When I first started kegging, it took at least a month for the coolness factor of home draft beer to wear off (some). But it really didn’t take long to realize the despite the ease of cleaning one keg versus 50 bottles, I was getting a backlog of beer. When you start kegging your beer, you tend to find that you are almost the only one drinking it. Mainly because it’s hard to transport a full keg of beer and CO2 to push the beer as well. That’s where learning to bottle beer from the keg is a life saver.
Bottling beer from the keg puts your beer back in the social circles of beer drinkers where it belongs. Beer is a social beverage and while it is great to pull up a chair and listen to the baseball game in the garage, the novelty of that environment wears off pretty quick.
In short, the objective with bottling beer from the keg is to minimize the amount of foam as it goes in the bottle. Foaming in the bottle equals lost carbonation in the finished product. Now for competition purposes, just to be safe, you may want to slightly over-carbonate the beer before you bottle it. To do this, I’d just advise cranking up the CO2 by about 3-5 PSI a few days before you plan to bottle. In competition, you’ll get a harder ding for undercarbed beer than over carbed beer. Judges can always swirl the carbonation out of a beer in the glass or let it sit for a few minutes. Heck, in a double IPA a little extra carbonation can really help carry some aromas out of the glas,s too.
Anyhow, in the video I present my ultra-cheap method for getting beer into bottles. I know there is cooler and pricey ways to do it. However, I have never experienced an judging score sheet that came back and said my beer was undercarbed, overcarbed or even the dreadful oxidized!
So, crank your dispensing pressure way down – just enough to get the beer to flow and away you go. Check the video for details.
Filling from a Keg:
- Keg of beer must be chilled and carbonated. I like to over carbonate by a few tenths (0.2) of a volume of CO2 to compensate for lost CO2. (some of that lost CO2 is a good thing as I’ll state later)
- I use a black Cobra/Picnic tap to dispense the beer from. I modify the tap into a filler by using a piece of tubing that will stick right over the spout of the tap (usually 3/8 ID tubing). The length of the tubing need only be long enough to reach the bottle of the bottle.
- I chill down the bottles I plan to fill. This reduces CO2 loss and foaming.
- Right before I am ready to bottle (bottles and caps washed and sanitized), I dial down the CO2 on my regulator to zero PSI, then I burp the keg to release all the head pressure.
- I put the tap with tubing filler into my first bottle and pull the trigger. Then I slowly dial up the regulator until I have just enough pressure to get the beer flowing at a decent rate. But not too fast to get excessive foaming. This can be a little tricky to manage the regulator and the bottle filler at the same time. But once you get the pressure set and the beer flowing; that’s it with fussing over the regulator settings.
- Fill the rest of my bottles and cap them. Getting a little foam while filling is a good thing as it helps to purge out the ambient air and O2. This minimizes oxidation of the beer after bottling.
- Once all the bottles are filled I reset the pressure on the regulator to my normal carbonating and dispensing pressure to keep the beer from going flat.