Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why Sanitize When You Can Sterilize?

I'm not a fan of bottling. It is very time and labor intensive, especially if you reuse bottles instead of buying new ones. However, I do enter contests and occasionally give away beer as gifts, so I do have to bottle to do so. I have a counter pressure filler so I can fill carbonated beer right from the keg, which saves me the time waiting for the beer to carbonate in the bottle. You still have to wash and sanitize the bottles, but lately I have been sterilizing my bottles instead of sanitizing them.

I do this by heating them up in the oven. I cover the mouths of the bottles with aluminum foil, and place them on their sides on the oven racks. Then I crank the oven all the way up to maximum, 550F. Once the oven reaches this temperature, I turn it off, and let the bottles cool very slowly in the closed oven. The reason for this is twofold. One, the bottles stay at a hot enough temperature for a long enough time to completely sterilize them. Two, if glass cools too quickly, it will shatter. Be careful not to place any bottle too close to the heating elements, the quick heat up will cause them to shatter as well.

Since the bottles are covered, they will stay sterilized until I am ready to use them. As you can see from the photo above, I can sterlize 20-30 bottles at one time, depending on their size.

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