In this article, we’ll give you some great places where you can get bottles for home brewing.
When you are just starting out as a homebrewer, you want to find ways to learn the process without spending a ton of money. For most of us, that means we bottle our first batches of homebrew beer.
In our first few years of homebrewing, until we got a bigger space to brew, and found a reasonably priced, used kegerator, we bottled. As a matter of fact, our brew shed is still full of bottles. Bottles are handy now, especially if we want to brew a holiday beer to give as gifts.
Bottles aren’t hard to find, and they really aren’t terribly expensive, so buying bottles isn’t a huge cost when you’re starting out. However, you may want to take some time to find free bottles when you can. It will save you money, and it’s a nice thing to do for the environment.
Here are some thoughts about where to get bottles for home brewing.
4 Great Places to Get Bottles for Home Brewing
1. Purchase New
This is an obvious place to start, but here we go.
If you’re just starting out as a home brewer you can buy your first cases of bottles. This is what we did when we were starting out. There are some advantages to buying new.
You get the exact bottles that you want. And there are a lot of options. Did you run out and buy a capper? Well, you’ll want bottles that accept crimp-on caps. Don’t want to invest in a capper, the swing-top bottle is a great option.
By purchasing new bottles you get exactly what you want, there is minimal prep, and you can be bottling in no time. Your local homebrew store should have a variety of bottles to choose from.
2. Buy Used
This isn’t our favorite idea, but if you’re looking for a specific type of bottles such as swing-top growlers or 20-ounce Belgian bottles, you may have good luck finding them used from another homebrewer.
Lots of homebrewers sell their bottles when they move to kegging their beer.
Finding used bottles is a nice way to save a little money and keep the glass out of the landfill. We have found used bottles for sale through our local homebrewers club. We’ve also used resources like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or even yard sales.
3. Restaurants, Bars or Local Breweries
You don’t have to buy bottles at all if you are willing to do a bit of leg work. Check with local restaurants, bars, or breweries. If they have bottled beer, you may be able to pick up empties and reuse them for your home brewing.
Unless you’ve got a connection that will set bottles aside for you, you’ll be digging through trash or recycling. This is a good way to get standard 16-ounce beer bottles, and sometimes 20-ounce bottles. Just remember to skip the twist-off bottles.
4. Your Refrigerator
An easy win for most of us homebrewers is to just save the bottles from the beers that are in your fridge. Purchased beer is a good source of bottles. Most craft beer comes in crimp top bottles, and again, if you can reuse bottles that you have easy access to, it’s a nice thing to do for the environment.
The challenge with reusing bottles that you get from the beer in your fridge or from restaurants, bars, or breweries is that most of these have labels, and you’ll want to remove those labels.
This can be a tedious process, and some homebrewers just keep the original label on the bottle as a time saver.
Hints for Reusing Bottles
We all eventually reuse bottles. If you purchase new, you don’t want to repurchase every time you brew, so to save money you’ll want to clean and reuse. Here are some helpful hints for reusing beer bottles.
- Rinse right away – when your bottle is empty, rinse it out thoroughly, as soon as possible. This will make cleaning and sanitizing easier.
- Remove labels – this takes some time so be prepared. The easiest way is to soak bottles in hot water and Easy Clean for 15 to 20 minutes. Most labels will just slip off.
- Stick to dark glass – brown bottles are the best for keeping light from spoiling your beer.
- Horde the swing-top bottles – these are really the best for homebrewing, and people hoard them. If you find them or buy them, hang on to them for dear life.