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Bottling with a Beer Gun

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#1 MtnBrewer


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Posted 06 April 2009 - 08:43 AM

Bottling with a Beer Guncontributed by Stout_fanI bottle with a Blichman Beer Gun and thought some of my observances might be helpful to other folks. So here's a few pointers, some found out the hard way. There are plenty of other methods. This is what works best for me:
    [*]Naturally you have your beer transferred to a keg to start out with.[*]Make sure you have enough CO2, or a backup tank. Running out is rather depressing.[*]Make sure you have enough empty bottles and caps. A 5 gal corney will almost fill two cases of 12 oz. bottles. Running out of bottles or caps is awkward to say the least.[*]Chill the keg down to serving temp. Make sure it has the correct amount of CO2 you want in your beer.[*]If possible move the keg to a lagering fridge if you have one available and chill the keg down to around 35 degrees. Leave it set there for a week or more. This has several advantages:a. More chill haze will form and drop out giving you a clearer beer.b. The colder temp will reduce the CO2 partial pressure making it easier to bottle with less foaming.c. Less foaming means you will preserve your desired level of carbonation.[*]My preference for sanitizing is StarSan. Mix up a 5 gal bucket deep enough to cover the bottles. If you put that on top of another bucket, say one full of PBW, you won't have to bend over as far. It's easier on the back that way.[*]It helps if you can have someone to cap while you fill. It makes it go a lot faster. Just keep the chatter to a minimum. When you talk you spit. That spit landing in your bottle will create unique and unanticipated flavors.[*]I like using a 15 x 20 x 1" deep serving tray for bottling. It contains all the drippings and small spills. The capper is located on another table with a towel for wiping off the sanitizer.[*]About this time I slip on a pair of gloves as the < 2.4 ph StarSan really does a number on my skin.[*]Place the beer gun, feed line and one bottle in the StarSan.[*]Count out your caps plus a spare or two. I used to place them in a bucket and pour the sanitizer on top of them. The problem is you can trap air under the cap leaving a nice place the sanitizer didn't reach. FIRST fill the pail with sanitizer THEN place the caps in. With a little bit of care you can make them all land gasket up. I'm sure some folks are saying "Duh" at this point. You don't even want to know how many years I went turning those buggers over in the sanitizer when I could have done it an easier way.[*]Pull the vent on the keg releasing all of its pressure.[*]Hook up the gas "T." One end goes to the beergun, the other to your keg. I like keeping my keg and tank on the floor. That way it can't start siphoning out on its own. I've found 5 to 7 PSI of CO2 pressure works pretty good.[*]Fit the 20' liquid tube to the beergun and assemble the gun itself.[*]Pull that one bottle out of the sanitizer and place the beer gun in it and lay it down on the tray. Sanitize the ball/pinlock liquid connector by immersing it in the StarSan and connect it to the other end of the liquid line.[*]If you have a spray bottle of StarSan (and what self respecting germophobe brewer doesn't?), shoot the liquid post and seat the liquid connector.[*]If you grab two 6 packs out of the case you will find 12 bottles fit nicely in the 5 gal. bucket. I start from the side of the bucket facing the bottling station. I also pull first from this side maximizing sanitizer time.[*]You need a dump glass and a sampling glass. We've got to exercise the proper QC here![*]If you're doing this by yourself, I find pulling two bottles out at a time works best. If you have slave labor available for the capping job, pull what's convenient, like all of them.[*]Pull the beer gun out of the bottle and stand the bottle up maintaining cleanliness of the crimp area.[*]Flow enough beer to fill and clear out the sanitizer in the line. This should be going in the dump bucket, or a nearby sink.[*]After you've purged the line, pour some into the sample cup. Just don't touch the sides, as it's non sanitized.[*]You can store the beergun back in the first bottle while you ascertain the quality of your latest brew. Good? OK, let's continue.[*]Start off with the bottle the beergun is presently in. Hold at a 45 and purge with CO2 for a second or two. Now's a good time to check that dispensing pressure.[*]Start the liquid flow. Keeping the bottle at a 45 lets the liquid on your hand drop and miss the bottle. At the last moment hold the bottle vertically.[*]With a bit of practice you will find the proper place to stop so that when you withdraw the beergun you have the proper fill level. The first fill will have a bit extra foam as the beer in the line has warmed up. You can compensate for this by pulling the beergun out as the bottle fills.[*]After you've stopped the flow, hold the end of the gun just above the beer level in the bottle and gently depress the CO2 a small amount to displace the last bit of air in the bottle. NOTE: it is important to have the gun ABOVE the beer and just crack the valve when you do this. You will forget only once![*]Go fill the second bottle in the same fashion. If you are capping, store the gun in the third bottle.[*]Cap and dry the bottles. Keeping the 6 pack carrier nearby helps. When capping, do not touch the inside of the cap or the bottle rim.[*]Dry off those two. Shove them in the carrier. Pull the next two bottles and drain.[*]Fill as the next two, remembering the first bottle might have a bit more foam from the beer warming.[/list]

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