March 24, 2011

Primo Bottling II: Champagne Bottles

A bottle of beer is only as good as its contents. However, sharp packaging can make every bottle opening a bit more like Christmas.

Here is a simple option that I used for my Righteousness Rye Wine, fermented with Wyeast 4347 Eau de Vie.

Champagne bottles: For the Champagne bottles I sanitized them and filled them with the beer. I then capped them using a Super Agata Bench Capper.

I used the same label template that I used in other Primo Bottling procedures (10" x 3/4"), but cut down the strips to 7”—off of the blank end—and lightly taped the label below the lip of the bottle.

To heat the bottle wax, I used a double-boiler method to raise it to the proper temperature range, 185-205°F. I simply placed a sauce pan in a large skillet and filled the skillet with water to the level of the bottle wax. The narrower the saucepan, the better as you can use less wax to dip more bottles (you might also consider using a Pyrex measuring cup or a coffee can, NOTE: they will get quite waxy). I monitored the bottle wax's temperature as it was heated to approximately 190°F using a digital thermometer.

Once the wax had consistently melted, I dipped the bottle’s head into bottle wax and turned them 180° to coat evenly. I set them to cool on a piece of cardboard on my countertop. The stickers served to keep the label in place and protect it from tearing and will also help to classify it laying on its side in the cellar. The stickers I used are glossy and slightly embossed. I think the quality of the sticker will determine the quality of classiness of the final display.

This bottling procedure was time consuming, but definitely look sharp. It feels as if the same care I gave to the brewing the beer is reflected in their handcrafted appearance. You would need approximately 25 bottles to package the full batch of beer. However I recommend getting 2 cases (24 bottles) and pouring the remaining beer into a growler to be enjoyed, flat, young and punchy.

  • 750 ml Champagne bottles
  • Plain Gold Crown Caps
  • Bottle Wax
  • Printer Paper 
  • Stickers  
  • Bottle-capper of some sort 
  • Range with larger pan or Crockpot (crockpots work great as a double boiler, though they will take a long time to heat up). 
  • Sauce pan, coffee can or large narrow vessel of some sort that can be heated with the wax in it for dipping the bottles. NOTE: you should fill your wax vessel no more than half full, because you will be dipping bottles and displacing the wax 


  1. I attempt to do the same wax sealing with wine bottles but there is always air pockets that cause the top to look unappealing. I've only heated the wax to about 120 degrees...seems to start boiling/bubbling much higher than that. I'm confused how you ended up with such a smooth seal especially at 190 degrees. Any suggestions? Or is the higher temp the trick?

  2. To Mattox,

    First of all, there is a possibility that we were using different bottle waxes.

    I think the way I melted smoothly with no bubbles was the double-boiler technique. I set my wax pot in another pot filled with water and then applied the heat. This way the wax could only get as hot as the water outside of it. As a result the temp rose very slowly, the the temp inside the wax was very consistent (as opposed to hot spots).


  3. Sorry Mattox,

    I addressed the wax question to you.

    The stickers are the ornamental end of some return address stickers that a charitable organization sent me. I simply chopped off my name and address.

    For sticker sources, I have had luck with Paper Source in the Twin Cities Metro Area. Not as ornamental, but great colors and the ability to print on them.



  4. I love the label/sticker idea. Definitely going to use this for gifting Barleywine bottles to friends.

  5. This is really really sharp. There's always something special about tearing into the wax seal on a bottle of Maker's Mark.

  6. One thing that I forgot to mention in the article: As an ongoing gift to my Dad, I bought him 2 cases of 16oz ez-cap bottles many Father's Days ago. I will fill, for him, 4-16oz ezcaps from each beer that I make. In addition to the ongoing gift, it makes sure I never need additional bottles (beyond the 24 champagne bottles in this example).


  7. Any reason I couldn't use this for regular 12oz bottles?

  8. No reason you couldn't wax 12 oz. bottles, just might be a lot of work for many more bottles.