Sunday, September 11, 2011

Beer Gun

I've done 7 blog posts in GABF month, and only one of them has been about beer or brewing. Shameful. Anyone coming from the Complete List of Beer Blogs will wonder why the hell this is listed as a beer blog. I guess Root Beer and Pretzels mentions BYO magazine. Does that count?

But don't worry, beer lovers. Today's entry does have to do with beer.

I used my Blichman Beer Gun for the first time yesterday. The beer gun is SheppyBrew's newest toy. In case you do not know, the beer gun is designed to transfer kegged beer to bottles. I probably should have tried a less-expensive home-made method, but I decided to treat myself to this extravagance. Since I have never bottled from a keg before, I cannot comment on advantages over other methods. But the beer gun is pretty slick.

I filled 15 bottles with my world famous Phat & Tyred Amber Ale. It went pretty well. As with everything in brewing, there are quite a few process things I can improve on to make things go a bit smoother next time, but I am pretty happy with the way it went.

I started out several days ago by increasing the CO2 pressure on the keg to slightly over-carbonate the beer. The hope is that any carbonation that comes out of solution during the transfer is compensated for with the higher carbonation.

The first step on bottling day was to disassemble the gun, and clean then sanitize the parts. The gun came with a cool brush that fit inside the cylindrical barrels to help clean.

After reassembling the gun (very simple .. It is a simple, elegant design), I cleaned and sanitized the bottles, covering each one with foil. I put the bottles and the gun into the freezer for 20 minutes or so to get all the parts closer to the temp of the beer. This was to prevent too much foaming.

Beer Gun disassembled
Beer Gun reassembled
Cooling everything in the freezer

So, the beer gun connects to the keg with a standard ball-lock and tubing. It also connects to the CO2 tank. Obviously, to get this to work, you need some sort of splitter on the gas since the keg still needs to be pressurized as well. The reason the gun is connected to the CO2 is that there is a button you can press which releases gas into through the gun. This is to purge oxygen from the bottles before filling with beer.

Not much of a picture. Sorry.
So, on each bottle, I shot in CO2 for a few seconds. Then, I simply pulled the beer trigger and let the bottle fill up. I found the best pressure to get a good flow but not too much foam was 2 psi. Results probably vary, but it is easy to figure out with a bit of experimentation. You do want a little bit of foam so you can cap on the foam. This helps keep oxygen out.

I under-filled some of the bottles, but I think that is just me being inexperienced. Note, you do want to fill the bottles in something that the can over-flow into. It probably gets messy if you don't do that.

There are a couple of things I can do better next time. First, I think I need to cool the bottles longer. Actually, I cooled them with sanitizer in them which kept them warm. So, cooling without the sanitizer will probably be the way to go. I also probably want a container ready to go to hold the filled bottles as I cap each one.

I am pleased with the whole process. It is about time that I can bottle from my keg. I need to try one of the bottles today to see how the resulting drink is.

Pretty cool.

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