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How to Bottle Beer from a Keg

03/13/2014 9:38 PM | Deleted user
How to Bottle Beer from a Keg
by Jason Barker

This is how I get my beer from my keg into bottles. Many people use the Blichmann Beer Gun to bottle their beers. But, when I first got into this hobby I wasn’t sure I wanted to invest the $75-100 for this tool, so I researched and found this cheap setup that has served me well over the years. So well in fact, that I have no desire to buy a Beer Gun.

Here’s what you’ll need:
  • One of those cheap black plastic picnic/cobra type taps ($4-6);
  • A clear plastic tube from a bottling wand ($4). Buy the wand, then just pull the valve off the end, you don’t need the valve;
  • A “beer out” quick disconnect fitting to connect a beer line from your keg to your picnic tap ($5-6); and
  • A length of beer line. I use about 4 feet. Longer will help with foaming issues due to increased friction ($4-5). 
All of these parts are readily available at FH Steinbart or Brew Brothers.

Push the beer line onto the barbed ends of the picnic tap and the keg fitting. (Dip the beer line in hot water for a minute to soften it up and make it easier to slide on the barbs.) You don’t need hose clamps for these ends. Then shove the clear plastic wand into the pouring nozzle of the picnic tap, CAREFULLY! If you jam it too hard, you will crack your new tap. Just push it in while twisting it a little.

You are ready to go once you’ve assembled and sanitized your new bottling apparatus, bottles, and caps!

Here’s some pointers to make it go easier:
  • Make sure the keg, beer line, and bottles are all cold. This will help cut down on foaming.
  • Release all pressure from your keg then add 3-5psi for bottling, you want this to be a smooth flow to cut down on foaming.
  • Insert the wand into the bottle about 1/2” from the bottom to minimize turbulence once the beer gets flowing.
  • Press the lever on the picnic tap full blast, do not try to feather it. Once you start flowing, don’t stop. You want one continuous smooth flow until it’s topped up where you want it.
  • Have your caps and capper sanitized and 100% ready to go so when you’ve filled a bottle you can immediately cap it on the foam that should be slowly erupting out the top. It’s ok if a little beer/foam spills out the top, in fact you should plan on it.
  • The #1 problem beginners have with this method is too much foam. If it’s foaming too much then review the steps above, otherwise maybe your beer is over carbonated to begin with. 
Some people don’t like this method due to not purging the bottle with CO2 prior to filling, meaning your beer is coming in direct contact with air while it’s being bottled and could get oxidized and adversely effect flavor. My opinion is that for the time and surface area that the beer is exposed, there’s not enough oxidation happening to make any difference. Certainly not enough difference to take on the additional expense and fighting with the extra hoses and fittings that a Beer Gun requires. The beer that does come in contact with the air has a layer of foam on it, doesn’t it? What happens to that “contaminated” layer of foam? That’s right, it gets pushed right out the top of the bottle before you cap it. I’m not knocking the effectiveness of a Beer Gun, but for people who want a low cost option, I think this is worth a try. I’ve bottled a multitude of award winning beers using this method, so I’m confident that with some practice you can too.

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