Bottle Condition or Keg for Competition?

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Well-Known Member
Dec 19, 2013
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Hi all. I’m entering my very first homebrew competition next week and wanted some opinions on how to bottle. I currently keg all my beers but have some fermdrops because I usually make one or two bottles to age or give to friends. I just fill them from the spigot on my fermonster. The beer is still in the fermentor. I do not have a counterflow chiller. But I have a growler filler attachment and have filled bottles for friends with it before. The judging day is two weeks from Friday so I should have time to bottle condition. But you have to turn the beer in a week so don’t know how it would fair filled from the keg and sitting that long. Also just realizing I don’t know if they store it cold or room temperature so not sure if bottle condition will work. Thanks for advice.
Congrats on your first competition!

I’m guessing from your post that you don’t have a counter pressure filler, beer gun, or other method to transfer fully carbonated beer from the keg to a bottle without oxygen pickup. Without a good method, I would lean towards bottle conditioning since the active yeast will scavenge the oxygen that will be picked up during the transfer.

Timing is a real issue since you have no control on temperature after you drop off – keep the bottles warm for the week you have them and bottle an extra to open and confirm you’ve got at least some carbonation before dropping off.

I’d also encourage you to try bottling off the keg as best as you can and keep a set of keg bottled and bottle conditioned sets to try after the competition is held. Packaging is a huge part of competition – a judge may not get the beer in the same condition you’d be tasting off the keg.

Good luck!
As someone who completes a lot (three gold over the last two weeks for my Grisette!), one of the biggest things judges pick up easily in comp beers is oxidation. A growler filler would let a lot of air in the bottles which could cause oxidation. It will also allow CO2 to escape which could cause you to lose a few points for under carbonation. Marshall from Brulosophy kind of took the idea of a growler filler and expanded it on. He used a growler filler, a stopper that would fit into the top of the beer bottle and a stainless wand to create something to kep the CO2 in and by squeezing the stopper, allow air to escape the bottle. If you could put something like this together, it would be better that just a growler filler. The Bru Bottler

I used his contraption for many years, it worked fine and bottles were always still carbonated. However, plenty of entries received comments regarding low carbonation. You can try to avoid that by maybe turning the CO2 up 2-3 PSI 24 hours before bottling to add a little extra. A few years ago I upgraded to the TapCooler, a very simple and compact counter pressure filler. It's fantastic and allows me to fill bottles with CO2 first and then after filling, add a little more CO2 on top of the beer before capping.

Good luck in your first comp! If you don't get a great score, remember judging is subjective, so don't be discouraged. I had a NZ Pilsner score a 31 in a local comp last year. Decent score, but thought the beer was much better than that...sure enough, in 3 other comps it scored a 45,41 and a 40. As it turned out, the local comp lost a lot of judges due to a snowstorm, so they had a lot of non-BJCP judges judging beers who really did not know what they were doing.
Ok thanks for all the help. After lots of research I was going to build one like you mentioned or like @BierMuncher diy filler. But after more thought and rereading your posts I went ahead and ordered the Tapcooler and all he accessories. I’m planning to start entering more comps and to start giving more beer to friends so I can brew more often so its probably money well spent. Garrentied delivery by Saturday from MoreBeer so plenty of time to experiment with it. Thanks for the help.