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General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: yso191 on January 04, 2013, 01:21:10 AM

Title: best bottling equipment
Post by: yso191 on January 04, 2013, 01:21:10 AM
Well, I thought when I got into this that I would just keg my beer.  But I'm running into obvious limitations (giving beer away, taking beer to someone else's house, etc.).  So now I am looking into getting going on bottling. 

I value doing it right the first time, so what equipment is the best, easiest, most efficient and leads to the most sanitary process?  I'm pretty settled on the Blichmann beer gun, but what else?

Steve
Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: tygo on January 04, 2013, 01:50:37 AM
Just make sure the bottles and very clean and well sanitized and chill them before you fill with the gun.

I give label-free, previously rinsed bottles an oxyclean soak, rinse them, give them a sani-clean soak, rinse again and bake at 350 for an hour.  Way overkill?  Yep, but it makes me feel better.  This regime is only for beers that will be stored for a long time or submitted to competitions.  Also, I don't often do this so the extra time doesn't kill me.

For taking beer to a friends house I just sanitize a clean growler with starsan.

Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: narcout on January 04, 2013, 02:16:44 AM
I think the vinator, in combination with a bottle tree, is the easiest and fastest way to sanitize a run of bottles. 

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/vinator-bottle-rinser.html

If you're bottling from the keg, these look pretty cool (though I just purge with CO2 and bottle right from the tap) - they also make one that fits Perlick forward-seal faucets:

http://www.williamsbrewing.com/BEER-FAUCET-FAUCET-TUBING-GROWLER-FILLER-ADAPTER-P3154.aspx

Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: ukolowiczd on January 04, 2013, 02:23:02 AM
+1 to the vinator w/ star san and bottle tree - changed my life by making bottling 1000% more easier & faster (wait make that 10,000%). I'm reading Dave Miller's new book and he mentions liking the Fermentap counter pressure bottle filler over all the others. I've never used any of them but am also considering purchasing in order to share keg beer.

http://morebeer.com/view_product/18279//Counter_Pressure_Bottle_Filler
Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: bluesman on January 04, 2013, 02:51:01 AM
I bottle my beer from the keg using a Blichmann Beer Gun. You'll still want to have a bottle tree and a good quality capper, but the key is to use super clean and sanitized bottles. You could also use the bottle wand if you choose to go the frugal route. I used a bottle wand for years with great success, but the beer gun is awesome.
Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: euge on January 04, 2013, 02:59:56 AM
I find that when keeping the bottles rinsed after use as much as possible then the "sanitize" feature of my dishwasher is sufficient to keep my filled bottles infection-free.

If your family drinks soda then the bottles are an excellent way to store your excess- what won't fit in the kegs and are great to take to friends' houses. A carbonator cap (http://morebeer.com/view_product/18250/) is a great tool for rapid carbonation.
Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: Joe Sr. on January 04, 2013, 02:58:00 PM
I bottle my beer from the keg using a Blichmann Beer Gun. You'll still want to have a bottle tree and a good quality capper, but the key is to use super clean and sanitized bottles. You could also use the bottle wand if you choose to go the frugal route. I used a bottle wand for years with great success, but the beer gun is awesome.

I bottled several cases over the holidays using a piece of racking cane and a stopper.  Worked great and actually got me thinking I should bottle more.  I used oxy caps for a little extra insurance.

Definitely the bottle tree makes this process easier.

I have a number of old Phil's Phillers that I used to use when bottling and have thought about trying them with bottling from the keg.  I'm not sure how well they would work with carbonated beer, but if you're bottling before carbonating they're awesome.
Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: morticaixavier on January 04, 2013, 03:47:54 PM
I just tried a new process for bottling beers for bottle conditioning.

All my bottling buckets (the ones with spigots) are a little funky at this point, particularly in the spigot itself as it's nearly impossible to clean those well so this week I did something different. I added my priming sugar (and some new yeast as this beer was a big beast) to a clean sanitized and purged keg, racked the beer into the keg and sealed it up. I could then safely shake the keg a bit to make sure I had good distribution of sugar and yeast. Then I just forced the green beer out with a few psi of co2 into bottles and capped as normal.

It worked really well, better than a bottling bucket for sure.

In terms of sanitizing bottles i use the oven. I always rinse bottles as soon as they are empty and delabel as needed. I rinse well with hot water and put them in the oven the night before I am bottling. bake at 350 for 20 minutes or so and then shut the oven off and let them cool over night.

If I am bottling carbonated beer I am not usually doing a whole batch or for a long storage period so I just santize in a bucket and call it good enough.
Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: theDarkSide on January 04, 2013, 04:08:09 PM
I have the Blichmann Beergun for beer I'm going to store or for competitions.  I also have the adapter narcout posted if I'm taking beer to the club meeting or I know it's going to be consumed in the near future.
Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: kramerog on January 04, 2013, 04:13:04 PM
Agree with what others have said re vinator and star san being the best.  I much prefer the Black Beauty capper over most benchtop cappers because most benchtop cappers have to be adjusted for different height bottles or require shims. 
Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: The Professor on January 04, 2013, 04:44:37 PM
I bottled several cases over the holidays using a piece of racking cane and a stopper.  Worked great and actually got me thinking I should bottle more.  I used oxy caps for a little extra insurance.

Definitely the bottle tree makes this process easier...

+1 on all counts.   I've been doing the racking cane/stopper thing to fill bottles from the keg for 2 decades (even for beers intended to cellar in the bottle for 2 years) and it's all you really need.

If the beer is conditioned properly, and the beer and the bottles are as cold as possible (ie., near freezing) at filling time, there is virtually no foaming  or loss of carbonation.  And being a very simple setup, it is easy to use, to clean and to sanitize.

The vinator & bottle tree (and StarSan for that matter)  are newer additions to my setup and have definitely made the whole process of sanitizing the bottles much easier (compared to all the years when I stubbornly clung to the 'bleach soak' method).
Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: weithman5 on January 04, 2013, 05:23:50 PM
i usually just run my bottles through sanitize cycle on the dishwasher if i am only bottling 20 or less and right from there in to the process.  for larger batches i through star san in a bucket and submerge a bunch of bottles. i have old dishwasher racks from now defunct dishwasher that i just put the bottles on to dry.
Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: beersk on January 04, 2013, 07:27:22 PM
I just tried a new process for bottling beers for bottle conditioning.

All my bottling buckets (the ones with spigots) are a little funky at this point, particularly in the spigot itself as it's nearly impossible to clean those well so this week I did something different. I added my priming sugar (and some new yeast as this beer was a big beast) to a clean sanitized and purged keg, racked the beer into the keg and sealed it up. I could then safely shake the keg a bit to make sure I had good distribution of sugar and yeast. Then I just forced the green beer out with a few psi of co2 into bottles and capped as normal.

It worked really well, better than a bottling bucket for sure.


I like this idea, I may try this on my next hefe even though I've got a bottling bucket I've only used once. Seems like a good way to avoid oxidation. You can rack into a co2 filled vessel and fill bottles with co2 pressure instead of o2.
Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: morticaixavier on January 04, 2013, 07:34:37 PM
I just tried a new process for bottling beers for bottle conditioning.

All my bottling buckets (the ones with spigots) are a little funky at this point, particularly in the spigot itself as it's nearly impossible to clean those well so this week I did something different. I added my priming sugar (and some new yeast as this beer was a big beast) to a clean sanitized and purged keg, racked the beer into the keg and sealed it up. I could then safely shake the keg a bit to make sure I had good distribution of sugar and yeast. Then I just forced the green beer out with a few psi of co2 into bottles and capped as normal.

It worked really well, better than a bottling bucket for sure.


I like this idea, I may try this on my next hefe even though I've got a bottling bucket I've only used once. Seems like a good way to avoid oxidation. You can rack into a co2 filled vessel and fill bottles with co2 pressure instead of o2.

yeah, it seemed to go quicker to but it's been a goodly while since I bottled a full 5 gallons the old way so who's to say.
Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: ukolowiczd on January 06, 2013, 07:59:18 PM
I bottled several cases over the holidays using a piece of racking cane and a stopper.  Worked great and actually got me thinking I should bottle more.  I used oxy caps for a little extra insurance.

Definitely the bottle tree makes this process easier...

+1 on all counts.   I've been doing the racking cane/stopper thing to fill bottles from the keg for 2 decades (even for beers intended to cellar in the bottle for 2 years) and it's all you really need.

If the beer is conditioned properly, and the beer and the bottles are as cold as possible (ie., near freezing) at filling time, there is virtually no foaming  or loss of carbonation.  And being a very simple setup, it is easy to use, to clean and to sanitize.

The vinator & bottle tree (and StarSan for that matter)  are newer additions to my setup and have definitely made the whole process of sanitizing the bottles much easier (compared to all the years when I stubbornly clung to the 'bleach soak' method).

Very interested in this "don't have to buy a $70 counter pressure filler" method. Does it really work? How's it work? I get everything has to be cold, but the racking cane. Do you open the keg and put the racking cane in the keg? Or are you pushing out beer using CO2 but using the racking cane to fill bottles? Will they hold on to their carbonation for extended periods of time?
Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: denny on January 06, 2013, 09:10:41 PM
I do something similar, but simpler.  I push a piece of tubing long enough to reach the bottom of a bottle in a #2 one hole stopper.  Put the top end of the tubing in a tap and seat the stopper in a bottle.  Open the tap.  The bottle will fill about 1/3 f the way before pressure builds up and the flow stops.  At that point, use your thumb to very slightly crack the stopper.  The flow will begin again and you can control; the flow rate with your thumb on the stopper.  When the bottle is full, seat the stopper and close the tap.  I get virtually no foam doing it this way.
Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: ukolowiczd on January 07, 2013, 12:17:15 AM
I do something similar, but simpler.  I push a piece of tubing long enough to reach the bottom of a bottle in a #2 one hole stopper.  Put the top end of the tubing in a tap and seat the stopper in a bottle.  Open the tap.  The bottle will fill about 1/3 f the way before pressure builds up and the flow stops.  At that point, use your thumb to very slightly crack the stopper.  The flow will begin again and you can control; the flow rate with your thumb on the stopper.  When the bottle is full, seat the stopper and close the tap.  I get virtually no foam doing it this way.

This sounds great. Does the beer stay carbonated In the bottle?
Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: Joe Sr. on January 07, 2013, 02:52:00 PM
I do something similar, but simpler.  I push a piece of tubing long enough to reach the bottom of a bottle in a #2 one hole stopper.  Put the top end of the tubing in a tap and seat the stopper in a bottle.  Open the tap.  The bottle will fill about 1/3 f the way before pressure builds up and the flow stops.  At that point, use your thumb to very slightly crack the stopper.  The flow will begin again and you can control; the flow rate with your thumb on the stopper.  When the bottle is full, seat the stopper and close the tap.  I get virtually no foam doing it this way.

This is exactly what I do, but I have a piece of an old racking cane that I jam into the cobra tap.  Fits perfectly.

This sounds great. Does the beer stay carbonated In the bottle?

Yes.  The beer stays carbed.  Depending on how much foaming you get, you may lose some carbonation during bottling.  You can overcarb slightly to compensate.

You could also get some oxygenation that may stale the beers if you are going for long term storage.  This is why I use the oxy caps.  I've also thought about adding some small amount of priming sugar, but that just seems like a PITA.
Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: anje on January 07, 2013, 05:54:53 PM
I think the vinator, in combination with a bottle tree, is the easiest and fastest way to sanitize a run of bottles. 

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/vinator-bottle-rinser.html
+1  The vinator is so much better than soaking/dunking the bottles. Mine doesn't fit on my bottle tree, but I consider that secondary.

I also spritz the tree down with Starsan as a precaution.
Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: The Professor on January 07, 2013, 07:31:52 PM
I bottled several cases over the holidays using a piece of racking cane and a stopper.  Worked great and actually got me thinking I should bottle more.  I used oxy caps for a little extra insurance.

Definitely the bottle tree makes this process easier...

+1 on all counts.   I've been doing the racking cane/stopper thing to fill bottles from the keg for 2 decades (even for beers intended to cellar in the bottle for 2 years) and it's all you really need...

Very interested in this "don't have to buy a $70 counter pressure filler" method. Does it really work? How's it work? I get everything has to be cold, but the racking cane. Do you open the keg and put the racking cane in the keg? Or are you pushing out beer using CO2 but using the racking cane to fill bottles? Will they hold on to their carbonation for extended periods of time?

No need to open the keg. I'm pushing the beer out with co2.  My method lately is pretty much the same as what Denny describes (I forgot to mention the stopper which, as Denny points out, actually serves as  primitive kind of counter-pressure device).

And  yes, the beer stays well carbonated over time:  I've kept Burton/Old Ale and Scotch Ales bottled this way for years will no ill effects.
Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: Gribble on January 08, 2013, 04:51:27 AM
I think if you wanted to make the cheap version of a beer gun is to take a bottle wand and attach it to your liquid side of the keg, basically a beer gun set up.  Keeping your bottles cold before bottling helps reduce foaming as well.  I keep the sanitized cases in my keg freezer before i bottle, when there's room ;)
Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: euge on January 08, 2013, 01:46:46 PM
I also use Denny's "Cheap and Easy" method. I still have beer bottled 4 years ago that is carbonated and non-oxidized. Loss of carbonation- that would be a separate issue regardless.

Turn down the keg psi to next to nothing and turn on as needed to keep the beer flowing. Burp the stopper occasionally. My advice is to buy a pre-drilled stopper as drilling a solid one out is a real PITA and hard to get right.
Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: kylekohlmorgen on January 09, 2013, 02:14:52 PM
Great comparison of a CP filler vs. Beer Gun:

http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2013/01/beer-gun-and-counter-pressure-filler.html

Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: yso191 on January 09, 2013, 05:31:44 PM
Great comparison of a CP filler vs. Beer Gun:

http://www.themadfermentationist.com/2013/01/beer-gun-and-counter-pressure-filler.html

Thanks!  That was good... but now I am even more split-minded as to which one, or neither.  Obviously so much easier when there is clearly a 'best practice.'

Steve
Title: Re: best bottling equipment
Post by: AmandaK on January 09, 2013, 06:29:58 PM
I think the vinator, in combination with a bottle tree, is the easiest and fastest way to sanitize a run of bottles. 

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/vinator-bottle-rinser.html
+1  The vinator is so much better than soaking/dunking the bottles. Mine doesn't fit on my bottle tree, but I consider that secondary.

I also spritz the tree down with Starsan as a precaution.

I'm a tree spritzer too!