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I am approaching bottling time for my "ordinary" bitter and was wondering, does bottle size (i.e. volume) have any appreciable effect on the final beer?

I have been working hard collecting pint-sized (~500 ml) bottles by drinking craft beer, but I have also seen 1 litre bottles and 330 ml ones that could work. Other than the sediment to beer ratio (which could get annoying for very small bottles) does size matter?

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Not so big that you can't drink it all :) –  Tim Holt Jun 29 '11 at 22:46
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3 Answers

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Size doesn't matter. It's completely up to you to use whatever you want. If you're bottling correctly, the sediment-to-beer ration should stay the same between bottles. That's because by the time you bottle, the beer should have fallen very clear with very little yeast still suspended. That tiny bit of yeast will wake up in the bottle, grow and divide as needed, ferment the priming sugar, then drop to the bottom. You should end up with a very, very thin layer of yeast on the bottom of the bottle regardless of whether you bottle in 330s, 250s, 500s, or whatever. When you get good at pouring your well-conditioned homebrew, you'll leave no more than 1/8" of beer on the bottom of the bottle and get little-to-no yeast in your glass. If you have more than a paper-thin layer of yeast on the bottom, you have some work to do on your process.

All that said, I like to bottle nearly everything in standard US 12 ouncers. They fit nicely in cardboard 6pack carriers that I can give to friends.

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you give beer to your friends? ;-) –  Nathan Koop Jun 29 '11 at 18:55
    
Well, I give beer to people in hope they'll be my friends. (bit.ly/h2m9Yw) –  JackSmith Jun 29 '11 at 19:00
    
Thanks for your answer JackSmith. Yes, what you say about the amount of sediment makes perfect sense - is should just be proportional to the volume. I suppose I was thinking that, with already small bottles, if you have to discard 1/8 or so due to sediment at the bottom you're not going to have much beer per bottle! –  Poshpaws Jun 29 '11 at 19:04
    
(as an aside) I've never lamented too greatly the loss of the bottom portion of my beer. –  Nathan Koop Jun 29 '11 at 19:07
    
So, based upon the above, should we expect a correlation between the number of friends, and a user's reputation on these forums ;) –  Poshpaws Jun 29 '11 at 19:08
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I would take into account the strength of the brew, too. I make the odd gallon of Barley Wine and bottle it in 190ml 'nips'. At 8-9% ABV it is not such a good idea to serve up a 500ml bottle - certainly not before operating machinery. Though, you could share with a friend (Funny how they come out of the woodwork for a free beer, isn't it?) On the other hand a bottle of 3.5% Pale would be pointless in a nip.

As for how bottle size affects the final beer? I suppose in theory a barrel is a big bottle, and the conditioning does differ, but common bottle sizes, no.

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+1 Good point. Probably should have rephrased my question "does bottle size have any appreciable effect on ability to drive tractors"! –  Poshpaws Jun 30 '11 at 14:47
    
:-D............ –  iWeasel Jun 30 '11 at 16:56
    
Please tell me, how do you acquire 190 ml bottles? I like this idea, especially for brews I'd like to keep for a year or two. –  Mlusby Jul 5 '11 at 15:25
    
@Mlusby - That would be how 'did' I acquire, for I have not seen any for a while. I used to buy (back in the '80s) a Barley Wine called Gold Label, in 190ml bottles - well it was 10.9% ABV. I just got drunk and kept the bottles. It is only sold in cans now, I think. I would love to get hold of some more as a few got broken - well it was 10.9%! :-D –  iWeasel Jul 5 '11 at 17:02
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I use mostly 12 oz (355ml) bottles.

I do collect larger bottles and Grolsch bottles too. I typically wait until I've got like 10-20 of these bottles then do a large portion of my batch into these as it makes bottling faster. I also often drink with friends so having a 700 ml bottle is easy to split between two or three people.

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+1 Certainly larger bottles save some bottling effort. –  Poshpaws Jun 30 '11 at 14:45
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