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I'm in the process of brewing several carboys of beer to serve at my wedding in a few months. The catch is that the wedding is on the other side of the country. I'm planning on taking a few days to drive it there myself, and I'm wondering how best to package it.

  • I'm going to be bottling because the logistics and cost of keg fridges will be prohibitive.
  • I'm driving a pickup truck with a cap so vertical stacking isn't necessary (per stuffing bottles in the trunk), but the ride could be bumpy.
  • I can package them as I'd like (with reasonable materials), but I'd prefer not to get into the business of e.g. bubble-wrapping each bottle as I plan to move several hundred bottles.

How can I best ensure that the beer survives the trip without breakage, or loss of containment due to agitating the bottles?

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4 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Put it in cases and wrap the cases in towels to help minimize the mess if you do have some break? I'd be more concerned about temperature problems, honestly.

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I can certainly choose a more Southern route in order to try to avoid temperature extremes, but on that topic: is the main worry there just the expanding volume of frozen beer cracking the bottles or is there potentially some effect on the beer itself? –  Greg Jan 9 '11 at 18:42
    
I was thinking about heat spoilage, rather than cold. I'm not sure of any good portable way to keep it above freezing in the back of a truck when you're stopped at night, though. –  baka Jan 9 '11 at 20:46
    
That makes sense, I guess I didn't specify exactly when I'm traveling - the last week of March - so I'm not anticipating heat being a problem. I guess I should just check the weather forecast and plan a route based on temperature (will make the driving easier anyway). –  Greg Jan 10 '11 at 7:55
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I would suggest force carbing and bottling from a keg instead of bottle conditioning. A long trip may very well stir up any yeast on the bottom too. Also, since this is for a wedding, guests may not necessarily be familiar with bottle conditioned beers and might be put off by sediment regardless.

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Make sure you aren't in violation of any bootlegging laws along the way. Each state will likely have different amounts considered allowed for personal use.

Perhaps your state alcohol board will sell you tax seals/stamps (even though you only have small quantities), so if stopped you can point to them and avoid time spent talking with the local magistrate.

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remember, kids... only break one law at a time. –  baka Jan 12 '11 at 21:21
    
Agreed, although from my initial research it looks as though the situation may be similar to travel with firearms. As long as you are legal at your origin and your destination it's ok to travel through intervening states. Travel through means stops for gas, food, sleep but little else (no stopping at tourist destinations, extended visits, etc.) –  Greg Jan 12 '11 at 23:24
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I would do nothing special. Just put the bottles back in the the same cases that the bottles came in. Beer you buy commercially is separated in 6 packs within the box by just a single layer of card-stock (the six pack carrier) and they do fine. These are driven all over the country and do fine. If you are doing the driving it would be fine too.

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Most commercial beer is pasteurized or filtered, so I'd say that's an apples-and-oranges comparison. –  Nick Jan 11 '11 at 1:36
    
There are also many commercial beers that aren't pasteurized and filtered (Allagash) and are transported just as brewchez suggests. If you're worried about clouding the beer, just give it a day or two to settle out. –  Room3 Jan 12 '11 at 21:41
    
@nick I thought we were talking about safely transporting bottles from point A to point B. And like Room3 said, many craft beers are not pasteurized or filtered. –  brewchez Jan 13 '11 at 14:39
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