If you want to master the art of the brew, you will need to learn how to cap a beer bottle. Proper capping is the critical final step to a good homebrew. Improperly-capped beer bottles will allow gas to escape and let impurities in while the beer is conditioning. This will leave you with a flat or potentially skunky beer. Nobody wants that. The main tool you will use for capping is a bottle cap crimper, also known as a capper. There are two types easily available to the home brewer: bench style and handheld. The bench style is more expensive and consists of a platform to set the bottle on and a single lever to pull down to crimp the bottle cap. The handheld capper is less expensive, has no platform and consists of two levers that you pull down simultaneously to crimp the bottle cap. Both types work well and are suitable for small batches. The bench style allows you to re-use twist top beer bottles; the handheld does not.
To properly cap a beer bottle, you will need:
- Beer bottles, clean and sanitized
- Beer that is ready for conditioning
- Bottle caps
- Sanitizer solution
- A bottle cap crimper
- Place the bottle caps in the sanitizer solution. You will leave the beer bottle caps in the solution until you are ready to use them. By doing this, you sanitize your hand every time you pick up a cap.
- Fill a bottle to the desired fullness. Always leave one to one and a half inches of head space in the neck to allow room for the beer and gas to expand as it carbonates. If the beer and gas do not have enough room to expand, your bottle could explode.
Place the bottle cap on the beer bottle. Press down lightly with your hand to ensure it is secure.
- Squarely place the crimper over the bottle cap and pull the lever(s) down, crimping the bottle cap. If you make a mistake, remove the cap, discard and replace with a new cap.
- Set the beer aside for the conditioning period. Pop the cap and enjoy the frothy goodness!