Beer Gun!

Posted on 01.07.09 10:52PM under Bottling, Kegging

Since I’ve been kegging, I’ve been trying to get bottled beer out of my kegs. Bottling off the cobra tap is unreliable. Often I would lose a pint and get two bottles, and the two bottles weren’t even full. It was simple to setup the cobra filling station, but my results were poor.

So I bought a Blichmann Beer Gun.

The Beer Gun requires an adapter to get from a ¼” pipe thread (NPT) female thread to a gas line. I have ¼” female flare barbed connectors on my gas lines (the barbs hold the tubes to the flare fittings). So I needed a ¼” NPT to ¼” flare adapter. Rather than get the accessory kit which also came with a QD and some tubes and stuff, I decided I’d just get the one piece I needed.

no-check-valveThe online shop I purchased from had a check valve that would make that connection and I bought it with the gun.

Unfortunately, the check valve allows flow in the wrong direction for this application. In retrospect, it should be obvious that the check valve would allow flow from the NPT to the flare, as it’s intended to connect to the NPT female outlet of a regulator and allow gas from the regulator to the beer, but disallow liquid from the beer into the regulator.  Unfortunately, the beer gun requires flow from the flare side to the NPT side.

So I had this shiny new beer gun but no way to get gas to it. I started digging around the bag of spare parts that came with my used kegging stuff.

leaky-adapterIn this box of randomness, I found a ¼” NPT “plug”, which actually has a ¼” NPT male end and then a funky shaped end, but it allows gas to flow through it, so I’m not sure why they call it a plug. Anyway. In there I also managed to find a small threaded thing that sort of fit the female flare fitting, so I crammed some tube on it, connected the other end of the tube to the “plug”, and applied plenty of Teflon tape to the pseudo flare and gave it a go.

As soon as I got the gas turned on, it was hissing like a Madagascar Cockroach. But it held enough pressure to enable me to use the beer gun. I bottled a few bottles of IPA, with less than an ounce of loss, and a good consistent headspace with very little foaming. Success!

But I was not satisfied with the leaky gas connection. I needed something better. Sure, I could just go buy the correct adapter at the LHBS, but not right at that moment. So right in that moment, I decided to invent my own adapter.

qd-adapterIt turns out that the top of a ball lock quick disconnect (QD) comes right off very easily just by screwing it off. I guess that’s why it has that little notch in it. This will make cleaning the QDs a lot more effective in the future. In there is a spring and the post that engages with the actual ball lock post poppet to allow gas or liquid to pass through the QD into or out of your connected tubing.

The ball lock quick disconnect also has a male flare fitting on it for connecting to the gas line. Things were coming together.

I took that top piece off the QD, and crammed a tube onto the so-called plug. This tube perfectly squeezed into the ball lock QD where it was now open. Leaving the spring and post in there, the spring perfectly engaged with the plug. The tube was long enough to jam in there, but not so long that it blocked the outlet. I tested it with this dry fit, and the air from my oral exertion would pass both ways through this new device. Then I cemented the deal with a ring of Loctite super glue, and pressed it together with a C-clamp for good measure.

Now I have a homemade NPT-flare converter, and I can make good use of my beer gun until I make it to the LHBS to get the proper adapter.

Read Comments

  1. Posted by E.S. Delia on 01.08.09 11:24 AM

    Uh-oh, Keith with a beer gun. I can see the headlines now…

    “Connecticut Man Goes On Bottle-filling Rampage”

  2. Posted by Keith Brainard on 01.08.09 8:09 PM

    And may I add that the results are spectacular! I bottled my stout last night, and tonight upon opening the swing top, I got a proud POP and the pour provided a perfect pint with a nice long-lasting head. I think it seems to somehow taste better than it does straight off the tap, too! Hmm maybe psychosomatic, or maybe just psycho…