The beer geek in me likes to have everything organized and consistent. Most of the rest of my life is not in fact like that, but when it comes to my beers, well, let’s just say that I have almost every recipe I’ve ever brewed (over 20 years) and the label from almost every bottled beer I’ve ever tried. I have a cabinet full of nearly 300 beer glasses, and I try to drink my home brewed beer from a glass that is appropriate to style. And of course, I try to bottle in an appropriate bottle as well.
Over the years, I have accumulated, at a rough guess, almost 3000 bottles, ranging from the common brown long-neck, to the squat Trappist, to the slope-shouldered green favored by German bocks and Oktoberfests. I have 250 or so Anchor bottles, about 60 clear Samuel Smiths, 200 Grolsch and other ceramic swing-tops, green and brown champagnes, dozens of 22 oz. “big boys” (many screen-printed by West Coast breweries), and more than 150 16-oz. brown “bombers”, the kind you often find Eastern European and Scandinavian dark lagers in…
I keep them sorted, in milk crates, and I clean and delabel them as soon as I empty them. When I plan out my brewing schedule, I look ahead to the approximate date of bottling and figure out which bottle best fits the style, and if I will have enough through the normal cycle of filling and emptying. Yes, I confess that I have on a few occasions bought a beer for the bottle. Even so, every once in a while I find myself stuck, with only 36 or so of a given bottle and in need of 50 – 55 for my next batch.
A quick word about glass: it’s common knowledge that brown glass protects beer better than green (which is still better than clear). There are just certain styles that beg to be bottled in green, though, and I am careful to keep those batches bottled in green out of the sun, usually in closed case or 12-pack boxes. I generally only use clear bottles for mead, which, because it does not contain hops (usually!), does not go skunky from light contamination. So here’s my dilemma. I have a Czech Pils ready to bottle. I want to put it up in those really tall Urquell greens (second from left in the photo), but I have recently realized I only have about 36 in the house. And they don’t seem to be using the same bottle any more (this has also happened with my favorite Scottish Ale bottles, fourth from right in the photo, which used to be used by MacEwan’s, Theakston’s and others…) so I may be stuck with putting a third of the batch in inappropriate bottles. It just won’t taste the same!
Recent bottlings, sure to be taste-tested soon: Pale Ale (bottled today, 1/26 in brown long-necks); Bock (bottled last week, also in brown long-necks); Düsseldorfer Altbier (in Anchor bottles)… and yesterday I racked the Dortmund Export, from which I am expecting great things 🙂