Do 'oxygen absorption' bottle caps work?

bottle caps that absorb oxygen

Dedicated brewers will know that beer exposure to oxygen should only occur before fermentation and not after.

It's the same with food - oxygen will damage food so that's why many foods are packaged in plastic with 'oxygen scavaging' features - look at potato chips, the bags they come in are filled with nitrogen!

So if you are trying to minimize the amount of oxygen in your bottled beer, mead or wine, you may want to consider using oxygen absorbing caps.

The bottling process can add unwanted oxygen into the beer.

To remediate this you can do things like being careful with your pouring into the bottle and using a bottling wand and if you want to do more than that, the bottle caps can help remove the oxygen that sits above the surface of the beer and between the bottle cap.

If you are looking to cellar or age your beer, these caps could help you achieve your goal.

If you intend to drink your beers quickly, you may not need them.

Do oxygen bottle caps really work?

Now, let's take a skeptical view of this concept first. Do you really need to remove oxygen from the beer bottle?

If you have bottle conditioned a 1000 beers and never had a problem, do you even need to use these crowns?

They can if you are intending to age beers or extend the hoppiness of your beer.

The loss of hops aroma can be one of the first signs of oxidation.

In addition, the compounds extracted from hops will can with oxygen, which forms inert compounds that have less aroma and thus a reduction in hop flavor.

Bottle caps which 'scavenge' oxygen from the beer will help prevent or delay this reaction from occurring.

If the food production and beer brewing industries spending millions of dollars doing it, then it surely works.

How do oxygen absorption caps work?

Oxygen-absorbing caps have an internal liner that once activated by water, will absorb oxygen in the headspace of the bottle.

Oxygen absorbing technology is based on oxidation or a combination of one of the following components: iron powder, ascorbic acid, photosensitive polymers, and helpful enzymes.

Glucose oxidase is an enzyme that is popular in the elimination of O2 from bottled beer or wine.

How do you use oxygen absorbing caps?

These caps activate once you get them wet. So once they are capped on, you can invert the beer and they will stand ready to begin absorbing oxygen.

Many suppliers recommend to not wet or sanitize caps in advance of your bottling session or they will not work correctly. They’ll still close the bottle off from the air like any other cap, but the oxygen-absorbing function will be used up.

This does mean you can sanitize them just prior to use.

But that might lead you to ask:

Do I need to sanitize oxygen absorbing caps?

This author personally no longer sanitizes beer caps. They come out of their bag clean and frankly after 1000s of beers bottled without them, I've never had a problem. 

That said, if it is your standard practice to sanitize caps, then a quick dunk in some Star San is just fine, as long as you do it just prior to bottling and not well in advance. This is because the wetness activates the liner of the cap.

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