Bottling & Kegging; Which method?

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TeflonTom

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This is my first post on the forum, but I have been getting some great advice by reading on here so far.

I currently have 3 6-gallon batches of beer fermenting, but I am still not sure what method to use when it comes to packaging and carbonation. After looking around and asking some brewers, I was told of the sugar/simple syrup priming method for bottling. However, I also have a few corny kegs that I will be using to package the rest of the beer. This will be my first time actually bottling or packaging any beer and I'm a bit unsure as what to do. Should I just package it in the kegs and pressurize it, then wait to transfer it to bottles and cap them? Or, should I go the route of priming the beer with sugar and bottling and kegging the brew?

Currently for equipment, I am working with glass carboys as the fermenter. For bottling I only have 24 bottles, a racking cane auto-siphon, a 5-gallon bottling bucket, and then the corny kegs. Any equipment recommendations are welcome.
 

lumpher

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Here's what I would do: Boil 5 oz sugar in a cup or so of water for a few minutes (maybe 5-10). Dump that into a keg. Siphon beer to that keg and fill it up. Use the beer in that keg to fill the bottles, since the sugar will be well mixed in by that point. Fill up the kegs with the rest of the beer. This way you'll have the experience of both bottling and kegging and can decide which you want to do. Personally, I HATE bottling and haven't done it in 11-12 years, and will not do it again. My idea of bottling now is filling a growler from a keg. Having done both, you can decide if you want to bottle, keg, or both.
 
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You can prime in a keg as well, I would use a calculator and weigh the priming sugar accordingly so you dont over or under carbonate. If you are going to force carbonate there are charts for how much co2 pressure you'll need at a given temperature to achieve proper carbonation.
 
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TeflonTom

TeflonTom

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Awesome! Thank you guys so much for the help. I also happen to have some growlers from other brewery tours laying around so maybe I'll give that a shot while I'm at it.
 

hotbeer

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For bottling, I highly recommend a bench capper and not one of those things that take two hands. Bench capper won't tire you out and I feel that you get a better feel for when it's really capped and crimped correctly.

I don't keg, but if you are going to naturally carbonate in the keg, then find out if you need to modify the dip tube so you don't get yeast from the bottom in your glass. Maybe there isn't enough yeast to worry about, but as I said, I don't keg. I'm happy with bottles and their mobility.
 
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TeflonTom

TeflonTom

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I'm not a huge fan of yeast in my brews either so I got floating dip tubes for the kegs to avoid pulling from the settled yeast. Unfortunately, I already got one of the two-hand cappers rather than the bench variant. Got it from a friend that had a spare, I'll give it a try and see if I should pick up a bench later.
 

GoodTruble

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I usually make 6-7 gallon batches, keg just under 5 gallons and bottle the rest.

I don't use a bottling bucket. And I suggest just filling the kegs & bottles directly from the fermenter to avoid extra, unnecessary oxygen exposure.

I usually fill the kegs first, then bottle the rest.

I usually force-carb the kegs, but also just prime with boiled sugar water sometimes.

For the bottles, I calculate the amount of sugar need and the amount of water it's dissolved in to then individually douse each bottle using a sanitized plastic syringe/stopper before filling with beer.

You can use a carb calculator and do the math.

Or if you want to be really lazy, my rule of thumb is 1.2 cups of sugar to 1.25 cups of water to carb a 5 gallon keg. Using same ratio, 12 oz bottles get 5 ml. 20 oz bottles get 10 ml. 32 oz bottles get 15 ml. [I know people will do the math and dispute/trash that rule of thumb, but it's a simplified system that has worked for me to carbonate all styles (erring on the high side - because as long as it pours well enough, over-carbed beer will flatten out in the glass. Under-carbed beer can't be fixed once poured)].
 
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superiorsat

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You only have enough bottles for less than half of one of your 6 gallon batches. Since you have kegs one would assume you have a CO2 setup for using said kegs. Fill kegs and force carbonate, bottle the remainder if you must for the experience. You will end up with between a 6 pack and a 12 pack of bottles depending on how much you can cleanly get out of the fermenter. After a few weeks compare your bottled beer to your kegged beer and then you can decide on which you consider to be a better product. As said by others gave up bottling my extra remaining beer a long time ago. If I have any extra now I usually just force carb it in 2 liter bottles and drink it right after.
 

GoodTruble

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I agree using bigger bottles helps cut down on the time and hassle of bottling the rest. But those details probably come down to preferences and equipment onhand.
 

balrog

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Bottling from a keg, after beer is carbonated, and very very cold, can be a little tricky and something to practice and maybe put off until you have other systems and procedures well in hand and under control.

Note: "use a carb calculator" I have to interject here is sometimes fraught with what temp to use. Use the highest temp that the fermenting beer saw during active fermentation. Do not use cold crash temp for instance.

Finally, if you really want to bottle, you need about 50 12oz bottles for a 5 gallon batch of beer so you need to start having your friends collect and save them for you. Your meticulously clean friends. Your meticulously clean friends who rinse a beer bottle out immediately after emptying. Otherwise you'll be starting a lovely wide-ranging and colorful collection of mold.

Oh, and no screw top bottles. Hard for the the cap crimpers to make a good seal.
 

rock_n_herm

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I bottle all of my small 2.5 gallon batches using the 2 handed wing capper. It takes a deft touch to get the cap crimped properly, but once you know the “touch“ it should become second nature. Practice on empty bottles first, and make sure your bottles and caps work together. For instance, I know that Sierra Nevada bottles work with my wing capper. Lagunitas bottles, with a shorter neck crown, do not work with my capper.
 

doug293cz

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Bottling from a keg, after beer is carbonated, and very very cold, can be a little tricky and something to practice and maybe put off until you have other systems and procedures well in hand and under control.

Note: "use a carb calculator" I have to interject here is sometimes fraught with what temp to use. Use the highest temp that the fermenting beer saw during active fermentation. Do not use cold crash temp for instance.

Finally, if you really want to bottle, you need about 50 12oz bottles for a 5 gallon batch of beer so you need to start having your friends collect and save them for you. Your meticulously clean friends. Your meticulously clean friends who rinse a beer bottle out immediately after emptying. Otherwise you'll be starting a lovely wide-ranging and colorful collection of mold.

Oh, and no screw top bottles. Hard for the the cap crimpers to make a good seal.
For a simple method to bottle from a keg, see here. As said, the colder the beer the better, and chill the bottles too.

Brew on :mug:
 
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