did what I think most people would do. I kept the old box, rinsed out the bottles when I was done with them and dropped the bottles in right side up. Well what do you think happens when you put a slightly wet bottle in a dark place and leave it for a while? MOLD. It was pretty gross, but luckily they were salvagable. Here’s the process for reusing a beer bottle.
- Drink the beer.
- Rinse out the bottle.
- Let the bottle drain out by storing it upside down in such a way that air can get into the bottle. A dish rack works well for this.
- Once dry, store the bottle top down back in the box.
- Fill a tub or bin with water and add a scoop or two of OxyClean.
- Dump the bottles in. You can do a bunch at a time. Just make sure they are all submerged.
- Leave that to sit for 24 hours.
- Many of the labels should be floating now and if they aren’t they should almost fall off the bottles.
- Run the bottles under hot water and scrub off any remaining glue. Also rinse out the inside thoroughly.
- Dry the bottles again. I like to empty the dishwasher and stack all the bottles in there and let them dry overnight.
- Store the bottles upside down in the boxes again.
We brew our beer at Gallagher’s, and one of the many pieces of equipment they provide is a bottle sanitizer. In about 10 minutes, it will sanitize a hundred or so bottles. Note that this is sanitization only, not cleaning. You can’t put any moldy bottles or bottles with labels in the machine.
The best part about all this is that it’s relatively inexpensive. If you buy clean/empty bottles at Gallagher’s they charge you $1. That’s about what I pay for the bottle AND the beer at the store so by recycling the bottle, I’m basically getting free beer!