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General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: erockrph on August 17, 2014, 02:11:43 PM

Title: Bottling under pressure from a gallon jug
Post by: erockrph on August 17, 2014, 02:11:43 PM
I brew a lot of 1-gallon batches of beer, but the real PITA is bottling. It is possible to do it with one person using an autosiphon, but it's not easy and I always end up making a mess in the process.

My thought is to use a 2-hole stopper to bottle under CO2 pressure. In one hole I'd jam a racking cane and set it to just over the level of trub, then attach some tubing and a bottling wand to it. In the other hole I'd stick a small piece of tubing with a male MFL screw on the end. Then I'd hook up a CO2 tank at a few PSI and start bottling. Sort of like using a carboy cap for racking, just at a smaller size.

My dilemma seems to be finding a food-grade 2-hole stopper that fits my gallon jugs (i.e., size #6). I can find non food-grade rubber stoppers, but I'd really like to avoid that. I have seen a couple of places selling gum rubber 2-hole stoppers, but I'd have to buy like 60-90 dollars worth.

I'm thinking I might have to drill my own from a solid stopper. But I don't have access to a drill press, and I'm not sure about doing this by hand without ripping it to shreds.

So that's my story. Anyone have any constructive feedback? Sources for stoppers? Tips on bottling under pressure, drilling stoppers, am I crazy for wanting food-grade stoppers, etc.?

Title: Re: Bottling under pressure from a gallon jug
Post by: troybinso on August 17, 2014, 02:18:34 PM
This is a #6.5 stopper with two holes from morebeer. Not sure if it will work. Couldn't you drill out your own stopper?

http://morebeer.com/products/stopper-65-drilled-1-38-hole-14.html?site_id=9
Title: Re: Bottling under pressure from a gallon jug
Post by: erockrph on August 17, 2014, 02:30:45 PM
This is a #6.5 stopper with two holes from morebeer. Not sure if it will work. Couldn't you drill out your own stopper?

http://morebeer.com/products/stopper-65-drilled-1-38-hole-14.html?site_id=9

The stoppers I have always feel like they'd crumble pretty easily, but maybe I'm overthinking it. Worst case scenario, I could probably buy this one from MoreBeer and shave it down a bit.
Title: Re: Bottling under pressure from a gallon jug
Post by: Stevie on August 17, 2014, 02:39:32 PM
From what I have read, the holes are punched, not drilled. A sharpened copper tube should work well.
Title: Re: Bottling under pressure from a gallon jug
Post by: archstanton on August 17, 2014, 03:38:16 PM
I have 4 one gallon glass jugs that I use for experimenting. I do not find any difference filling from them or a 5 gallon bucket. I have always done it alone. It seems your issue is the siphon part as you want to use co2 pressure instead. My question would be what exactly makes it harder and why is it messy? I just think there is an easier solution.  If I started over, I would get 1 and 2 gallon plastic buckets and put spigots on them, but I already have the glass and my complaint is cleaning them not from filling.

I also believe the stoppers are punched and not drilled.
Title: Re: Bottling under pressure from a gallon jug
Post by: erockrph on August 17, 2014, 04:28:05 PM
I have 4 one gallon glass jugs that I use for experimenting. I do not find any difference filling from them or a 5 gallon bucket. I have always done it alone. It seems your issue is the siphon part as you want to use co2 pressure instead. My question would be what exactly makes it harder and why is it messy? I just think there is an easier solution.  If I started over, I would get 1 and 2 gallon plastic buckets and put spigots on them, but I already have the glass and my complaint is cleaning them not from filling.

I also believe the stoppers are punched and not drilled.

For my larger batches I rack to a bottling bucket first. For 1-gallon batches I bottle right out of the jug and prime the bottles individually. The biggest issue for me is getting a siphon started through a bottling wand. You have to keep pressure on the tip of the bottling wand and keep it low enough so the siphon will keep running, all while pumping the autosiphon. This leads to such ridiculousness as me pressing the wand down with my feet, or pumping the siphon with my mouth, or other ridiculous contortions.

I'll freely admit that I'm not the most coordinated person in the world, so something always seems to get knocked or kicked over. Plus, I'm usually bottling 3 or 4 one-gallon batches at a time, so that just multiplies the opportunities for "oopsies". I'm just looking for something to help me power through the bottling step.
Title: Re: Bottling under pressure from a gallon jug
Post by: reverseapachemaster on August 17, 2014, 04:43:11 PM
Are you using a full size autosiphon or the smaller ones designed for one gallon jugs?

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/mini-auto-siphon-3-8.html

Smaller one is definitely easier to work with.

I don't go directly from jug to bottle though. I drilled a two gallon bucket as a bottling bucket and rack into the bucket first.
Title: Re: Bottling under pressure from a gallon jug
Post by: Stevie on August 17, 2014, 05:06:33 PM
Like Eric, I have been trying to avoid the extra step of the bottling bucket. It might be he best solution if operating solo.
Title: Re: Bottling under pressure from a gallon jug
Post by: erockrph on August 17, 2014, 05:40:20 PM
Are you using a full size autosiphon or the smaller ones designed for one gallon jugs?

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/mini-auto-siphon-3-8.html

Smaller one is definitely easier to work with.

I don't go directly from jug to bottle though. I drilled a two gallon bucket as a bottling bucket and rack into the bucket first.
Smaller one, with one of the autosiphon clips so I can set it to the proper level without having to hold it in place by hand.

The issue with the bottling bucket is that I am usually doing a few different batches at a time (in the short window of time between when my son goes to bed and when my wife gets home from work). So that's one more thing to rinse/sanitize in between batches. By using CO2 pressure, I'm hoping to just mow through a bunch of these quickly.
Title: Re: Bottling under pressure from a gallon jug
Post by: piszkiewiczp on August 17, 2014, 05:50:43 PM
Instead of drilling holes in the stoppers, use one of these borers designed for the task.
http://www.sciplus.com/p/CORK-BORER_3954
These should be available through any lab supply store, but I just love the randomness of this place.
Title: Re: Bottling under pressure from a gallon jug
Post by: archstanton on August 17, 2014, 07:45:11 PM
I have 4 one gallon glass jugs that I use for experimenting. I do not find any difference filling from them or a 5 gallon bucket. I have always done it alone. It seems your issue is the siphon part as you want to use co2 pressure instead. My question would be what exactly makes it harder and why is it messy? I just think there is an easier solution.  If I started over, I would get 1 and 2 gallon plastic buckets and put spigots on them, but I already have the glass and my complaint is cleaning them not from filling.

I also believe the stoppers are punched and not drilled.

For my larger batches I rack to a bottling bucket first. For 1-gallon batches I bottle right out of the jug and prime the bottles individually. The biggest issue for me is getting a siphon started through a bottling wand. You have to keep pressure on the tip of the bottling wand and keep it low enough so the siphon will keep running, all while pumping the autosiphon. This leads to such ridiculousness as me pressing the wand down with my feet, or pumping the siphon with my mouth, or other ridiculous contortions.

I'll freely admit that I'm not the most coordinated person in the world, so something always seems to get knocked or kicked over. Plus, I'm usually bottling 3 or 4 one-gallon batches at a time, so that just multiplies the opportunities for "oopsies". I'm just looking for something to help me power through the bottling step.

Oh okay, I have never racked to a bottling bucket, never saw the benefit. What I do is compress the wand spring and hold it on the first bottle with some masking tape. Then start the siphon and undo the tape and continue filling as normal. I also made a bottle holder out of scrap wood with a hole saw and I can fill several without the worry of knocking any over.  I start with a bomber if I am filling any bombers that way the tape doesn't contact anything that will go into a bottle. Play around with that using water, I think you might like it. 

I worry about the pressure needed  to push the beer might be enough to push out the stopper, but maybe I  am wrong on that.
Title: Re: Bottling under pressure from a gallon jug
Post by: erockrph on August 18, 2014, 08:03:39 PM
Oh okay, I have never racked to a bottling bucket, never saw the benefit. What I do is compress the wand spring and hold it on the first bottle with some masking tape. Then start the siphon and undo the tape and continue filling as normal. I also made a bottle holder out of scrap wood with a hole saw and I can fill several without the worry of knocking any over.  I start with a bomber if I am filling any bombers that way the tape doesn't contact anything that will go into a bottle. Play around with that using water, I think you might like it. 

I worry about the pressure needed  to push the beer might be enough to push out the stopper, but maybe I  am wrong on that.

That's a good point about the pressure unseating the stopper. If I go this route I may be better off using a growler filler instead of a bottling wand and turning off the CO2 between bottles. I do like your ideas, though. I'll have to give this a try next time. Thanks!
Title: Re: Bottling under pressure from a gallon jug
Post by: kylekohlmorgen on August 20, 2014, 02:52:54 PM
Are you using a full size autosiphon or the smaller ones designed for one gallon jugs?

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/mini-auto-siphon-3-8.html

Smaller one is definitely easier to work with.

I don't go directly from jug to bottle though. I drilled a two gallon bucket as a bottling bucket and rack into the bucket first.
Smaller one, with one of the autosiphon clips so I can set it to the proper level without having to hold it in place by hand.

The issue with the bottling bucket is that I am usually doing a few different batches at a time (in the short window of time between when my son goes to bed and when my wife gets home from work). So that's one more thing to rinse/sanitize in between batches. By using CO2 pressure, I'm hoping to just mow through a bunch of these quickly.

Unless you're going back and forth between clean/mixed ferment beers, I wouldn't worry about washing and re-sanitizing bottling equip. between batches. If you carried over trub, or are going from a dark to light beer, just rinse with some clean, chlorine-free water and keep going. A big bottle of water would be sufficient.

Its a rough trade off at such a low volume, but if you bottle from your primary, you'll end up with a lot of trub in the bottles, plus its much more difficult to prime consistently.

Title: Re: Bottling under pressure from a gallon jug
Post by: erockrph on August 20, 2014, 03:02:16 PM
Are you using a full size autosiphon or the smaller ones designed for one gallon jugs?

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/mini-auto-siphon-3-8.html

Smaller one is definitely easier to work with.

I don't go directly from jug to bottle though. I drilled a two gallon bucket as a bottling bucket and rack into the bucket first.
Smaller one, with one of the autosiphon clips so I can set it to the proper level without having to hold it in place by hand.

The issue with the bottling bucket is that I am usually doing a few different batches at a time (in the short window of time between when my son goes to bed and when my wife gets home from work). So that's one more thing to rinse/sanitize in between batches. By using CO2 pressure, I'm hoping to just mow through a bunch of these quickly.

Unless you're going back and forth between clean/mixed ferment beers, I wouldn't worry about washing and re-sanitizing bottling equip. between batches. If you carried over trub, or are going from a dark to light beer, just rinse with some clean, chlorine-free water and keep going. A big bottle of water would be sufficient.

Its a rough trade off at such a low volume, but if you bottle from your primary, you'll end up with a lot of trub in the bottles, plus its much more difficult to prime consistently.
These are generally just test batches, so I'm not worried about a little extra trub in the bottle. Coopers carb drops have yet to do me wrong for priming. And if you're going to rinse with water, you might as well just use Star San instead AFAIC.
Title: Re: Bottling under pressure from a gallon jug
Post by: kylekohlmorgen on August 20, 2014, 04:28:44 PM
...And if you're going to rinse with water, you might as well just use Star San instead AFAIC...

Or neither  :D
Title: Re: Bottling under pressure from a gallon jug
Post by: Joe Sr. on August 20, 2014, 05:14:47 PM
I also made a bottle holder out of scrap wood with a hole saw and I can fill several without the worry of knocking any over.

Nice.  I like that idea.

As far as pressurizing the container, I've found that my aquarium pump aerator works pretty well.

I often use CO2 but even at very low pressure it seems to push out the punt on the bottom of my Better Bottles.