Reusing twist-off bottles

I remember @Norm saying something previously about needing a specific size of cap to reuse twist-off bottles properly but I didn’t take notes - can I get a refresher? I purchased some crown caps a while ago from Beer Grains that don’t mention the size but it says in the description “not for use on twist offs”.

I’ll have to double-check what I am about to say, so take it with a grain of malt:

Twist-off caps are made of slightly softer metal and tend to have a larger overall diameter, so the threads are covered, as opposed to the pry off caps.

I think you’ll be able to close a twist off bottle with a pry off cap, but the seal may not hold well, whereas the opposite would work (pry off bottle with twist off cap).

I wouldn’t either. Get a bag of twist off caps from your favourite LHBS if you want to use twist off bottles. I haven’t had any issue at competitions when I used those with twist off bottles.

It is unfortunately more difficult to source small (355 ml) pry off bottles in Québec than twist off ones. That is why I generally bottle in 500 ml bottles.

Thanks! With cans taking over it’s indeed getting a lot harder to find 355ml crown cap bottles.

Follow-up question! I soaked some St-Ambroise twist bottles overnight in hot oxyclean. The labels fell right off, super. I scrubbed them thoroughly inside and out and after drying they are still not clear as new. Some of the marks on the outside are obviously just scratches from the bottles being reused which I don’t like but I can live with. However there are also marks on the inside that look like residue. I soaked and scrubbed them again but they’re still there - any thoughts?

Did you rinse them? It could be leftover oxyclean that dried out. Or crud that doesn’t go away…

I didn’t rinse them after drinking them originally, but I rinsed the oxyclean off them for sure. Next time I get beer in twisties I’ll rinse them immediately after imbibing and try again.

I’ve heard of beer stone accumulating in old bottles, though I’ve never seen it. An acid rinse might get rid of it, though that might be more work than it’s worth.

1 Like

I had already recycled the one in the photo but found some others with the same stubborn problem and I’m not sure if this is what you meant by an “acid rinse”, Kurt, but Sam suggested I try a soak in StarSan and it worked, they’re good as new - thanks!

Acid based cleaners are good at removing beerstone. Star San is acidic which is why it worked

1 Like

After wasting some time on the HBT forums it seems like this might not be beerstone but rather a residue left by Oxyclean that was too concentrated (I never measure the stuff) - but the acid rinse seems to clear both up. Cheers.

Messemble qu’on a eu une discussion du genre au barrel fill… que c’était possible, mais que certaines bouteilles pouvait mal sceller…

I’m having a hard time getting empties cleaned to a condition I’m satisfied with in a reasonable amount of time, so before I give up and buy new bottles, a couple of questions for people who successfully reuse twist-offs:

  • What is your process? What cleaning agent do you use? How long do you soak? Bottle brush/scrubbie?
  • When you’re finished cleaning them, do they look brand new or is there always some scuff/scratch marks on the outside (normally in the area where the commercial label was)?

What is your process? What cleaning agent do you use? How long do you soak? Bottle brush/scrubbie?

I first rinse the bottles with warm water using a bottle washer faucet adapter to remove the loose crud and then I soak immerse them in a solution of PBW (at least) overnight. After this, I rinse them generously with the same faucet adapter and hang them to dry on my bottle tree. This is generally sufficient to (1) remove the labels and (2) clean any dirt left inside the bottles.

When you’re finished cleaning them, do they look brand new or is there always some scuff/scratch marks on the outside (normally in the area where the commercial label was)?

The scratches and marks on the outside never go away. It’s normal wear on the body of the bottles.

Thanks for the details, Norm. Maybe I’ll try PBW instead of the Oxiclean and see if the residue problem I’m having goes away. “Learning to live” with the scratches, however, would take some more difficult mental reprogramming. :slight_smile:

You could always try to get other formats. I know for sure that 500 ml bottles (most formats) generally look like new. But they aren’t twist off.

I’m specifically interested in the smaller size for competitions and strong beers.

I have also soaked in dishwasher powdered detergent and super hot water. Labels and glue slide right off. Rinses clean after.

For what it’s worth, I use oxyclean as well and it doesn’t leave a residue for me so it might be something else. I have had some spots of a kind of cloudy whitish film in bottles before that wouldn’t go away with my normal process and using an acid worked to get rid of it. Either a really concentrated white vinegar soak or a high concentrated star San solution soak have worked in the past. I assume it is beer stone, but don’t know for sure. I think the standard thing to use for that is Acid No. 5, but I’ve never bothered. Apparently PBW and OXY don’t work on minerals. Just a thought.

I will say that the couple of times I’ve done what i just described I finally get the spots off and get the bottles put away and the I ask myself, “Why didn’t I just go buy a case of Labatt?!” hahaha

Haha, thanks Jesse. I tried a rinse with household vinegar and it did clean up the issue in some cases, but not others, and the marks on the outside of the bottles make it difficult to determine if they’re actually clean or not, so I’m just going to buy some new ones.