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Old 01-27-2008, 10:11 PM   #1
senorfartman
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Default Bottling automation ideas

Well I went to bottle my chocolate porter today and I've come to realize I can't stand the bottling method that 99% of us use. I use the standard ale pale with the tube spigot. It takes forever, it's messy and there's no way to consistently get the same amount of brew per bottle. After the spigot slid off for the 4th time and dumped beer all over myself and the floor, I realized I needed to do something.

Now I realize kegging is a very viable option but I just prefer beer in bottles. With all the innovation with homebrewers using off the shelf parts to brew beers, the area of bottling seems neglected.

So that got me to thinking, has anyone done any work toward DIY bottling and capping devices on the homebrew scale? Like a mini assembly line?

Solving the issue of volume consistency should be easy enough. Devise some sort of hopper with individual channels (think a couple funnels in a line) which would hold the beer above the bottles and have a valve under each channel. Open them all at once and the same volume should be distributed to each.

Devise some sort of system to automatically place caps on each brew.

Roll the beers after they are filled down the line to the capper. This is where I think we could have 100+ viable ideas. Anything from linear actuators pushing down the 2 levers of a standard capper to any multitude of others.

I'm off tomorrow so I'm sure this will be burning in my mind the whole days. I'm curious to see what you guys come up with.

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Old 01-27-2008, 10:46 PM   #2
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Not to rain on your parade. I think it's a great idea. After bottling 8 cases today. But, how much money do you think such equipment is going to cost and how much space is it going to take up? I can contain all of our bottling equipment within the space of a bottling bucket. I just don't think everyone has enough space for a whole large scale brewery in their brew space.

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Old 01-27-2008, 11:28 PM   #3
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I think that's where the forum can really help by pitching ideas from a wealth of backgrounds. Hell we have MLTs that cost under $30 from Home Depot.

My situation is a bit different as I own my house and am single so I'm free to do as I please in the basement. Working with off the shelf parts should be able to produce something. Also where I work we have a machine shop, CNC, electrical engineers galore and gear heads which I'll talk to and get ideas from.

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Bottled: Edwort's Pale Ale
Bottled: Dark Chocolate Porter

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Old 01-27-2008, 11:47 PM   #4
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Lots of good pictures and well within the capacity of a bunch of gear heads and a good machine shop! I've watched a local brewer using something close to this whip through a case every 5 minutes. I suspect the trickiest part is getting the bottle caps loaded so they don't jamb the capper.

http://www.applied-bottling.com/beer...ng_system.html

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Old 01-28-2008, 01:39 AM   #5
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Now that is awesome!

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Bottled: Le Stout
Bottled: Edwort's Pale Ale
Bottled: Dark Chocolate Porter

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Old 01-28-2008, 12:04 PM   #6
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If you're having THAT much trouble bottling, you're doing something wrong. Don't get me wrong, I hate bottling too (I keg now), but it's really not that hard - the majority of the work is in cleaning and sanitizing bottles and equipment, the actual bottling process should be reasonably quick and easy. A short piece of siphon tubing to attach a proper bottling wand to the spigot and you're all set. I have NEVER had it fall off and spill (or, for that matter, spill more than a tiny amount of beer in the process for any reason), nor do I have any trouble filling bottles quite consistently - you just fill until the beer nearly reaches the opening, and when you pull the wand out the beer level will fall to just the right point.

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Old 01-28-2008, 12:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funkenjaeger
If you're having THAT much trouble bottling, you're doing something wrong. Don't get me wrong, I hate bottling too (I keg now), but it's really not that hard - the majority of the work is in cleaning and sanitizing bottles and equipment, the actual bottling process should be reasonably quick and easy. A short piece of siphon tubing to attach a proper bottling wand to the spigot and you're all set. I have NEVER had it fall off and spill (or, for that matter, spill more than a tiny amount of beer in the process for any reason), nor do I have any trouble filling bottles quite consistently - you just fill until the beer nearly reaches the opening, and when you pull the wand out the beer level will fall to just the right point.
I agree, bottling is pretty simple and easy if you have a good system. On a small homebrew scale I don't see any reason to have an elaborate automated bottling system, unless you are really into gadgets and like to tinker. If you're only bottling a 5 gallon batch every week, I highly doubt there will be any time savings since the maintenance alone will likely take longer than the actual bottling.

My bottling system works great. I open up my dishwasher which has all the freshly cleaned bottles sitting on the prongs, and pull up a chair. On the counter above the dishwasher I have my bottling bucket with the tubing and bottling wand attached. I pick up a bottle, fill it to the rim, pull out the wand, and set the bottle down on the end of the open dishwasher door. If SWMBO is around, she loves to use the capper. If not, I cap them when I have a bunch and then go back to filling. With SWMBO its less than 30 minutes, alone maybe 45. Best part is, any beer dripping/spilling during the process ends up on the dishwasher door. No cleanup. I recommend this system (including a helpful SWMBO if you can find one). Good luck.
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Old 01-28-2008, 12:52 PM   #8
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If you guys that say you don't have that much trouble bottling compare your process with Seniorfartman's you'll note a key inconsistency...

bottling wand

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Old 01-28-2008, 01:07 PM   #9
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Did anybody pay attention to the Used Equipment link at Applied Bottling and see the 25bbl Production Brewery for sale...$130,000

http://www.applied-bottling.com/used...R_Brewery.html

nice...

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Old 01-28-2008, 02:40 PM   #10
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Me and my SWMBO, can knock out a 5.5gl batch in 30 minutes flat.
"edit without a bottling wand"

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