Author Topic: Getting proper carbonation when bottling from Blichman Beer Gun  (Read 2222 times)

Offline benamcg

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Getting proper carbonation when bottling from Blichman Beer Gun
« on: February 08, 2011, 07:37:32 PM »
I just got back some results from a competition that stated my beers were slightly under-carbonated for the style. This was the first time I sent bottles to a competition that I bottled with my Blichman Beer Gun. 

I have never worried 1) about carbonation in kegs (obviously just turn up or vent) or 2) in competitions (usually got bottle condition half the batch).  However, I would rather use my Beer Gun and would like to know what I could do to hit achieved carbonation levels.  I carbonate in kegs using beer charts, have the advantage of cold (36 degrees) and time before bottling. 

I believe that it may do with the process of filling- but I (believe that I have followed the instructions to a tee.  I chill bottles, dispense aroung 3-5 PSI, and cap immediately.  I think that somewhere in the dispensing/filling process I must be doing something wrong.

I believe that this requires a gas physics style answer and not necessarily a brewing technique issue.  In both beers I had either 50% wheat (a wit) or 5-10% Flaked Barley which should if any thing, help with head retention.
 
Any help would be appreciated.

Offline jwaldner

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Re: Getting proper carbonation when bottling from Blichman Beer Gun
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2011, 09:14:26 PM »
I don't have any recommendations but can also confirm I have received this feedback from both competitions and friends.  I also believe I have followed the instructions to a tee and my beer seems carbonated to style in the keg. 

I love the ease of use from the beer gun especially after trying to do it on the cheap but am more confident about my bottle conditioning than the use of the beer gun at this point.

Cheers

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Getting proper carbonation when bottling from Blichman Beer Gun
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2011, 10:01:09 PM »
I always slightly overcarbonate my beers when I plan to bottle them, to account for losses in bottling with my beer gun.  Because there will be losses, there's no getting around it.  It's been a while since I've bothered bottling/entering anything, but IIRC I just dropped the temp a few degrees before and kept the pressure the same to increase the amount of CO2 dissolved in the beer.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline maxieboy

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Re: Getting proper carbonation when bottling from Blichman Beer Gun
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2011, 07:36:30 AM »
+1 on the slight overcarbonation.
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Offline tumarkin

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Re: Getting proper carbonation when bottling from Blichman Beer Gun
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2011, 07:38:43 AM »
getting your bottles really cold first will also help. put them in the freezer for a bit before you start bottling.
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Offline beersk

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Re: Getting proper carbonation when bottling from Blichman Beer Gun
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2011, 10:13:26 AM »
getting your bottles really cold first will also help. put them in the freezer for a bit before you start bottling.

This is  what I do.  Sanitize the bottles, cover the mouth with foil, put in the freezer for a bit, and bottle.  I do the el cheapo method with a bottle wand and picnic tap.  Just bleed the keg of the pressure, turn the PSI down to about 2 or 3, fill, and cap on foam.  I try to only leave about an inch of space in the bottle before capping to limit the amount of O2 that might be in there.  Seems to work pretty well.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Getting proper carbonation when bottling from Blichman Beer Gun
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2011, 10:20:02 AM »
As others have said, I also overcarbonate (slight) and chill my bottles to allow for process losses. You may have to tweak your process to account for some CO2 loss. I really like my Blichmann Beer Gun as it makes the process more practical and also allows me to purge the bottles before filling.
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Offline ajk

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Re: Getting proper carbonation when bottling from Blichman Beer Gun
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2011, 10:39:40 AM »
I haven't had issues with undercarbonated beer, but I pre-chill my bottles and set my dispensing pressure low, as low as I can tolerate, so beer doesn't rush into the bottle and cause CO2 to come out of solution.  It takes me a good 8 or 10 seconds (that's longer than it seems) to fill a bottle, not counting the time it takes to cap it.

Offline johnf

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Re: Getting proper carbonation when bottling from Blichman Beer Gun
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2011, 10:43:10 AM »
If carbonation is leaving the beer during bottling it is visible as foam. My goal is a somewhat high fill and capping on foam. I often can fill with so little foaming I have to tap the bottle to cap on foam. Since I am planning to lose some, I do overcarbonate a smidge. How much is a smidge? A smidge, it ain't rocket science.

Note that I can sometimes get so little foam that I can cap on beer. I think this is awesome but most judges can't figure out how I did it and assume the beer is bad so that their world-view is not threatened.

Tips:

1. Beer cold.
2. Bottle cold and wet (not frozen).
3. As much of the beer line as possible cold (inside the freezer/fridge). You'll notice between bottles that co2 starts leaving solution in the line that is exposed to warmer air.
4. Go fast to minimize the phenomenon in 3. I mean fast in terms of time between bottles, not flow rate. It helps to have a second person to cap.
5. If you are getting more foam than is required to fill the head space with a slightly high fill, turn the pressure down and go with a slower fill. If you are getting less foam than required to fill the headspace, feel free to go a little faster on the fill.

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Getting proper carbonation when bottling from Blichman Beer Gun
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2011, 11:37:05 AM »
Note that I can sometimes get so little foam that I can cap on beer. I think this is awesome but most judges can't figure out how I did it and assume the beer is bad so that their world-view is not threatened.
IME you should always leave "proper" headspace for competition beers, you don't want the judges starting off with the preconceived notion that there is something wrong with your beer.  Not all judges will do that, but enough that it's not worth it.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline abraxas

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Re: Getting proper carbonation when bottling from Blichman Beer Gun
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2011, 10:41:00 AM »
I have just bottled up a few partial batched with my beer gun and all been undercarbonated in the bottles while they were properly carbed in the kegs.  This is a little disappointing, I am going to try to add a little priming sugar and yeast to a few to see if I can save them.

Actually last night I was messing around with a cobra tap, rubber stopper and racking cane and my results were promising (though no CO2 purge).  I am going to try a side by side to see if it is any better and test stability.