Bottling Off the Keg, Part 2

Posted on 11.15.10 9:50PM under Bottling, Kegging

Bottling off a keg is easy.

When I had picnic taps, it was easy. I had a length of tube that fit onto the end of the plastic faucet, and went to the bottom of my selected bottle, and all I had to do was let most of the pressure out of the keg, squeeze the tube onto the end of the faucet, stick the tube into the sanitized bottle, and pull the dispense lever. Fill it up, and cap it, and good to go.

But when I got actual faucets hooked up, the old tube was too small to fit over the faucet. It fit inside, but that leaked too much to use. So I bottled up a bunch just pouring it into a bottle, like they fill the growlers at John Harvard’s last I knew.

Unfortunately, what I found was that after just a few days, there was a distinct flavor change in that bottled beer that I could only assume is the flavor of oxidation. Not the typical cardboard flavor they describe, but more of an almost sweetish, even rusty, flavor. It was the rust link that made me believe it could be oxygen infection, given that rust is oxidation of metal. That and I treated some beer really rough, introducing an inordinate amount of O2 via aggressive pouring from fermenter to bottle, and it also had the same sort of flavor layer.

I measured the faucet and found that a 5/8″ tube would fit over the faucet snugly, and should be a good bottling accessory.

Finally today I made it to Lowe’s to get my 5/8″ ID vinyl tubing for bottling off the faucet. Just $0.51 and I was good to go. I bottled a few Montrachets (Mon-tra-shayz). For the first one I turned down the pressure on the keg. It went nice and slow. In fact, too slow. There was so little foaming activity that there ended up to be too much head space. So I tried a different low pressure method, pulling the tube out of the bottle as I filled. But still it left maybe a little too much head space, and no foam to cap onto. Oxygen infection nervousness set in.

So I decided why not see if it would work at full dispense pressure. And it did! The 5/8″ ID tube has a 3/4″ OD which seems to pretty effectively seal off the mouth of a beer bottle. The result is that the inside of the bottle quickly pressurizes, and then it leaks from around the tube just enough to maintain that pressure while filling, resulting in a perfectly calm fill, even at full 12 PSI dispense pressure.

So now I can fill whatever I want whenever I want, all I have to do is sanitize the bottle and fill it from the tap. No more messing with the dispense pressure. Piece of cake!

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