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Corking Belgians

Summary

Once I had the process down it took about 2 minutes to fill, cork, and cage each 750 ml bottle.

The results were pretty good. The cork is sealing the bottle well and overall the corked bottle looks fabulous. The process was almost as quick as using crown caps once I figured out the technique.

Storing Your Bottled Beer

Similar to corked wine bottles, you want to store Belgian bottles on their sides so the corks remain hydrated.  Unlike wine you're going to get yeast settling out.  Most people will store bottles upright for several days before serving so that the yeast settles on the bottom rather than the side.  In any case make sure whoever's pouring the bottle knows to be careful to not stir the yeast up.

What I’d Do Differently

While I’m happy with the results I plan to change a few things the next time.

  • Cork Depth – I was worried that pushing the corks in too far would make removing the cork later too difficult.  At the time I was using a Castelain bottle as a reference and they use shorter corks.  Since then I've seen that Unibroue bottles use the same corks that More Beer and they push them in an extra quarter of an inch.  The end result looks better and there's no problem getting the cork out once it's carbonated.  The right measurement is about 1/2 sticking out and should line up with the cage securing under the second ridge on mouth of the bottle.

    Cork Depth

  • Cages – I used a fairly thick shaft screwdriver to tighten the cages.  The end result was a very tight cage and a loop that's too small to comfortably twist with your fingers.  I would instead use something closer to the diameter of a pencil and turn six half turns as is standard on Champagne bottles.

Update

Here's a picture of the cork at the correct depth:

Corked Bottle

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