How to Sanitize Beer Bottles in 5 Ridiculously Simple Steps

sanitize beer bottles

Unless you utilize a keg, you’re likely going to be bottle conditioning your beer.

Proper sanitizing processes are crucial to ensuring your beer doesn’t pick up any infections. Fail to sanitize properly and you’ll end up with a disappointing product.

You see where I’m going with this, right?

If you haven’t already guessed it, you’ll need to sanitize your beer bottles before a drop of beer touches them.

Sanitize Beer Bottles the Easy Way

In my beginner brew days, I would fill up a bucket of sanitizing solution, dip my bottles into it, let them soak for a minute, and then remove the bottles to let them dry.

While this worked fine, it was horribly inefficient. I found myself wasting a lot of sanitizer too.

That’s when I started doing things the easier way.

If you’re looking for a quick, painless, and simple way to sanitize beer bottles, I’ve got the perfect process.

It will save you time AND money (considering you won’t waste as much sanitizer as you would with other methods).

It’s nothing groundbreaking and is something that many homebrewers already do.

If you’re NOT doing this, I suggest you give the following steps below a try on bottling day:

Step 1 – Ensure any label glue is completely removed

One of the most cost-effective ways to obtain bottles for your homebrew is to use what you already have on hand. Previously purchased commercial beer bottles can be saved and reused numerous times (pry-off top only – no twist tops).

Pro tip: You can also ask your friends for pry-off bottles that they don’t need. You’ll soon find yourself with a healthy collection in no time!

Before you’re ready to sanitize beer bottles and package your beer, you first need to prep them properly.

That starts with removing the label and any glue that is left over afterwards.

By removing labels and cleaning off the glue, you will be left with a reusable glass bottle that will last you hundreds of batches. Think of it like a blank canvas – your bottles will look nicer, cleaner, and will be easier to brand as your own (with custom labels, of course).

Trust me – removing labels and glue to clean up bottles is worth the time. Nothing is worse than dealing with the grime and grit that glue leaves stuck behind!

Feeling intimidated? Don’t be! To get a more in-depth look at how to get labels off of beer bottles quickly and easily, check out this post.

Step 2 – Rinse bottles completely and clean with a bottle brush to remove any grime

If your bottles have sat around for some time, dirt, grime, and other contaminants may have found their way inside and out. That’s the last thing we want.

Fortunately, a good rinse and scrub is all you need to get them in tip-top shape!

Here is the process that I follow:

  • Once the label and glue has been removed (as mentioned in Step 1 above), give the bottle a good rinse with warm water inside and out.
  • With the bottle being wet, use a bottle brush and scrub inside and outside the bottle. This will get rid of any dirt, grime, and even some pesky leftover glue residue.
  • Bottles go directly into the dishwasher on a high-heat cycle with heat dry. No detergent – just hot water.
  • Once the cycle is complete, the bottles are dry and ready to move on to the next step!

If you do not have a dishwasher, you can do this all by hand (although it will take considerably longer). If you’re dealing with a lot of dirt and grime, I recommend using some regular dish soap along with the bottle brush and hot water to help break things up.

Make sure you rinse well and let the bottles air dry before moving on to the next step.

Step 3 – Pour 1/2 tsp of StarSan into a spray bottle with water

As you might already be aware, StarSan is one of the most widely used (and most effective) sanitizers on the market.

I can’t get enough of the stuff! It lasts forever and does a stand-up job. What more could you ask for?

Here’s the thing – you can get even more mileage from StarSan by utilizing a spray bottle.

When I need to sanitize beer bottles, a mixture of water and StarSan in a spray bottle is the perfect storm. It’s quick, simple, and downright effective!

Once bottles are cleaned and completely dry, I do the following:

  • Measure out 1/2 tsp of StarSan and place into 32-ounce plastic spray bottle (grab one from the local dollar store).
  • Fill up spray bottle with water and give it a gentle shake.

And just like that, you’re ready to get moving. Your solution is ready to sanitize on contact, making it easy to sanitize your bottles in the next step.

Quick note: If you use distilled water (as opposed to tap water), your mixture will last quite a few weeks in the spray bottle. Doing this will save you both time AND money. Still, I have found that using tap water has been suitable to get me through a few batches without issue.

Step 4 – Spray the inside of each bottle enough to coat it with StarSan

Ready for the fun to start? Good. I thought you would be.

Do the following:

  • Gather up your bottles and arrange them on your countertop.
  • Using the spray bottle with your sanitizer solution, pick up a bottle and place the nozzle of the spray bottle right near the bottle’s opening.
  • Spray about 2 to 3 times. This should be enough to coat the inside of the bottle.
  • Give the bottle a bit of a shake-n-swirl for additional coverage.
  • Place the bottle down and move onto the next one, repeating the same process above.

Once all of your bottles have been sprayed with sanitizer, let them sit for a few minutes. During this time, you can get your bottling bucket ready for your priming sugar and beer.

I’ve always done it this way during bottling day and it always helps things flow smoothly. You could sanitize these in advance, however, you will have to worry about covering the tops with foil to keep them truly sterile. In my opinion, this takes more time than follow the method I laid out here.

Step 5 – Dump out any excess and bottle your beer

At this point, your beer and priming sugar are in the bottling bucket, mixed and ready to go, and your bottles sprayed with sanitizer are sitting close by.

You know what that means, right? The time has finally come to bottle up your beer! This is where the rubber meets the road.

Before you start filling up, grab a beer bottle, turn it upside down and give it a little shake to dump out any excess sanitizer. Having a little bit in there won’t hurt by any means, but I always prefer to eliminate any excess.

Once any leftover sanitizer has been dumped out, you’re good to start filling up and capping your bottles!

Bottle Beer Like a Boss

Now that you know how easy it is to sanitize beer bottles, you’ll be more efficient and have a better flow on bottling day.

Besides that, you’ll know that your beer is safe and you aren’t wasting sanitizer solution like you would with other methods.

If you have any other quick and simple sanitizing solutions, feel free to leave any comments below. We’d love to hear your take on how you do it!

Sanitizing Brewing Equipment – Why It’s Crucial to Making Great Beer

sanitizing brewing equipment

Sanitizing brewing equipment – what an exciting topic, right?

I can almost hear you exploding with excitement all the way over here.

All joking aside, sanitizing is serious business! Poor sanitizing techniques and processes usually mean a poor final product.

While you might get lucky here and there, if you’re not keeping up with a solid sanitizing routine, your quality WILL suffer.

Good Beer Starts with Clean Equipment

When your beer creeps into temperatures below 170°F, bacteria and other microbes will quickly become your enemy.

All it takes is one slip-up in your process. For example, if you’re taking a gravity reading and forget to sanitize your hydrometer, you risk introducing contaminants into your beer.

It’s not rocket science – it’s about being alert and paying attention to detail.

The more you stay on top of it, your chances of making a great beer begin to elevate.

Will sanitizing brewing equipment properly ensure that you always make good beer? Not entirely, but it will DEFINITELY keep you from ruining a great batch!

And trust me, nothing is worse than having to dump a batch of beer that you worked hard on.

Tips on Sanitizing Brewing Equipment

You are probably aware that sanitizing is one of the most important parts of the brewing process. The problem, however, is a lot of beginners fail to understand how easy it really is.

Seriously – it’s all a matter of repetition, taking your time, and paying close attention to the details.

Without wasting time jabbering on and on, let’s go ahead and dive right in to some of the best tips and practices for sanitizing brewing equipment.

1 – You need to sanitize everything (yes – everything)

It’s the most obvious statement here, yet tends to be the most forgotten.

From your initial brew day until you’re bottling up your final product, anything that may come into contact with your beer will need to be sanitized.

For example, I sanitize everything down to my yeast packet and the scissors that I use to cut it open. It can be argued the risk of an infection by not doing this is minimal, but it’s one extra step that ensures things stay as clean and sanitary as can be.

It’s easy to get careless and forget to sanitize something if you’re not careful. That’s why I always recommend taking things slow. Don’t rush it!

You’ll get better at this as you grow as a brewer and develop your own process and flow. It takes time and can be tedious, but then again, practicing the proper techniques out of the gate will save you a lot of headaches.

My general rule of thumb: When in doubt, sanitize again.

2 – Choose one of the best sanitizers (StarSan or Iodophor)

You may already be familiar with powdered “no-rinse” sanitizers that are packaged with many extract recipe kits out there. While these do work, they typically require items to be immersed in the sanitizer solution for a longer duration (i.e. 2 minutes or more).

If you’re going to be taking your sanitizing more seriously, you need something better and of higher quality. It needs to be consistent and reliable.

You need StarSan or Iodophor.

StarSan and Iodophor are contact sanitizers, meaning that they typically kill any bacteria on contact.

No waiting or second-guessing yourself. This stuff is the real deal and used by both home and professional brewers across the world.

For convenience and better sanitizing power, again, I highly recommend skipping the powdered stuff and picking up StarSan or Iodophor instead. A huge 32-ounce container of StarSan can be had for around $20, but it will last forever (and no, that is NOT an exaggeration).

One thing to note: If you’re using plastic buckets for fermentation, I recommend going with StarSan. Iodophor tends to stain plastic and can impart an iodine flavor in your beer if the concentrate is too high. This can easily be prevented by mixing your solution according to the instructions.

The stain won’t hurt anything and is purely cosmetic. I’ve never used Iodophor personally, but know many people who do and love it.

In the end, either one of these sanitizers will do, as it boils down to personal preference.

3 – Mix solution in a spray bottle for quick and easy sanitizing on contact

If you haven’t already realized it, there are plenty of times when a couple quick sprays of sanitizer will do the trick.

For example, when a hydrometer reading is necessary, I need to sanitize three things:

  • Beer Thief (to retrieve the sample)
  • Test jar
  • Hydrometer

Without a spray bottle, sanitizing this stuff can be a royal pain. It means I end up wasting more StarSan than I should.

Once I picked up a 32-ounce spray bottle at the local dollar store, however, it was a complete game changer!

Convenient, simple, and easy – three words that I strive to live by. Roughly 1/2 tsp of StarSan mixed with 30-32 ounces of water in the spray bottle and you’re set.

I find that after the solution is mixed, it tends to remain effective for a fair amount of time. If it starts looking cloudy, the pH drops below 3.0, or you just feel more comfortable with a new mixture, just rinse and repeat with the measurements mentioned previously.

Quick tip: When sanitizing bottles, I usually run them through the dishwasher (no soap) and let them dry. Once dry, I use my spray bottle with sanitized solution and give each bottle a couple quick sprays. I’ll let the solution meddle for a bit, give each bottle a “shake ‘n swirl”, then dump out any remaining sanitizer into the sink.

It’s quick, simple, and I don’t have to waste a big bucket full of solution.

4 – Don’t worry so much about the kettle

One exception to the rule of sanitizing is your boil kettle. Since wort is boiled for an extended period of time, any potential contaminants that could harm your beer will be killed off.

Rather than sanitize, make sure that you wash your kettle (either PBW or unscented dish soap is fine) and give it a good scrub. Doing so will prevent any leftovers from a previous brew finding their way into your latest batch.

If you’re still not comfortable, you can always give your kettle a few quick sprays with your spray bottle. It’s not necessary, but it absolutely won’t hurt anything either.

Develop Good Habits Now so it Becomes Second Nature

You don’t want poor sanitizing practices to be one of the common mistakes that turns your beer into a musty mess, do you?

Point blank – make sure stuff is sanitized, but don’t feel the need to go completely overboard with it. Find a happy medium. This isn’t a high-tech science lab, so use good judgment and you’ll be fine.

At the end of the day, the one rule still stands: “If it touches your beer, it’s going to need to be sanitized.” Take that rule to heart and you’ll be well on your way to preventing infections the best you can!

The 5 Best Brew Kettles Available (and What We Like the Most)

best brew kettles

Let’s state the obvious right out of the gate: if you’re brewing beer, you’re going to need a brew kettle.

However, the type of kettle you end up choosing is going to depend on a few things:

  • Your budget
  • Your preferred batch size
  • Your demand for quality and durability

Depending on where you fall, this can make the decision on what to buy a little tricky.

The best brew kettles out there are, in my opinion, ones that will typically hit all of the 3 points I listed above.

Since I often hear new brewers looking for a kettle that will meet those demands, I thought a write up covering the best brew kettles on the market would fit the bill.

That said, if you’re looking for a new kettle, you’re in the right place.

Breakdown of the Best Brew Kettles

Many new brewers often start their journey with a cheap stockpot/kettle.

While these kettles work for your first few batches, they’re truly made for cooking. They’re not designed to stand up to the rigors of brewing.

You need, at the very least, something that is durable and built specifically for brewing.

Is it going to be the cheapest thing you’ll buy? Hardly. 

It will, however, be an investment that will last for a long time. You take care of a brew kettle and you’ll get many years out of it – guaranteed!

Now before I break everything down, I want to state the following:

  • I am assuming that you will be brewing 3 to 5 gallon batches, as the kettles below are no smaller than 8 gallons. Batches of this size will allow you to achieve a full-boil.
  • I only cover kettles of this size because 5 gallons is typically the standard batch size for homebrewing.
  • If you plan to go bigger or smaller than 5 gallon batches, you can find many of the same kettles in a larger or smaller size.

Make sense? Good! Now let’s get down to the good stuff…

#1 – Ss BrewTech 10 Gallon with Ball Valve

Ss Brewtech is quickly becoming on the of the top names in the homebrewing industry. Their build quality is unmatched, so it should come as no surprise why their signature Brew Kettle is my favorite.

Constructed using heavy-duty 18 gauge 304 stainless steel, this kettle can take a beating and still look and perform as good as it did on the first day! The sturdy (and comfortable) silicone covered handles make handling and transporting hot wort an absolute breeze.

On the inside, you’ll find internal etched markings to ensure your volume is always at the right level. A trub dam helps filter out unwanted particles into your fermenter as it funnels through the 3 piece ball valve. The result – cleaner (and clearer) beer.

Personally, I use this specific kettle for my mashing (along with the false bottom and temp gauge, which can be purchased separately). Once I made the switch, I haven’t looked back since. It has been worth every single cent!

No leaks, no rust, no trouble. It’s a solid piece of equipment from a company that earned my trust right out of the box!

If there is any brew kettle that gets 100% of my respect (and then some), it’s this one.

Read more about it here: Ss Brewtech 10 gallon Brew Kettle

#2 – Bayou Classic 10 Gallon with Ball Valve

Another common brand name in homebrewing is none other than Bayou Classic. They are known for producing a variety of reliable brew kettles in all sorts of sizes.

Their 10 gallon kettle is made from heavy-duty 20 gauge stainless steel. Compared to the Ss Brewtech above, it is slightly thinner, but still durable enough to use as a brew kettle (especially for the typical 5 gallon batch size).

At first glance, you will notice the handles are not silicone coated, which means you’ll need some extra care when handling (as steel handles tend to warm up quickly, depending on the heat source). Regardless, the handles are durable and sturdy enough for simple handling and transporting.

Some folks say they’ve experienced issues with the ball valve, however, you need to ensure that it is properly installed. Too many times I see people overtightening when installing, which can lead to more issues. Hand tight is all you need.

I use this as my main boil kettle in my current setup and haven’t had any issues thus far. It’s lasted quite a few batches and serves it’s purpose well.

And if that weren’t convincing enough, the price won’t empty your bank account.

Check it out here: Bayou Classic 10 Gallon with Ball Valve

#3 – MegaPot 8 Gallon with Ball Valve

The MegaPot 1.2 is another fantastic, durable, and reliable kettle directly from the folks at Northern Brewer. If you’re brewing standard size batches, this is yet another kettle that can get the job done.

Similar to the Ss Brewtech Brew Kettle, the MegaPot 1.2 is an absolute beast! Created from nice and thick stainless steel (0.8mm, or 20-gauge wall thickness), it’s another kettle that can take a beating in your home brewery without losing any durability. Silicone coated handles make moving this monster safe and easy. No need for oven mitts or washcloths here!

Due to it’s smaller size (compared to 10 gallon kettles), batches of 5 gallons and lower are ideal. It’s also perfect for BIAB (brew-in-a-bag). The easy-to-open ball valve gives you total control over the flow of your hot wort as you transfer it to your fermentation vessel.

What about water volume? Internal etched markings have you covered (one at each gallon). No more guessing games or “eyeballing it” – one quick look inside is all you need.

Albeit on the more expensive end, if you’re looking for something less than 10 gallons in size, this is one of the best brew kettles to fit the bill!

See more on this kettle here: MegaPot 1.2 8 Gallon with Ball Valve

#4 – Kegco 8 Gallon Brew Kettle with Ball Valve

Rounding out the best brew kettles with ball valves is the Kegco 8 gallon brew kettle. Similar in nature to it’s “cousins” above, it’s construction of 304 stainless steel makes it a durable and reliable piece of equipment.

Batch after batch, you’ll have no problems transporting and moving hot wort in the kettle, thanks to the silicone coated handles. Full-boils of 5 gallon batches are a piece of cake, with plenty of headroom to prevent boilovers.

The only downfall that I see with this particular kettle is that it is slightly thinner than some of the other models listed here (22 gauge stainless). Still, it’s stronger than many kettles on the market and will last you many years (with good care, of course).

Similar to the SsBrewtech Brew Kettle, the Kegco can be purchased with or without the thermometer attachment. If you plan to do BIAB, the thermometer makes an excellent accessory. It’s convenient and allows you to monitor your temps during the mash without having to open up the lid and release heat.

See more on this kettle here: Kegco 8 Gallon Kettle with Ball Valve

#5 – Bayou Classic 10 Gallon without Ball Valve (for those with a smaller budget)

If you’re looking for something simple and easy on the wallet that still gets the job done, this has your name written all over it!

The Bayou Classic 10 gallon stainless brew kettle is perfect for new and old brewers alike. It is budget friendly (less than $60) yet still has same build as its bigger brother (kettle with ball valve previously mentioned above).

One of the pitfalls of this kettle is the most obvious – no ball valve. This can make transferring wort into your fermenter a bit tougher, as you’ll need to dump it in rather than let it flow from the spigot. If you’re brewing relatively small batches on your own, there is no need to worry. This will work just fine.

If you’re a BIAB brewer, this kettle is the perfect size, accommodating 5 to 6 gallon batches at full-boil with ease. No silicone coated handles on this puppy though, so you’ll need to pay extra attention when handling.

Again, for a kettle that’s under $60 in price that allows you to boil full-size 5 gallon batches without any issues, it’s an absolute steal!

Check it out here: Bayou Classic 10 Gallon Brew Kettle (without Ball Valve)

Remember: Quality Goes a Long Way

When it comes to the best brew kettles, any of the 5 mentioned above are tough to beat. They all have their differences and similarities, but in the end, it usually boils down to the minor details and personal preference.

However, if I had to pick one as the best of them all, it would be the Ss Brewtech Brew Kettle. It’s nothing but solid build quality and has durability that is unmatched, hands down!

Seriously – these things can take a beating brew day after brew day, and they will still hold up as strong as they did on the first boil. It’s the reason why they are one of the top brands in homebrewing equipment today!

Before I let you run off, remember this – in homebrewing, quality is always worth paying a few extra dollars for. You’ll spend more upfront but save fistfuls of money in the end.

Tough to argue with that now, isn’t it?