The best glass bottles for home brewing are dark-colored large long-neck bottles.
Many home brewers prefer buying commercial beer and recycling the bottles. You have to sanitize the bottles either way, so it’s the same amount of work.
But if you’re planning on labeling, keep in mind that commercial labels can be tricky to remove. Don’t buy beer for the bottles until you know which ones have the easiest labels to remove. It’s good to know that beer availability changes by region. This homebrew StackExchange about beer with easy-to-remove labels by region is a helpful resource when looking for bottles.
If that sounds like too much work, there’s also nothing wrong with buying the bottle you need.
Either way, I’m going to tell you below what to look for in your bottles. Following this simple guide will give you the time and energy to focus on the fun part; making the beer.
What Colour Should my Glass Bottles be for Home Brewing?
Unless you’re certain you’re beer storage area is light-free, then never use clear bottles. This is also important if you’re planning on gifting bottles.
Exposing beer to light can cause it to spoil, so go for dark or amber-colored glass.
Home brewing is hard work, and it would be disappointing to find an entire batch spoiled because of this.
Home Brewing with Caps or Swing-tops?
It doesn’t matter whether you use caps or swing-tops. You’ll figure out over time which you prefer. Each method has its pros and cons.
I prefer swing-tops because they’re easier and cheaper than capping. If you decide to bottle this way, you save yourself the cost of the capper and caps. Of course, the bottles are more expensive initially, but unlike caps, you can re-use them.
Another benefit of swing-tops is they’re easier to open. This is particularly helpful if you accidentally make a bunch of bottle bombs.
Carbonation can be tricky and has a learning curve. You’ll be thankful for swing-tops if your batch ends up being over-carbonated beer that you have to open over the sink. Swing-tops allow you to open the beer slowly, releasing the pressure little by little, allowing you to re-seal each time. It’ll result in less beer loss.
If you capped the over-carbonated beer, there’s no going back from the foam explosion once you pop the cap.
The downside to swing-tops is that the seal can be faulty. This can result in carbonation being inconsistent throughout the batch. If the seal isn’t tight enough, you might end up with flat beer.
Capping is more work during bottling but often results in a tighter seal. Carbonation is more consistent this way, especially for beginners.
The best advice I can offer is to start with swing-tops for a small first batch, then decide. If you’re happy, you won’t need to buy a capper or caps. If you find your beer isn’t carbonated enough, then your swing-top seals might be faulty.
If you aren’t sure and want to compare, there’s nothing wrong with doing a few swing-tops and a few capped bottles. This is more expensive but will give you the ability to test and compare.
What Size and Shape of Glass Bottle is Best for Home Brewing?
Long neck bottles are the best. Sizes range from 12 to 22 oz.
Try to use bulbous bottles, as this little spot serves a purpose. As the beer is pouring out, the bulb catches sediment that you don’t want in your drink.
Size doesn’t matter that much, but bigger bottles means fewer bottles to sanitize. I’m a fan of less work. Larger bottles also look nicer if you’re planning on gifting them.
If you’re caping the beer, bigger bottles also means buying fewer caps, again saving you time and money.
What are the Best Swing-top Glass Bottles for Home Brewing?
Unfortunately, finding a decent swing-top bottle is tricky because there’s no way to test the seal unless you’ve bottled a batch.
If you’re looking at purchasing new swing-tops, I’ve had success with the G Francis Swing Top Bottles w/Caps 16.9oz 12 pack (ASIN: B01JP78A50).
They’re a good size with decent seals. My only complaint (which is the same for all shipped bottles) is they break easily during shipping. I’ve received my fair share of boxes with broken glass inside.
What are the Best Glass Bottles for Home Brewing Using Caps?
It’s challenging to find larger long-neck bottles. Since I prefer swing tops, I also don’t look for them as often.
If capping is your preference, I recommend these 22 oz bottles.
I bought them, and use them from time to time. They are a decent quality bottle. One note of caution, though; because the glass isn’t as thick, you have to be careful during capping because they tend to chip easily.