October 23, 2018

Corking Belgian Bottles

When bottling certain styles of beer that require a higher-than-normal carbonation level it may be necessary to use heavy duty 750ml Belgian style bottles with corks and wire hoods. These bottles are the same style used by many Belgian beers such as Chimay. The equipment needed to do this is: 750ml Belgian Style bottles, Belgian beer corks, hooded wires, and an appropriate corker.

The type of corker you use is important because you will need to be able to adjust the depth of the plunger and be able to compress the larger cork: iris-style jaws and an adjustable plunger are required. The Portuguese Floor corker works great for Belgian bottles (and is a real workhorse for corking wine bottles as well).

The process for corking Belgian bottles is similar to corking wine bottles except that the cork only goes in about half-way - test-cork an empty bottle first to find the optimal depth setting on the plunger. You will need to first sanitize all of the equipment, bottles, etc., prepare and mix in a priming solution, and fill the bottles as normal. Then place a bottle on the corker platform, drop a cork into the iris chamber, and make sure that the plunger is set to the correct depth. Once it is corked you can apply the hooded wires by twisting the wire with your hand or use a wire tightener. As the beer carbonates the cork may mushroom further while being held in place by the wire. When opening the bottle the pressure from carbonation should allow you to pull the cork by hand.