Bottling off a keg instead of bottle conditioning?

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eliastheodosis

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Hey everyone,

Maybe this question has been asked before but every time I Google this I get "kegging vs bottling" results and that's not really what I'm looking for here.

I do small, stovetop BIAB batches. Mostly 3 gallon and lower so I can play around, experiment, and always have a variety of beer without going overboard. We'll see where it goes from here but so far I love my setup.

My only real pain point has been bottling and bottle conditioning. There are some obvious shortcomings there such as oxygen exposure during transfer (working on it), live beer, and the ever-present yeast cake that you have to worry about rousing. However, because of my small batch, constantly rotating setup it seems like bottling has many advantages. If I split a larger batch into three different experimental batches then I can bottle and dose them all separately and it's done. I have been able to do side-by-sides of split batches with different yeast, different dry hopping, fruit additions, etc with no real problems. I currently have two pilsners, three lagers, two saisons, and an IPA in the fridge. I love this setup despite seeming like a crazy person to some of my friends. I like the constant variety. I like sharing bottles. I like having several options when I look in the fridge.

So, is there a way to improve my packaging while sticking with bottles??? I haven't kegged before but I'm assuming that I would need a crazy collection of kegs and a preposterous kegerator to keep up this habit. That doesn't really interest me and doesn't necessarily fit my needs. My mind goes to kegging each beer, carbing, and then bottling off that keg. Does that make any sense? Can anybody with bottle conditioning AND kegging experience lend some insight here? I'm thinking that running batches through a keg would help me really dial in my carbonation, keep my beer more stable, and get away from the yeast cake from bottle conditioning. Is there an easier solution I'm missing? Is this a stupid solution and I don't know it yet? Patience is not a concern and neither is hands-on work. At least not at this point in my life. I don't have a problem with bottling days or conditioning time. I'm just looking to refine and improve the process without switching up my approach altogether.

Thanks!
 

CascadesBrewer

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My mind goes to kegging each beer, carbing, and then bottling off that keg.

It is an option that might have the benefits you mention. Do you have a fridge that you could use to chill the keg? Carbonating room temperature beer is a challenge (requires a very high PSI), but bottling carbonated room temperature beer will be near impossible.

The biggest downside is likely the cost. You will need all the basics of a kegging setup (keg(s), CO2 tank, regulator, hoses, connectors...maybe a fridge). While I use a No Stinking Beer Gun approach (We no need no stinking beer gun...) a counter pressure filler or beer gun might be helpful.

I tend to bottle condition my small batches and most Belgians. I have a mix of 10L and 5 gallon kegs that I use for most of my batches.
 

Murph4231

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I haven't bottled in many years but back when I did bottle I used a counter pressure filler successfully. I only bottle conditioned a couple of times back in the 90s so I'm no expert in that regard. But from my experience you can bottle carbonated beer from a keg very well with a counter pressure bottle filler. And now days they are available from a variety of vendors. Unlike when this craze began and you had to create tools on your own.
 
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eliastheodosis

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It is an option that might have the benefits you mention. Do you have a fridge that you could use to chill the keg? Carbonating room temperature beer is a challenge (requires a very high PSI), but bottling carbonated room temperature beer will be near impossible.

Okay, good to know I'm at least on the right track. I do have a fridge where I can chill the keg. That was another question I had, since I know cold is going to be my friend here. Good to know that "a challenge" and "near impossible" is what I'm looking at if I even try to do it warm.

The biggest downside is likely the cost. You will need all the basics of a kegging setup (keg(s), CO2 tank, regulator, hoses, connectors...maybe a fridge). While I use a No Stinking Beer Gun approach (We no need no stinking beer gun...) a counter pressure filler or beer gun might be helpful.

Good point about the cost. I'm not in a big rush so I'm thinking I can collect some of this off Craigslist, with the typical caveats of Craigslist purchases multiplied by working with high pressure equipment. Some cost isn't a huge barrier just so long as I'm spending the money wisely. That's part of the reason I finally stopped lurking HBT and actually posted.

I tend to bottle condition my small batches and most Belgians. I have a mix of 10L and 5 gallon kegs that I use for most of my batches.

I definitely won't be getting away from bottle conditioning across the board. I love saisons and also have a dedicated, separate cold side for my brett ferments. Those probably would never get close to this setup and I think I'd prefer to bottle condition some of them anyway. Maybe a second 10L keg for those at some point since most of those batches tend to be smaller. Not sure if that would make sense, though, since I would probably need two sets of anything in the basic setup list you mention above that touches the beer.

I haven't bottled in many years but back when I did bottle I used a counter pressure filler successfully. I only bottle conditioned a couple of times back in the 90s so I'm no expert in that regard. But from my experience you can bottle carbonated beer from a keg very well with a counter pressure bottle filler. And now days they are available from a variety of vendors. Unlike when this craze began and you had to create tools on your own.

I think I've got a decent handle on the bottle conditioning. Any time it's gone wrong on me it was definitely a problem upstream, like trying to turn a beer around too quickly and not realizing it had a couple points left. You both mention the counter pressure bottle filler. I've been reading up on that and it seems like the best way to go if I'm going to do this regularly. I don't mind doing a bunch of small batches but little annoyances definitely get magnified when you have to deal with it more often. I checked out the No Stinking Beer Gun approach and I've heard Denny Conn walk through a similar process. It's a clever idea but seems like more of a way to bottle a few beers off a keg than an everyday setup like I'm picturing.

Thanks to you both for the info!
 

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My house has an extension that has no heat. It was November and the room was usually just above freezing. The whole dextrose/bucket/fill&cap in one go routine was too much physical activity for me to handle at once, so I bought a regulator, keg, and Blichmann Beer Gun and a carb-cap with stone on the corny. After cold-crashing the glass carboy in the room a few days till everything settled, I used one of those orange carboy caps with a filter screen on the racking cane to transfer to a sanitized and purged keg, plugged in the carb cap and gave it several days or a week or something until I could get a decent pour out the beergun and then sat on the floor and bottled from the keg. Worked great and made a great stepping stone to deciding to just go with a kegerator, which I can still bottle from to share or store
 
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