I bottle about a third of my batches in longnecks with crown caps. On my most recent brew (that's carbing up now) I forgot to sanitize the caps. Didn't realize this until I had bottled everything and was getting ready to cap the bottles and reached into my bucket of sanitized gear to grab a few caps and... oops!

I normally sanitize more than the needed number of caps, and had enough caps that were sanitized months ago to cap everything up.

My question is that if the beer stays upright (in cases/crates) and the beer doesn't sit on the caps, do I need to worry about infection, or should I just meditate to the mantra Charlie Papazian gave us all?

  • possible duplicate of Boiling bottle caps – Nick Jan 20 '11 at 17:57
  • If that's the consensus, I'll kill the question, but I read that one as boiling specific whereas mine is more general. – Pulsehead Jan 20 '11 at 18:31

Unlikely to be a problem. In an earlier question I found that some pro-brewers don't sanitize their caps at all. Neither do some home brewers.

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    I don't know if I really believe that to be true about pro-brewers and their caps. I know the caps come in somewhat clean and free of bugs but... it just doesn't seem logical to me. Most breweries worry alot about shelf stability. Putting non sanitized caps on a bottle of unpasteurized beer just doesn't make sense. I am going to start asking around at beer fests and see what my favorite brewers do. – brewchez Jan 20 '11 at 17:51
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    It's unlikely to be a problem in this case but ultimately I don't think it's a good idea to tell people that it's not necessary when it certainly can't hurt and will build good brewing habits. – Northern Brewer Chris Jan 20 '11 at 17:57
  • I with Northern Brewer Chris on this subject. The most vital thing you can learn to make great beer is sanitation. A good sanitizer is a good brewer. A good brewer is a good sanitizer. – Hop the Mad Alchemist Jan 21 '11 at 15:43

I think a factor in whether/whether-not is how your caps are packaged when you buy them.

I buy from a bulk bin at the local homebrew--you stick your hand in and grab them fistful at a time. Since there's been who-knows-how-many other hands in that bin I insist on sanitizing.

If your caps are pre-packaged when you buy them then there's likely less risk they're contaminated.

  • but who knows if someone sneezed into the bin of caps at the packaging facility? – baka Jan 20 '11 at 20:17
  • @baka -- a very valid point, which is why I always sanitize my caps. I also sanitize all new equipment before use; I never trust that it's ready to use out of the box – STW Jan 20 '11 at 20:21

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