Cleaning Bottles

December 29, 2009

Right before I bottled my first batch, I decided to purchase a Bottle Rinser and Bottle Tree. I was very glad that I did, as they are a time and space saver.

The Bottle Rinser, which can be found for about $15 is a plastic bowl with a spring pump in the middle. The bowl is filled up with a sanitizing solution, and the bottle mouth is placed over the pump. Pushing down on the bottle causes the pump to squirt the sanitizing solution up into the bottle. It is much faster than trying to clean it myself, plus it uses less water and therefore less sanitizer. I use a simple potassium metasulfite solution, while my husband uses Star San, an acid based no rinse sanitizer found at the brew supply store.

The Bottle Tree is a plastic pole with a wide base and little pegs coming out of the pole. Each sterilized bottle mouth is put on a peg so that any sanitizing fluid in it can drain out. The base is designed in such a way that it can hold some fluid without spilling on to the counters. A small Bottle Tree holds 45 bottles and costs about $20, and a large one holds 90 bottles and costs about $32. Personally, I’m nervous to have that tall of a tree that can hold 90 bottles at once, so I use the 45 bottle tree. Maybe I would feel different if we were doing larger batches. All I know is that I don’t have to figure out how to keep sanitized bottles clean yet let them drain out.

The Bottle Rinser is designed to be placed on top of the Tree, but I don’t do that because I find it easier to work down on the counter. I also am afraid of pushing down on the Rinser and accidentally tipping the Tree, even though it has a wide base.

If you keep used bottles for bottling, make sure to wash them out after using. This will get the previous contents out and any germs from the drinker. Plus, it will remove the contents that would attract bugs, especially fruit flies. Since the Bottle Rinser contains and sanitizing solution, it will not clean the bottles or remove any particles. I wash my bottles with dish washing solution and a bottle brush, though my husband is nervous about what dish washing soap might do to his beer. I also have a bottle brush to help scrub at the insides if need be, but it is easier to clean them when you finished using them before anything dries or cakes on.

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