How to Sanitize Beer Bottles for Home Brewing

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If you brew your own beer at home, sanitizing your beer bottles, whether they are brand new or picked up from the liquor store back room, is vital in getting that beer from the carboy to the table. Most home brewers have suffered the loss of at least one batch of beer due to unsanitary conditions, so be sure your beer bottles are perfectly clean for your precious brew. Here is how to sanitize your beer bottles.

  • Clean out the tub. You are going to need a big space to hold at least two cases worth of beer bottles, and the bathtub is the perfect spot. You may think that is the least sanitary spot in the house, but it won’t be by the time we are done. First, do a deep clean of your tub and make sure that the plug fits tight so that you don’t lose your sanitary water bath for your beer bottles. Scrub the tub clean, and then fill it with cold water and an entire bottle of bleach to make it sparkle. Let the solution sit for at least 24 hours, then rinse it.

  • Fill the tub with a bleach mixture. Use one tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water. A half full bath tub is about 50 gallons of water. Fifty tablespoons is about 3 cups of bleach. You can also purchase a sanitizing liquid made just for home brewers, but bleach works just as well.

  • Haul your bottles into the bathroom and lay them into the tub, filling them with sanitizing solution. Bottles need to stay in the solution for at least 20 minutes. Don’t forget to sanitize all your other equipment as well. Just lay them in the tub with your bottles.

  • Rinse the bottles thoroughly in cold water. Be careful not to touch the lips of the beer bottles with your hands. Maintain good sanitary conditions until the beer is capped in the bottle.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you get your bottles used from a liquor store, be sure to tell the clerk you are a home brewer and you can’t use twist-off bottles. The clerk will also be sure then to get you the cleanest used bottles he has.
  • Be sure to date each bottle by writing the date with a marker on the cap.
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