Swing-top bottles are a great alternative to traditional cap bottles. They’re perfectly fine for homebrewing and have many uses in the space.
Swing-top bottles are good for homebrewing. Specifically, they’re useful for bottle conditioning and overall canning/storing. They withstand a beer’s carbonation and are easy to clean. They’re also inexpensive in that they’re reusable.
Read on to find out why they’re good for bottle conditioning, how to clean them, and the major pros and cons of the swing top.
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Are swing-top bottles good for bottle conditioning?
Bottle conditioning is a common method of introducing more carbonation in your beer. It’s an important step when it’s included in your brewing process, so it’s important that it’s done right and with the proper equipment. Swing-top bottles do just fine for bottle conditioning.
Swing-top bottles are nice in that they can take on a lot of pressure from your carbonated beer. They’re easy to cap and uncap, and are generally safer from exploding than traditional bottles because of their thickness. Some brewers like this aspect so much that they prefer these types of bottles over others.
Compared to crown cap bottles, though, swing-top bottles may be difficult to find at a reasonable price. A good price for one might come at the compromise of a quality product and a new one might be hard to find. Nevertheless, good deals are out there and are worthwhile if you find them.
Nonetheless, they still work. Some people believe, even, that they’re better than traditional crown caps, but there is little evidence that either is better than the other. So, it’s up to you which one you should use.
How do you seal a swing-top bottle?
Swing-top bottles are generally user-friendly but can offer some complications here and there.
To seal a swing-top bottle, put the flip-top onto the bottle, put the prongs in the holes on each side of the bottle, line up the stopper with the bottle opening, and then push down on the latch. The latch, paired with the rubber gasket on the stopper, makes for an airtight seal.
If you’re more of a visual learner, here’s a video on how to seal a swing-top bottle.
Will swing-top bottles explode?
If you condition your beer properly and follow the standard for it, your swing-top bottle will not explode.
Swing-top bottles are made to withstand large amounts of pressure; more pressure than what your carbonated beer is going to emit. You can even control the amount of carbonation emitted when you open it by removing the swing top slowly, compared to traditional caps that come off all at once.
Your bottle will be safe from the pressurized beer, even if you’re transporting it.
How do you clean swing-top bottles?
Swing-top bottles don’t require any intricate cleaning methods. It’s worth noting that the best way to clean them is by hand, outside of the dishwasher, where you can reach every inch of the bottle. Traditional methods like soap and water, baking soda, or vinegar work best.
Soap and Water
As with most glass, I would first try using soap and warm water. If you have a scrubby that can fit into the bottle, use that to help rid of the residue faster than just letting it sit for a little.
If not, no worries: add soap and hot water to the bottle and shake it for a few seconds. Rinse it thoroughly, as soap residue can have negative effects on your beer.
If the traditional soap and hot water method didn’t do the trick, try using a little bit of baking soda and water. Once added, shake the mixture for 30-60 seconds and then let sit.
Again rinse thoroughly so your next beer doesn’t have any wonky side effects or taste.
Another method you could try is using distilled white vinegar. Similar to the baking soda method, fill the bottle up halfway with equal parts vinegar and water, shake it up for a few seconds, and then let sit.
Rinse thoroughly and maybe even a few times to make sure you get rid of the vinegar smell.
Can you boil swing-top bottles?
You can boil swing-tops when cleaning. The glass is strong and thick enough to withstand boiling water.
Using boiling water on swing-top bottles is a safe approach to cleaning them. It won’t hurt them and is a good method to make sure the tough-to-reach inside of the bottle is spotless.
Since these bottles are so thick, boiling water is perfectly fine to use when cleaning them.
Are swing-top bottles dishwasher safe?
Swing-top bottles are dishwasher safe, but it isn’t practical to clean them that way.
Although they’re dishwasher safe, swing-top bottles are best cleaned by hand. Inside the dishwasher, the insides of the bottle will be hard to reach for cleaning. Even the actual swing top is easier to clean outside of the dishwasher.
Although you can put them in the dishwasher, these bottles are better cleaned by hand.
Pros of using swing-top bottles for homebrew
There are tons of great uses for swing-top bottles and there are few reasons why you shouldn’t use them. A few of these include their reusability, durability, gifting, and bottle conditioning.
Swing-top bottles are reusable. The bottles are durable and the tops are ready for the next brew once you clean them. The individual rubber gasket for the stopper is replaceable, too, making it even more long-lasting.
With reusability, comes sustainability. These bottles are good for the environment in that they aren’t thrown out after each use and can be recycled. You get to reuse the caps, too, which is also good for the environment.
Since these bottles are so thick, they can withstand lots of wear and tear. You can afford to knock these bottles around a little bit without them breaking. They’ve even been known to take falls off of countertops and not break. Disclaimer: don’t try this at home.
They make great gifts
These bottles make great gifts. They’re aesthetically pleasing and they hold beer: what’s not to love? Plus, they can be repurposed by the recipient for whatever they’d like. Some are customizable, too, so you can add a special touch to them.
Like I mentioned earlier, these bottles work well for bottle conditioning. They can withstand lots of pressure and it’s easy to control the amount of pressure let out when opening. They’re also great for storing and canning in general.
Cons of using swing-top bottles for homebrew
These bottles are awesome but, as with most things in homebrewing, they come with their fair share of cons. They can sometimes be difficult to get all the way clean and they can be expensive when bought new.
Tough to clean
Any bottle is tough to clean, so this is a minor and expected con. They’re tough to reach inside of and get clean, especially considering that you’re using them for beer. The tops can be tough to clean, too, since the best way to clean them is by taking them all the way off the bottle.
However, there are user-friendly cleaning methods for these bottles.
Can be expensive
These bottles can be tough to find at an affordable price and they can be an intimidating purchase. Once you get one though, the money you save from reusing them will be worth it.
You might have to buy new rubber gaskets every once in a while, though, which might deter some people. Try to buy them from a local bar or restaurant that’s trying to get rid of them.