Choose Your Capper!
You’ve decided to bottle your beer in glass, but you need to be able to seal the bottles. This can be a tedious, messy, and occasionally hazardous task. But which is the best beer bottle capper for you? Is the cost of a bench top bottle capper worth the time saved using a hand bottle capper and hammer?
1) The homemade bottle capper
Several resources exist for making your own bottle capper, but unless you are a good engineer and an even better craftsman, you will need a backup option anyway. I really do not recommend any homemade capper due to the hazards involved, but if you are going to do it, take appropriate safety precautions and have a backup bottle capper nearby.
2) The handheld bottle capper
If you started brewing on a shoestring budget, you probably know what this is. It is basically a metal cup on a stick. The cap goes on the bottle, the cup goes on the cap, and you hit the stick with a hammer.
- Very cheap option. You will also need a hammer or blunt object to hit it with.
- Compact. You can carry it in your pocket and it takes up very little space in your home brew shed or kitchen cupboard.
- Very time consuming. You will soon grow to hate this capper.
- Messy. You will find yourself getting covered with beer.
- Hazardous. Although I have only broken a couple of bottles, the flying shards of glass are very dangerous. There is also a chance you could crush a part of the bottle, turning your winning beer into a deadly drink.
- Requires more tools. You need a thick glove, safety glasses, and a hammer (or at least a blunt object).
I love it for: The low cost and versatility.
I hate it for: The hours I lose capping a single batch.
3) The wing bottle capper
Now we are getting fancy! Commercial examples include the Black Beauty and Red Baron. You place your cap in the mouth, put the whole assembly on your bottle and, with two hands, pull both ‘wings’ downwards. Your cap is now sealed.
- Faster, easier, and cleaner to use than a hand capper
- Relatively lightweight and compact
- No further tools required
- Some hazards. Glass can sometimes be crushed in the process, leaving your beer undrinkable. The wings have also been known to snap for some users.
- Standardized size. This capper will only work on one type of bottle-neck and will not allow you to modify the capping size.
I love it for: Speeding up my bottling.
I hate it for: Not allowing for fancy bottles.
The bench top bottle capper:
This will probably cost you more than you feel like spending on your first capper, but after a batch or two, it’s going to look like a much more viable option!
- Much faster bottling than other options
- Versatile – you can adjust the height (and cap size if you buy an extra part)
- Fix in place easily, just screw it into your bench.
- Most expensive option
- Too big for most kitchen cupboards
- Friends try to borrow them and never return them
I love it for: The ease of use. I can have my bottling done in a fraction of the time!
I hate it for: Making me lazy. I now refuse to ever use a hand capper again.
The bench top capper is easily the best beer bottle capper available for home brewers. You may need to use other options due to budget or mobility, but the bench top model should be on your radar for your next home brewing purchase. You can get any of these on eBay or homebrewing.org