We like to keg our beer. It has proven to be a great time-saver. We also like to bottle some beers from each keg to see how it ages, and to submit into competitions. When bottling from a keg, we use the Blichmann BeerGun, and we (mostly) love it.
Blichmann created the BeerGun as an alternative to using a counter-pressure filler. The BeerGun is a relatively simple device that has some great options. Here’s how it works:
1) Sanitize and place empty bottles in the fridge or freezer (this will reduce foaming). Placing the BeerGun and hose in the fridge or freezer for a while will also reduce foaming. Ensure kegged beer is also cold.
2) Attach Blichmann BeerGun to the keg and the CO2 regulator. Adjust regulator for each. We find that setting the regulator to 20PSI for the BeerGun is good for purging bottles of any size with CO2. Setting the regulator to as low as possible is good for pushing the beer out of the keg without creating too much foam. If you have a single regulator, the beer gun might not be for you. Dual regulators are the way to go.
3) Purge bottle with CO2. Begin filling with the BeerGun nozzle kept at the bottom of the bottle. Once the beer reaches the bottle’s brim, remove the nozzle. This, ideally, will create the ideal amount of head space in your bottle.
4) Purge headspace with CO2 before capping.
For us, the Blichmann BeerGun works nearly perfectly. We find that bottles still foam, and that we have to fill them 3/4 of the way, leave them for a few minutes, and then fill the rest. I’m sure that this could be improved by using a longer tube from the keg to the BeerGun, so that quibble is not necessary the BeerGun’s fault, except that we are are using the tubing that came with it. Another quibble is that the plate with Blichmann’s name on it pops off easily. This is not a big deal, as it’s easy to put back on, but it’s annoying. We’re guessing the reason why it was engineered that way is to make for quick and easy disassembly to clean, but when it disassembles itself while you’re bottling, it is a pain.
One final note to point out is that you will lose some carbonation in your beer when using the BeerGun. Because of this, we carbonate our beer slightly higher than if we were to serve directly from the keg. We’re still working out exactly how much we lose, but our guess would be around .25 – .5 volumes.