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How to - DIY Demijohn (the Bottlejohn)

Started by LordEoin, December 21, 2013, 12:57:44 PM

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December 21, 2013, 12:57:44 PM Last Edit: December 21, 2013, 09:48:43 PM by LordEoin
With the first ever NHC wine kit raffle started, I figured that this would be a good time to post this quick guide.

I use a lot of demijohns and I often need a temporary or disposable 1 gallon FV, because:
The solution? A 5 liter water bottle from aldi/lidl/tesco. I call it the Bottlejohn!
Here's one in use to start a dandelion wine.

They generally cost about €1.30 and you also get a gallon of bottled spring water for your wine  ;D (Remember to boil it)
The only downside is that the ridges in the bottle act like shelves for sediment. A bit of care while racking and it's fine.

Pros: light, cheap, easy, disposable, local (like your mom). an extra 500ml headroom
Cons: sediment on ridges.

A few small modifications and you're good to go.
I'll start with the easiest version and work my way through.

Option 1 - Simply loosen the cap
The constant stream of carbon dioxide from the yeast keeps oxygen out.
This works great for primary fermentation, but once things calm down it's a good time to rack the wine off the lees into a more airtight FV to chug away for the next few weeks/months.

Option 2 - Fit an airlock
Use a 10mm drill-bit to make a hole in the cap. I find that wood bits are the best as they make nice clean holes.
Generally the seal is good, but after a few used the hole can get a bit stretched (giggitty!)

Option 3 - Fit a bung, then an airlock
The rubber bung that you use on a 5 gallon bucket works great here. It's always good to have a few spares. You can buy them here for 50cent.
Use a 14-15mm drill bit. Again wood works best (at least that's what she says)
A tight bunghole makes a better seal (oh yeah!), and using a well fitting rubber protects you against infection (... must resist)

Otherwise, or the lazy folks, you can also buy them complete here for €3.25


Those bottles are super value. I've only done 2 wines and a mead. Used these Aldi bottles for them. I didn't even drill the cap. Just left the cap loose with no air lock. That's proper lazy  :P


Simply leaving the cap loose is perfectly fine for faster ferments like kits.
But my hedgerow wines generally ferment for about 3 months, so an airlock adds a bit of protection and peace of mind.
I also just love the bubbling... ;D


The brewbelt looks familiar.
You can figure-8 this around 2 smaller vessels such as 2 x Cheapo Johnny-Johns as described above.


Looking closer at the pic, I think you have figure-8'd.


yes, it's figure of 8'd alright.
Even if you've only got one demijohn in use it's best to loop it around 2 with the second one full of water (or start a second wine), otherwise you add too much heat by having it wrapped around twice  ;)

mr hoppy

Yep, the Lidl water bottles are almost the exact same as plastic demijohns. Hadn't thought of drilling the lid though.


Ditto on the loosened cap for a quick-and-dirty ferment job.  Works fine for my cheap-and-dirty ciders.  Love the idea of the fitted airlock for safer and longer-term fermentations.  Thanks for sharing the photos!
Daily blog about life (and brewing!) in Ireland:


Guess what the Italien home wine makers use for a long term air lock ( after just using a piece of foil/clingy/kitchen roll for the vigorous phase??

NO! to all theose wacky expensive answers:  They just pour in 2 mm of olive oil into the neck of the DJ/Carboy!

Not even extra virgin - thats too good - save it for the salads!
Remember: The Nationals are just round the corner - time to get brewing


A bit of vigorous lateral twisting (I can't think of a better way to describe it!) will help the sediment to drop off the ridges.
So if you want my address it's number one at the end of the bar,
Where I sit with the broken angels, clutching at straws,
And nursing our scars.


damn italians with their oily wine!

my version of 'lateral twisting' is to just give it a slap every now and then :)


So if you want my address it's number one at the end of the bar,
Where I sit with the broken angels, clutching at straws,
And nursing our scars.

fishjam45 (Colin)

Will be having a go at doing a lidl/aldi cider in one of these pretty soon.
Garden County Brewers



CH takes a step to the side as FJ gets stoned :o,

fishjam45 (Colin)

Garden County Brewers