“What should I use when bottling my cider a cork or a cap?” I hear this question asked all the time and it is a question that is continually echoed throughout all home-brewing circles, whether making cider, beer, wine, or mead. I’m going to put an end to the debate once and for all.
The question a one that doesn’t have a simple answer. So when deciding on the answer that is right for you, here are a few things to consider:
Duration of Storage
If you are like me then this one you don’t have to worry about. My cider doesn’t last very long before its consumed. Either I’m not making enough or I’m making it too delicious so that all my friends drinking it all. If you are making a lower abv, sweet cider you’re not going to want to age it that long, but drier ciders and those with a high alcohol content definitely improve with a least a year of aging.
Standard crown caps should not be used for extended storage, though quality Oxygen Barrier Caps do just fine. The winner for aging your cider longer than a year is a quality cork . Dip it in Bottle Sealing Wax for added safety (and elegance).
Corks cost significantly more than crown caps, especially the high quality corks. This difference doesn’t really matter all that much if you make cider occasionally, but this cost can really add up if homebrewing a lot or brewing commercial quantities. On Amazon, you can get a bag of 100 corks for $20 while 144 oxygen Barrier Crown Caps costs $7. No need corking cider you’ll be drinking right away!
This one is simple. If you want to bottle your cider in a wine bottle, you need to go with a cork. If you want to use the 12 or 22oz beer bottles, go with the crown cap. You can even use a crown on American style champagne bottles.
The type of bottle and closure you choose depends primarily on perception. People are trained to attribute 12oz amber bottles with beer and carbonation. There is a ritualistic “pssst” noise attributed to uncapping a beer bottle. For this reason, I wouldn’t bottle a still cider with a crown cap. If somebody uncaps a bottle cap without the noise of the CO2 escaping, they think something is wrong, or the cider is bad. So cap those carbonated ciders, and enjoy that refreshing noise made popular by beer commercials.
This is a perfect example of crown cap perception:
On the other hand the corked bottle is perceived as more elegant and romantic. It is attributed to wine and though of as “high-class.” There is a different ritual to opening a wine bottle – one that is much better suited for those long-aged, higher alcohol ciders.
The ZORK is a new option on the market. Its a peel and reseal closure that is a nice modern solution as a wine bottle closure. It allows the bottle to be opened with out a cork screw, and the cork can be used to easily reseal the bottle after opening. It also seems to perform quite well compared to other options. The price is significantly higher than the regular cork or crown cap and the perception is up for debate.
I’m intrigued, so I think i’ll get a pack and try them out.
30 pack of Zork Closures on Amazon ($20)
Swing-top, or Grolsch style bottles are an easy way to seal your cider. Just make sure the gaskets are well sanitized and aren’t old and cracked. These can be a good option for short term bottle storage, but shouldn’t be used for extended aging. They are expensive up front, but can be used over and over again. If the gaskets start wearing out, you can always get replacements.