How to Bottle Your Homebrew From a Keg
Many home brewers these days are using Cornelius, or soda kegs, for more than just serving beer. Cornelius kegs also make for great secondary or tertiary fermenters. By using a few custom fixtures on your Cornelius keg, you can use it as a fermenter, and bottle right from the keg spigot, which is much easier than using a racking cane and hose.
|Bottling Home Brew From a Keg
Bottling home brew from a keg greatly speed up the bottling process, but one modification that can help when using Cornelius kegs as secondary or tertiary fermenters is cutting ½ to ¾ of an inch off of the liquid dip tube.
With the help of a beer gun, you can even carbonate your beer in the keg, and then fill it, all ready carbonated, into bottles. In this article we will look at the different aspects of bottling your home brew from a keg.
One aspect of owning and maintaining your Cornelius keg is checking the seals. If any of your O-rings leaks, it can spell the doom of contamination for your beer. By spraying or lopping a foamy liquid (like soapy water or windex) onto your keg while it is pressurized, you can detect leaks quite easily – just look for the bubbling. If you do have some leaks, it is time to recondition your keg and replace the O-rings. See my article on rebuilding a Used Soda Keg for more information on this. I would recommend checking the keg every time before you fill it with beer.
Whether conditioning your beer in the keg or in bottles, it is a good idea to add another helping of living yeast to your beer before the carbonation process begins. This will ensure that your beer is robustly carbonated in good time. I recommend adding fresh yeast to your beer, stirring the beer up, and then letting it settle for about 15 minutes before bottling begins. The yeast will act quickly on your carbonation process, and your beer should be ready within two to three days instead of the two weeks it normally takes to carbonate bottle conditioned beer.
When carbonating in the keg, and then bottling the already carbonated beer, you definitely need some help if you are to avoid a foamy mess. To avoid the foam, you must understand that foam is caused by a sudden change in pressure. A good beer gun gets around this obstacle by using a subtle change in pressure – a gradual reduction in pressure from the keg to open air. A good beer gun keeps the beer line a straight shot, without bends in the flow. This allows you to fill bottles with already carbonated beer, eliminating the step of adding priming sugar to each individual bottle – a time consuming and sometimes dangerous process (if you put too much in, it can cause the bottle to explode).
By using a beer gun, you can choose to carbonate your beer naturally, in the keg, or with priming sugar, or you can force carbonate your beer for an expedient carbonation process. A good quality beer gun will cost you around $70 and should come with a purge button (this shoots some CO2 into the beer bottle to purge it of air before filling). You will need some sort of keg system, including a CO2 tank with an extra hose barb, in order to use the beer gun.
If you want to carbonate your beer naturally, or bottle condition it, you can still use your home brew keg system to do so. You may need a slightly longer liquid out spigot hose - eight to ten feet long is a useful length for bottling five gallons.
Bottling home brew from a keg greatly speed up the bottling process, but one modification that can help when using Cornelius kegs as secondary or tertiary fermenters is cutting ½ to ¾ of an inch off of the liquid dip tube. This will help you to avoid pushing sediment through your spigot and ensure a clearer beer results.
Homebrew Kegging - Tips why homebrew kegging allows greater ease than bottling, is a savings of time, and why homebrew kegs often condition your ales better than bottles do.
Beer Kegging Tutorial - A Tutorial About Kegging Your Own Beer and How It Is An Effective Way to Store and Serve Home Brew.
Published: August 19, 2010
For additional information on home brewing or homebrew topics please visit our home brewing article center.