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How to bottle beer from the keg

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Once a brewer begins kegging, he/she will never go back to bottling, or will they? There is something to be said for the convenience of bottled beer. It travels well, it can be given as a gift and it is the only way to get it to a competition. How do we get that sweet carbonated nectar into the bottles?

There are commercial CO2 bottling wands, guns, beer guns… but they are entirely too expensive and unnecessary to accomplish this simple task. There is no need to spend $50, $60, or $100 dollars to fill a bottle with beer effectively. Here is how:

  1. You will need a 7′+ beer line with a picnic tap on the end Fig. 1
  2. You will need a plastic bottling wand OR racking cane (this will fit into the picnic tap) Fig. 2
  3. You will need a #2 drilled rubber stopper Fig. 3

beer picnic tap
Fig 1.

beer bottling wand racking cane
Fig 2.

drilled #2 stopper

Fig 3.

Assemble these components in this manner:

  1. Cut a 45 degree angle on one end of the bottling wand/racking cane to allow the free flow of beer into the bottle
  2. Slide the uncut end of the bottling wand/racking cane into the picnic tap
  3. Slide the #2 stopper up onto the bottling wand/racking cane (this will seal the bottle while filling)
  4. Attach the beer line to the keg itself.

See Fig 4.

assembling bottling apparatus
Fig 4.

You are now ready to bottle beer, and there are some simple rules and procedures to follow to be successful.

  1. Be sure that your beer line and bottles are cold, this will reduce foaming during bottling.
  2. Shut off the gas to your keg, use the pressure relief valve to relieve excess pressure.
  3. Turn your regulator down to 3-5 PSI and turn the gas back on to the keg, this will give you a gentle flow rate to reduce foaming.
  4. Open the tap and run a small amount of beer out as waste, this will prime the bottle filler.
  5. Place the bottle filler in the bottle and seal the bottle with the rubber stopper. Fig. 5
  6. Open the picnic tap to LOCKED position, and as the flow slows due to pressure, squeeze the side of the stopper to relieve the pressure and fill bottle until beer flows out the top, not just foam.
  7. Move to next bottle and repeat.
  8. When finished, give all bottles a quick shot of beer to top them off (place the tip of the bottling wand about 1” below the level of the beer in the bottle and secure the stopper when accomplishing this step)
  9. Place caps on all bottles.
  10. One at a time, tip each bottle on its side and upright again while holding the cap on. When the beer foams over, lock the cap on, repeat with all bottles (purging CO2). Fig. 6

bottling beer from keg
Fig 5.

capping beer bottle
Fig 6.

Remember when you are finished bottling, to again increase your regulator pressure to maintain the proper level of carbonation in your keg. Happy bottling!

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  1. 4 Responses to “How to bottle beer from the keg”

  2. Do you find that this traps oxygen into the bottle? I understand that the foam would push it out, but with the stopper on there, where does it go? I would guess this would be a problem. Have you thought of splitting the gas line, removing the stopper and adding a CO2 line alongside the filler? Just a thought…

    Great website! A regular read for me!

    Thanks.
    Jess

    By Jess on Dec 14, 2010

  3. Just re-read and saw the part of squeezing the stopper. But the oxygen is still a question…

    By Jess on Dec 14, 2010

  4. Hi Jess,
    Yes, there would be a tiny bit of O2 left behind in the head space of the bottle. That is true of standard home brew bottling practices.

    A way around this would be to pre-fill the bottles with CO2, effectively purging the oxygen. The other option would be to buy one of the expensive gizmos from the home brew store that accomplish the same thing.

    Personally I use oxycaps and have not had oxidation problems since. If you are only going to leave it in the bottle for a few weeks, I would not worry.

    By Larry on Dec 21, 2010

  5. By the way on the 02, if the beer has enough CO2, the foam will keep flowing under the cap which should effectively purge that tiny bit of O2 that the cup of the cap would hold, and with oxycaps that amount is really nothing. Sure beats waiting 2weeks and praying the sugar gave you the right amount of CO2 and then waiting longer for the yeast to condition out the byproducts of the priming ferment. Its almost like making the beer twice.

    By Paithen Larkins on Sep 1, 2012

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