Waxed bottles--is there a point beyond visual appeal?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by BirdsandHops, Jan 14, 2020.

  1. BirdsandHops

    BirdsandHops Poo-Bah (2,636) Apr 14, 2008 Oregon
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    I write this post as I once again nearly cut my hand and warped a bottle opener trying to get a waxed cap off of a beer. In this case, The Bruery's Fuzzy BBLs. I've been in the craft scene for over a decade now and it seems like waxing bottles has only become more prevalent. I used to think it made bottles look great (which I still do to an extent), which I justified by believing that the waxing also prevented oxidation. After doing numerous verticals over the years, some of which contained heavily oxidized beers from waxed bottles right next to un-oxidized beers from regularly capped bottles, I give less credence to the belief that waxing prevents oxidation. From my experience, the bottles least affected by oxidation with age seem to be those that are bottle fermented, regardless of waxing. These are admittedly anecdotes, I admit.

    Now, though, I approach waxed bottles with frustration or annoyance of the extra barrier between my beer and me. Some waxes come off easily, requiring a simple slide with a knife up the bottle and then peeling away the wax. Other wax is super thick and bendy, requiring a lot of slicing through and prying away (The Bruery comes to mind here). Yet other waxes are super brittle and thick, requiring practically a chisel and sending tiny fragments all over the place (looking at you, Pohjala). So do you find waxed bottles to be advantageous? Any tips/tricks of removing those particularly tenacious waxes would also be welcome.
     
  2. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,137) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    I wish I knew how to reliably remove bottle wax. I do think it likely started as a scheme to protect the bottle seal as well as looking cool and think that as packaging equipment has gotten better its morphed into more of the latter. I'll suffer through it for some beers ( all the Pohjala I've had comes to mind) but ya I could generally do without it. To me just cork and cap if you want it to be extra safe for aging
     
  3. MistaRyte

    MistaRyte Zealot (525) Jan 14, 2008 Virginia
    Trader

    Cue Greg from Greg's Beer Reviews: "Useless! Tits on a boar-hog!"
     
  4. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (3,253) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
    Society Trader

    I don't like waxed bottles and think there's no reason for it, but deal with them using the opener below. I push the shorter bottom lip through the wax/plastic then lift the cap, ripping the wax. Sometimes it slips out and I have to shove it in deeper, but it always works. Before that I used a knife, which works too. I have a longer handle version of this opener if I need more leverage. These can be found on Ebay, though not very cheaply and often rusty.


    [​IMG]
     
  5. thebeers

    thebeers Poo-Bah (2,824) Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    I use the bottle opener in my kitchen shears to remove the wax. Not the serrated thing at the top in this photo, but the four-points opener between the handles. Clamp the wax just underneath the bottle cap between those so that the four points stick into the wax, then twist 180 degrees. It cuts right through the wax without having to deal with knives or anything. Then you can use whatever other bottle opener you like to open the bottle like normal.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Scrapss

    Scrapss Savant (926) Nov 15, 2008 Pennsylvania
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    This

     
  7. Immortale25

    Immortale25 Poo-Bah (3,050) May 13, 2011 North Carolina
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    Wine key. Use the serrated blade to carve just below where the cap is. Even if you get just about 1/4 of the circumference chiseled away, you can go in with a bottle opener and get a good pry on the cap.

    Edit: And yes, the wax is useless
     
  8. DIM

    DIM Poo-Bah (2,753) Sep 28, 2006 Pennsylvania
    Society

    The point if waxed bottles and corks 'n cages is to teach my kids naughty words. I have strong feelings about both. :rage:
     
  9. KevinJohnson2

    KevinJohnson2 Devotee (434) Jul 8, 2013 Michigan
    Society Trader

    I always appreciate the way Side Project and Perennial put the little pull ribbon on their waxed bottles. You get the great looked of the waxed bottle but none of the hassle of cutting through it when it’s time to open.
     
  10. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (3,253) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
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    I've heard of people softening the wax/plastic with a lighter, but I'm thinking that's riskier than a knife because you could actually harm the beer vs. cutting a finger off. :astonished:
     
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  11. Pinz412

    Pinz412 Initiate (43) Nov 20, 2019 Pennsylvania
    Trader

    I was skeptical about the lighter trick until I tried it. The first time I tried it was on a bottle of Brew Gentlemen's Doublemex that had a particularly thick wax coating on it. It only took two seconds to soften the wax, and I was able to easily pry the cap off from there. I think this is my preferred method now, but I still plan on buying a Yopener in the near future.
     
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  12. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,006) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    What I've hated are waxed bottles covering a bottle cap. How stupid. If it's corked I just always used my most stout corkscrew, drilled through the wax and pulled the cork straight through it all. Never had a problem. The waxed bottles are a cosmetic and needless complication.
     
  13. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,612) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Trader

    Keegan Ales sells Super Kitty in 1 litter swing top bottles with thick wax covering that is like a bad joke. We used to kid around and say it's because Tommy doesn't want anyone to be able to open them.

    I have a hard time believing wax on beer bottles is anything more than pretty packaging, like a bow on a gift.
     
  14. ktr5010

    ktr5010 Devotee (415) Dec 12, 2014 Illinois
    Society Trader

    I hate wax on a bottles. It just makes getting to the beer a pain. But use a lighter to soften/melt the wax. I've been doing this for a while now and haven't ever harmed the beer. Wine keys are fine but some of the wax is hard coming out of the fridge and splinters into small pieces.
     
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  15. Ranbot

    Ranbot Savant (901) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Yup. The only beneficiary of waxed bottles are Johnson & Johnson's Band-Aid® sales.


    And if waxed bottles are a nuisance... don't forget this happened last year:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  16. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Crusader (731) May 3, 2016 Illinois
    Trader

    I thought the wax signified the beer wasn't for drinking, only trading?
     
  17. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,318) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    The presence of wax on the bottle represents the brewery can price the beer even higher - more profit.

    Cheers!
     
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  18. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (4,551) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader

    You know, my first thought was, "Duh; oxidation!"

    But then I remembered a couple of recent experiences with badly oxidized beers that happened to be waxed, including one where the cap was legitimately rusty.

    Then you have the breweries that used to wax, but once they amped up their distro, found it no longer financially feasible. Prairie Bomb! might be the most salient example, but it's not the only one. When a beer is "rare" (or more accurately, limited production), it's not as much of a sunk cost.

    It may indeed help with oxidation, I suppose, if one looks at all beers across the spectrum. It certainly adds a pleasing, fancy aesthetic, and while that may not be functional itself, it's not exactly a bad thing. Art is art; a pleasing presentation for any product, be it a beer bottle, a car, or album cover art, is reason enough at the end of the day.
     
  19. Mr3dPHD

    Mr3dPHD Initiate (188) May 6, 2008 Florida

    Oh my gosh, that's genius! I can't believe I've never thought of this. I wasted exactly three minutes of my life with a pocket knife the other day whittling like a boy scout with a piece of driftwood. So irritating.

    I'll admit though. The bottle was very pretty before I massacred it's face.
     
  20. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,990) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society Trader

    That's the way, aha aha, I like it.
     
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  21. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,990) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
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    And an excuse to charge more?
     
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  22. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,318) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Yup!

    As a put it in post #17 above: "The presence of wax on the bottle represents the brewery can price the beer even higher..."

    Cheers!
     
    Bitterbill likes this.
  23. spicoli00

    spicoli00 Defender (618) Jul 6, 2005 Indiana

    Really, the best thing to do is bury them in sand for aging.
     
  24. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (6,502) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    You beat me to it Jack.

    Yep. As soon as I see a bottle has wax on it, I immediately assume that it will be priced at $20 or more for a bomber. It's very rare that I've been wrong with that assumption.
     
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  25. GOBLIN

    GOBLIN Meyvn (1,175) Mar 3, 2013 Ohio
    Trader

    I used to think that waxed bottles were meant to be cellared. But now I'm convinced that waxed bottles are meant to frustrate me during opening so I have a honest reason to drink.
     
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  26. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Crusader (731) May 3, 2016 Illinois
    Trader

    Is there anything worse than spending $500 on a website for what you thought was a beautiful candle only to discover it is just a worthless waxed bottle filled with KBBS?
     
  27. GOBLIN

    GOBLIN Meyvn (1,175) Mar 3, 2013 Ohio
    Trader

    Oh geeez ... is that real ?
     
  28. John_M

    John_M Poo-Bah (6,502) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon
    Moderator Society Trader

    Probably not.

    Do you often spend $500 on candles (beautiful or otherwise)? If you do, then I can absolutely see where this would be pretty annoying.
     
  29. Ranbot

    Ranbot Savant (901) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania
    Society

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  30. jstilwell

    jstilwell Zealot (588) Oct 21, 2008 Massachusetts
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    As someone who likes to cellar big beers for long periods of time, my (albeit) anecdotal data seems to suggest that wax does indeed prevent oxidation.
     
  31. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,381) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    It's possible to make of fun of something while still fully participating in it.
     
  32. Ranbot

    Ranbot Savant (901) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania
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    True.
     
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  33. spicoli00

    spicoli00 Defender (618) Jul 6, 2005 Indiana

    or an assassin bottle refilled with Founder's imperial stout :flushed:
     
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  34. jglenn73

    jglenn73 Initiate (108) Jul 28, 2015 New Jersey

    No
     
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  35. Beer_Stan

    Beer_Stan Initiate (135) Mar 15, 2014 California
    Trader

    My often juvenile mind couldn't help itself with this one.
     
  36. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (3,253) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
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    I don't recall the beer now, but I had one that was waxed, capped, and corked. No way that beer was going to escape. At that point it's obvious that the wax is decorative.
     
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  37. dcotom

    dcotom Poo-Bah (2,334) Aug 4, 2014 Iowa
    Society Trader

    This. I've never had a problem opening a bottle of Maker's Mark. You get the visual appeal without the risk of slicing off a body part. Why would you not do this?
     
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  38. dbrauneis

    dbrauneis Poo-Bah (8,576) Dec 8, 2007 North Carolina
    Moderator Society Trader

    I always wondered about that...maybe they figured they could identify their previous customers by the missing or scarred digits.
     
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  39. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,019) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Trader

    Stops oxygen from sneaking thru a cap, but I hate taking off wax tops. I’m always afraid I’ll run a knife thru my hand. They look nice, they serve a purpose, but I don’t like dealing with them. If they waxed it like Makers Mark does it wouldn’t be a hassle.
     
  40. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,318) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Nope. The wax is oxygen permeable.

    If the breweries truly want a package that stops 100% of oxygen ingress then can those beers. Apparently Sierra Nevada made this decision for there recent release of Barrel Aged Narwhal.

    Cheers!