I sometimes get people offering to save their used beer bottles for me to put my homebrew beer in. I appreciate people trying to give me things I can use, but always politely refuse. For one thing, I don’t bottle beer anymore. Well, actually I do, but only when I make small batches, usually of experimental recipes.
Another reason I don’t take bottles from other people is because I used to almost always get screw-top bottles from people. These are not so good for homebrewing. I would thank these well-meaning people and take the bottle straight to the recycling center. It was a waste of time for everyone.
When you are getting ready to bottle your beer, definitely go with pry-off bottles if you have the choice. Here are my reasons for using those when I do end up bottling my homebrew:
- Screw-top bottles are meant to be used once. As such, they are typically made with thinner glass and break easily when using a wing-style capper.
- The thin glass can lead to problems if you accidentally overcarbonate your beer.
- The threads on the screw top style can prevent you from getting a good seal.
For these reasons, I use pry-off bottles, and usually just save them from a six-pack I happen to buy when I buy beer, which is rare right now.
However, if you only have screw-top bottles, fret not. I have had the occasional bottle like this work without issue, but about half the time they seem to either break or not seal, so they are not a good bet. If you use a bench-style capper, you should be able to make these work nearly 100% of the time. The difference is that bench cappers don’t put the same type of stress on the neck of the bottles, which is a particularly vulnerable part. In addition, due to their mechanics, they seem to make a better seal on the screw-top bottles.
Overall, I recommend using pry-off bottles, but with the right equipment, the cheaper screw-tops can work just fine as well.