7

I started brewing less than a year ago. In that time I've acquired about 60 swing top bottles, and filled about 200, I estimate I've filled each bottle less than 5 times. The last batches I made were a biere de Garde, an ESB and a Xmas ale. Unfortunately the carbonation of the biere de Garde was totally lacking, essentially on a par with the bitter, which I put down to some kind of mistake (not enough sugar, not enough time at room temp) until I started cracking open the crown cap bottles. One of them was a gusher and the others had big foamy euro style heads. I now believe the swing tops are to blame and were not holding pressure.

My question therefore is:

How long should swing tops be viable for?

And also: Is there anything I can do to improve their performance short of replacing all the seals? Is there anything I've done that could be to blame for them having deteriorated? I usually just rinse bottles immediately after use then fill with milton/VWP for 15 mins and rinse immediately before filling, and leave the tops in a bowl of the same.

  • I've been using Grolsch bottles for 7+ years. The only time I had an issue was when the fridge was at freezing temperatures and that probably pushed beer out from under the seals. – Robert Jan 7 at 3:38
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It is a mechanical cap, as long as the mecanism and rubber is good, the bottle will be good. Changing the rubber seal is one way to expand the life of these bottles, however you should inspect the seals and if the rubber has not dried out, then it is still good.

Sometimes I will just flip the rubber seal around to make sure it is not always compressed in the same spot.

Also, if I feel one bottle doesn't seal as well as before, I will use a pair of pliers to bend the wire mecanism a little to make it tighter.

5

If it's a quality Grolsch bottle, it will serve you for years. If it's a generic swing-top bottle from LHBS, don't expect much. Get a large pack of replacement seals off eBay and replace a seal on a bottle once you suspect that it doesn't hold pressure.

My protocol for bottles is: 1. straight after use just rinse with tap water, then put into the dishwasher together with the rest of everyday stuff, wash at 60C, 2. collect and store opened, 3. when there are enough bottles to fill the entire dishwasher, put them all in and wash without detergent at 70C, 4. collect, cover the bottleneck and the (open) swing top with a piece of cling wrap and store like that until bottling. Never had infection issues.

  • They are LHBS brown bottles. Maybe I'll get new seals before I bottle my current batch then.... – David Liam Clayton Jan 8 at 19:47
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Swing-top bottle seals are inexpensive, so replace on a regular basis, say every third or fourth bottling. One method of identifying worn seals is to close the cap when the bottle is empty and clean. If the seal is effective, some effort is required to close the cap. If the seal is worn, much less effort is required and the seal should be replaced.

Seal life can be extended by reversing the seals after each use, but this method certainly does not double the life of the seal. Up to the individual to decide if it is worthwhile.

  • I guess these might have been filled four times. This makes me wonder why not just use crown caps. The ROI on these bottles isn't great at the above rate – David Liam Clayton Jan 8 at 19:49

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