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I bottle condition my beer, and in the past, I've always just reused commercial beer bottles (I never understood paying for empty beer bottles when I could buy them full of tasty beer!) Are there are any particular commercial or microbreweries you all recommend?

I'm looking for recommendations that are preferably 12oz, dark, and non-twist-off. Also, I won't complain if the beer they contain tastes good!

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See also: homebrew.stackexchange.com/questions/1671/… –  Perrin255 Feb 7 '11 at 19:36

8 Answers 8

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Here is a list of bottles and their characteristics for brewing. I highly recommend updating the list with any information you have:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Bottles#Characteristics_of_Recycled_Bottles

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If you can get Grolsch Amber in the 16 oz swing-top bottles, they are awesome. They're heavier-duty than most 12 oz non-returnables and with the swing-top you don't have to worry about capping (and most LHBSs carry the rubber washers for them if yours get old and crack). The only drawback is that the sides are not smooth, so on-the-bottle labeling doesn't work too well, but you can always tie labels to the arms of the swingtop.

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I use the Grolsch swing tops aswell, so far they have worked great. No issues with carbonation etc. –  idiom Nov 11 '10 at 12:28

They're all good if they have paper labels. There's an easy trick to get them off.

  1. Get a cheap 5 gallon bucket from home depot (or where ever).
  2. Get some oxyclean.
  3. Fill the bucket with a water/oxyclean solution.
  4. Put it somewhere out of the way.
  5. When you're done with a beer, put the bottle in the bucket.

Within a couple of days the labels should just float to the top.

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Do you leave this solution sitting for weeks at a time? It seems like you'd get mold or other nastiness. –  Dustin Rasener Jan 27 '12 at 4:11
    
The oxyclean water won't get nasties, so long as there's enough oxyclean in the solution. I should have made a step 6 though: clean your beer bottles thoroughly after soaking. –  PMV Jan 27 '12 at 19:46

I have found that Dogfish Head's labels come off very easily after soaking in warm water. They are my favorite, since I love the beer, and they are so easy to clean.

Sam Adams, on the other hand, uses some sort of indestructible glue to hold their labels on. While I enjoy their beer as well, I pass on reusing their bottles.

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+1 The Dogfish 60 Minute only has a single label to remove. –  jscott Nov 12 '10 at 17:52
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The Sam Adams bottles are ridiculous. If you're in the south, Sweetwater bottles from Atlanta are easy off as well. –  Ell Jan 21 '11 at 20:42

I've found most American micro/mini-brew bottles work well. Breckenridge labels sometimes come off while I'm still drinking the beer. One type I found didn't work well was Warsteiner. The flange on the neck of the bottle was too short for my capper to work properly, and I wasted far too many caps trying to get those bottles capped. If you have a bench capper, it wouldn't be a problem though.

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Swing-top bottles are the best, especially "Howe Sound" bottles (which are a full litre [2 pints], and come filled with excellent beer). "Red Stripe" bottles are really easy to cap with a "Red Baron"-style capper, and are brown which prevents skunking.

Also, for completeness, if you have the right kind of caps, "Red Baron"-style cappers typically seal twist-off bottles very well.

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What's a "Red Baron"-style capper? –  theraccoonbrew Mar 11 '11 at 20:49
    
It's an inexpensive, hand-held, red plastic capper with two swinging arms. For instance, homebrewit.com/aisle/p/4016 . –  Nick Mar 12 '11 at 5:01

I can say the most painful labels i've had to remove are from Summit Brewing...with the easiest being New Belgium, O'Dells, and Bear Republic.

Even after a healthy PBW soak, i still have to take out a scrub pad to remove Summit's paper and adhesive.

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IMHO, the best method for getting labels off of beer bottles is (as is said above) to use local/small craft brewery bottles, fill a dishwasher with them, run it, and remove toward the end of the 'steam' part of the cycle. Any labels that aren't completely off will just come off, and any residual glue/adhesive can be scrubbed with a brillo pad. Boom, you have the same thing you can buy from a LHBS.

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