What Might be Lurking in Your Empty Bottles

I sanitize my bottles in the oven.  It’s fairly easy, and I hate seeing residual “no rinse” sanitizer lingering in my bottles that I’m about to put my precious beer into.  So I cover the tops with a bit of aluminum foil, stick them in the oven,Bottles ready for oven sanitizing with aluminum foil caps and set the oven to do a timed cook at 320 degrees for 2 hours and 15 minutes.  I do that the night before and they are ready to go the next day.  Or even sit around a few days because I’ve got the convenient aluminum foil “lids” on them.

My empties I keep in the basement in an open-top box, slowly accumulating as I work my way toward the next bottling day.  Whenever I empty a bottle, I always give it a good thorough 3x rinse with hot water and some sloshing around to ensure I get any residue out of the bottom.  So for the most part the bottles are clean, just not sanitized.

When it comes to my oven sanitizing process, since the bottles I’ve got coming in are already clean per my rinse procedure after I empty one, I don’t wash them or do anything specific with them.  In one instance I had a box of new bottles from the homebrew shop, so I knew they would be clean.  They had a bit of dust on them, so I figured I’d rinse them out just to wash out any accumulated dust.  I was surprised to find a nasty looking creepy crawly Creepy Crawly inside beer bottlehad taken up residence in one of my empty bottles in the basement.  Had I not done the “one last rinse” just before my sanitizing, that little guy would’ve been in the bottle as I unknowingly capped him with aluminum foil and stuck him in the oven for a couple of hours.  That would have been a “The last time I ever had homebrew story…” for someone had one of those come floating out as I was serving my family.

So if you store your empties open topped, even if they’re clean, be sure to give a quick rinse just in case something has decided to take up residence there!