Is It Better To Use Plastic Or Glass Bottles For Home Brewing

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As a novice to home brewing beer, this is a question that I recently asked myself. Is it better to use plastic or glass bottles for home brewing?

I instinctively know that glass will be fine, after all breweries have used glass bottles forever. However I don’t see any breweries using plastic bottles for their beer. Plastic maybe okay for fizzy soft drinks. But there must be a reason why breweries don’t use them for beer.

Is It Better To Use Plastic Or Glass Bottles For Home Brewing?

The answer is not as straightforward as one being an outright winner. Yet I think, taking everything into account, glass wins overall. But that is just my opinion, and that seems to be the main point when is comes to which is best. Personal choice seems to be the overriding factor when deciding between plastic or glass bottles.

However there are things to consider before making your choice. So in this article I will share my findings.

When Do I need To Bottle My Beer?

Is It Better To Use Plastic Or Glass Bottles For Home Brewing

The point at which you need to bottle your beer is after the initial fermentation has finished.

This is when you prepare your beer for secondary fermentation. At this point you add priming sugar and syphon the beer into a secondary fermentation vessel (pressure barrel) or vessels (bottles).

Which is better a pressure barrel or bottles?

That again is pretty much down to personal choice and facilities at hand.

It is best to decide on your bottle choice before the initial fermentation process has finished. This will give you time to get your plastic or glass bottles.

Why Don’t Breweries Us Plastic Bottles?

Actually some have, and do use plastic bottles.

Although beer can be packaged in plastic bottles, we don’t see many breweries using plastic bottles for their beer.

The main reason for this seems to be because plastic can allow oxygen in. Which can cause the beer to go bad and produce off flavours.

Second is the customer perception. We don’t like drinking beer out of plastic glasses, and the same goes for plastic bottles.

Third, for breweries plastic bottles may not be as cost effective as glass.

Plastic has come a long way and bottles are now produced to stop the oxygen problem. But with that development comes a heavier cost.

To find out what breweries use plastic bottles for beer. How plastic bottles for beer has moved on, this article is very interesting.

Moving on.

Using Plastic Bottles For Home Brewing?

Is It Better To Use Plastic Or Glass Bottles For Home Brewing

There are plenty of homebrewers that use plastic bottles for the secondary fermentation process. They do have their advantages over glass.

On the other hand, there are plenty that would not use plastic bottles for their precious home brew. Some through personal experience, others because of the disadvantages over glass.

The Pros and cons of plastic bottles for home brewing.

The Pros Of Bottling Beer In Plastic Bottles

  • Easy To Use

A plastic bottle is easy to use and also very light. Once filled you just screw on the top and your good to go.

  • Robust

Plastic bottles are way more robust than glass bottles. If you drop one it is less likely to break. Also if the beer is high in carbonation, plastic is less likely to explode.

  • Good For Transporting Beer

Obviously because plastic is more robust than glass, it makes them the best for transporting your home brew.

  • Cheap

The cheapest plastic bottles are the ones that use to hold fizzy drinks. They are free after all, but if reusing fizzy drink bottles, it is best to use brown ones.

Some homebrew companies sell brown plastic bottles for bottling. They are cheaper than buying brown glass bottles.

The Cons Of Bottling Beer In Plastic Bottles

  • Oxidation

This especially counts if you reuse fizzy drinks bottles for your beer. Plastic can allow oxygen in, which can cause beer to go bad and produce off flavours.

Apparently it is worse over time, so the longer the beer is in the plastic bottle, the more chance it will spoil.

  • Leaching

Leaching means that chemicals within the makeup of the plastic can leak into the food or beverage within the plastic container.

  • Unappealing

Just like drinking beer from a plastic glass is gross. Pouring beer from a plastic bottle is the same, it’s just not appealing.

  • Hygiene

When cleaning plastic, especially if we use a bottle brush, it could become scratched. This may allow bacteria to enter the abrasion.

Sanitiser may not be able to access all scratches and do its job completely.

  • Short Life Span

Compared to glass, plastic will have a shorter lifespan and probably cannot be used as many times as glass.

Using Glass Bottles For Home Brewing

Is It Better To Use Plastic Or Glass Bottles For Home Brewing

Many breweries now use cans as well as bottles for their beer. However the majority still choose glass bottles over plastic bottles.

This may be for any of the reasons I have already mentioned. So should the home brewer take this as a sign, and not even consider plastic bottles?

Maybe many have, because the glass bottle is still the favourite among home brewers.

So what are the pros and cons of using glass bottles?

The Pros Of Bottling Beer In Glass Bottles

  • No Oxidation

A properly sealed glass bottle will not allow oxygen into your beer. Producing better flavours and fresher bee.

  • No Contaminates

Glass will not leach as plastic can do, leaving your beer pure.

  • Traditional

Glass bottles have been around for a long time and we are all comfortable with them. Pouring a beer into the glass from a glass bottle just feels right.

  • Hygienic

As long as glass is cleaned thoroughly it is less likely to become scratched trapping bacteria. This makes glass a lot more hygienic than plastic.

  • Long Lasting

If you look after glass bottles the will last a long time, serving your home brews over and over.

The Cons Of Bottling Beer In Glass Bottles

  • More Time Consuming

Although bottles are still easy to use, there is more time involved in the bottling process. Plastic bottles just need the cap screwed on.

Glass on the other hand requires you to cap them. Which although doesn’t take much longer, is still more fiddly. Unless of course you get the swing top bottles.

  • Fragile

As long as you are careful, there should be no problem. However glass is not as robust as plastic, drop one and its a smashing mess.

Also if the beer is too high in carbonation, the bottle could give way and break.

  • Expensive

When buying bottles for home brew, they are more expensive than plastic bottles. Unless you buy the swing top, you will also have to buy crown caps too. Also there is the capper to buy too.

Obviously there is the free glass bottle option. If you buy beer in bottles and you clean them and save them, then you have free glass bottles.

However you will still have to buy the caps and capper.

Final Thoughts

Those are the basic pros and cons to using plastic or glass bottles for homebrew. Weighing it all up, I think the glass bottles come out on top.

All that aside, it still probably boils down to personal choice for most people.

I personally decided on using glass bottles rather than plastic bottles. However I didn’t come to that conclusion as a result of any research. It is just a personal choice, I just prefer glass to plastic.

I also opted for the swing top glass bottles, just for ease to begin with. That is not to say I won’t invest in a capper so I can recycle beer bottles.

What do you use for bottling your homebrew? Share your thoughts below about what you use and why.

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