Glass Beer Bottles - The Perfect Storage Container for your Perfect Hombrewed Beer!
Glass beer bottles are the perfect storage containers for our favorite drink - beer! As a homebrewer, nothing beats that crisp sound of carbon dioxide popping out of an appropriately carbonated and aged beer. And though pouring a crisp brew into its proper beer glass is my preferred method, sometimes I can't help but chug down a cold one straight from the bottle - and glass bottles give me that genuine beer bottle feel.
History of Glass Bottles for Beer
Glass itself has been around since 12000 BC for coating materials, and the first glass bottles were used around 1500 BC. But the first recorded use of glass beer bottles was in the Sixteenth Century when an English theologian carried bottled beer while angling on the River Thames.
Early American settlers in the 1600's began the bottle and jar industry in Jamestown where the first glass melting furnace was built and the glass itself was blown by glassblowers.
The industrial revolution introduced innovations like the glass blowing machine in 1903, standardizing the industry, bringing costs down and making it a standard in the global beer market we recognize today.
Science of Glass Bottles for Beer
Modern glass beer bottles are made with 45% Silica Sand SiO2, 15% Soda Ash Na2CO3, 10% Limestone CaCO3 with the remainder of the formula consisting of recycled glass material as well as coloring agents. To give the standard beer bottle its Amber color, a small mixture of iron Fe, sulfur S and carbon C are used. The mixture creates the handsome amber/brown color which keeps the beer from being damaged by ultraviolet radiation, known to give beer that skunky aroma and flavor.
Glass is 100% recyclable and can be melted and reused indefinitely. It has been estimated that some beer bottles may contain recycled glass from as far back as twenty years ago.
Production of Glass Bottles for Beer
Modern production of beer glass bottles is highly automated. The combined elements discussed previously are blown as a particulate cloud into a furnace, which melts down the particles into a highly viscous molten fluid. Shears cut globs of molten glass into cylinders, then a scoop sends the cylinders into machine molds. The next shape is referred to as a parasin, which is a miniature version of what the bottle will look like when complete. The parasin moves to a blow mold, and compressed air pressures the glass against the mold, creating a hollow cavity. The now complete shape is cooled, packaged and shipped to its final destination.
Types of Glass Beer Bottles for the Homebrewer
Now we enjoy a wide variety of glass beer bottles throughout the world, but I'll mainly go over what the homebrewer is interested in using.
Here in the United States, we enjoy the Industry Standard Bottle (ISB), best known as the North American Longneck. A longneck (listen up homebrewers) has a uniform capacity of 12 US Fluid ounces (355 mL) and can be reused an average of 16 times! The shape is known well to the home brewer because the primary function of the longneck is to provide a layer of air to cushion the pressure as carbonation from yeast fermenting the priming sugar and other unfermented materials in the beer builds. This helps reduce the risk of explosions!
The 22 oz Amber Homebrew "Bomber" Beer Bottles also enjoys the same level of standardization and the explosion protection of the long neck, but it comes in a 22 ounce capacity. These tend to be for the more mature beers and do well for aging. I have several of these aging some fine hoppy American Wheat beers in my private stock refrigerator which are holding up quite well.
Belgian Style Amber Bottles come in 16 ounces for serving the perfect pint. Belgian style pint glass beer bottles are usually 9 inches tall and 2.75 inches in diameter. They have a pressure rating of 70 psi/ 5 bars to withstand the carbonation built by hungry, Belgian Trappist Ale Yeast which tend to be highly attenuating and have a high alcohol tolerance, so they stay alive longer while producing more alcohol and higher carbon dioxide concentrations. In my cellar I have a few bottles of high gravity Belgian strong ales with Pilsner and German Chocolate Malts, Demerera cane sugar and a highly attenuating champagne yeast with an alcohol tolerance of 17%! After almost two years, not one has exploded! By now they should be well into the mellowing phase.
Inspired by Grolsch beer, the Beugel bottle comes with the ceramic and rubber flip top that takes the bottle capping out of the glass beer bottle. These Amber Flip-Cap Bottles come in 500 mL sizes to once again serve the perfect pint. While they offer a great solution for bottling beer, they should be used for batches that are in current circulation and consumption. I don't have any real data to back it up, but I just don't trust the flip top rubber sealed caps to withstand the months or years of vintage beer aging. But I really do like the flip tops!
Finally, for the homebrewer who loves a big serving, there's the Half Gallon Beer Growler! This bad boy is a monster. You can find beer growlers at good beer pubs willing to let you take home 64 ounces of their delicious freshly made brew on tap. These tend to be pricey, large and not very useful for long term storage, but they're great for lugging around large batches of beer! They come with 38 mm screw caps, which again should be used for your current beer in circulation.
These are my glass beer bottles preferences and recommendations. I guess you can also use 40 ounce bottles of your favorite Malt liquor, but I like these the best. The real recommendation though is to get yourself a case of beer, drink it, then use the longnecks for an additional 15 times! European versions work well too, but I like the full 12 ounces as opposed to the European standard of 330 mL, or 11.16 US Fluid ounces. On the other hand, their standard large is the 750 Mililleter - at 25.4 US Fluid ounces, it rivals our bomber bottles!
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