Bottling stinks - kegerator?

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zinn

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I've brewed about a dozen homebrews and bottling is my least favorite part. I'm starting to wonder if a keg or kegerator would be worth it. I'm a little confused about them though.

It takes me a while to get through a homebrew, so I like storing a bunch of bottles in my basement. How long would beer last in a kegerator? Is a kegerator all I need to store the beer, or do I need to purchase additional components? Can I fill a few bottles from the kegerator to store for later?

Thanks for the insight. Also curious to hear any other opinions re: bottling. Is there something you wish you knew about or bought when you first started to make the process easier?

Thanks!
 

AZ Maverick

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For me, I also hated bottling - I switched from bottling to a twin tower kegerator many years ago.
It's a bit of an expense to get it set up, but after that it's the best!


Kegerator.jpg
 

bracconiere

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It takes me a while to get through a homebrew,


i'm a sloppy kegger...but that gives me an idea for something like 5 of these for a batch..


i think $170 is steep, and you could do better but...just 5 bottles to fill, and basicly like throwing a twelve pack in the fridge when you want a couple cold?

(i'm just trying to think up creative ways a person that doesn't drink much can have the best of both worlds ;) :mug: )
 

Nate R

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How long would beer last in a kegerator?
For most ales, about 3 months or so. If it is very hop-forward, less time. This assumes you have a clean transfer from fermentor to keg. Or if you ferment in keg.
Is a kegerator all I need to store the beer, or do I need to purchase additional components?
You need kegs ($50-$200. Cheaper used). You need hardware if it does not come with the kegerator. C02 tank, faucets, shanks, tubing, and connectors. Always lots of good deals here on used stuff!
Can I fill a few bottles from the kegerator to store for later?
To take to a party and drink same day? Yes. Or fill a plastic growler like bracconiere suggests above.
To "save" the beer bottles you fill from your kegerator, you will need a counter pressure filler. Good diy version here for $10. Can buy a blichmann beer gun for like $70 used, or a tapacooler.
Filling from a keg is like a growler- beer only lasts for a few days. Gotta counter-pressure fill bottles from kegs if you want the beer to last.


Its worth it!! Keep an eye on the for sale here... always deals to be had!
 

RM-MN

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How long would beer last in a kegerator?
About 2-3 weeks unless you have a lot of self control. It is so easy to pour yourself a small glass of beer from the kegerator instead of opening a bottle and pouring the whole glass full.

I tolerate bottling because of the limitation of space available for a kegerator plus I can have (and have had) up to 15 different beers to choose from with all in bottles. I like the different beers. I brew in winter to take advantage of the cold temperature and can fill bottles for all summer drinking.
 

lumbergh

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I got a keezer setup about a year ago after bottling for many years. Now I know why people rave about having one. Transferring from fermenter to keg takes no time at all.
You can go with inexpensive picnic taps if you're on a budget.
If you have the space, go bigger on kegerator size. I also use my keezer to store cans (and a few bottles) and I am constantly getting low on space. It doesn't help that I get a gallons worth in cans from a brewery each week.

Remember that kegs need new o rings every so often.
 

Dr_Jeff

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About 2-3 weeks unless you have a lot of self control. It is so easy to pour yourself a small glass of beer from the kegerator instead of opening a bottle and pouring the whole glass full.

I tolerate bottling because of the limitation of space available for a kegerator plus I can have (and have had) up to 15 different beers to choose from with all in bottles. I like the different beers. I brew in winter to take advantage of the cold temperature and can fill bottles for all summer drinking.


I have 16 on tap.
Plus bottles stashed here and there.
Of the 16, three are non=beers, green apple cider, mead, and hard lemonade.
 

Broken Crow

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I'm disabled and bottling day was living hell for me, so in the winter time I got my first keg and CO2 bits and a Blichmann Beer Gun... cold crashed the keg in a near 0° extension on the house, and sat on the floor with my beer gun, rack of sanitized bottles and capper. It worked great so for me the next logical step was to just get a cheap used kegerator and leave it in the keg.
Everyones experience and comfort level is their own, but I wanted to provide some food for thought.
:bigmug:
 

Velnerj

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I'm a bit of a contrarian on this site. Like most homebrewers I started bottling and eventually switched to a DIY kegerator. Mostly for the novelty of it.

I found out that kegging doesn't really save me much time at all. Like anything new there's a bit of a learning curve. And it takes time to learn how the system works, how to upkeep it, how to troubleshoot problems that arise etc.

Then there's also the cleaning. Disassembly and reassembly of kegs, flushing and eventually replacing lines, scrubing your taps, cleaning the inside of your kegerator, cleaning the drip tray. Filling up your CO2 tank.

In my case my kegerator doubles as my ferm chamber so I need to take it apart and put it back together every time I make a batch. I'd recommend avoiding this if possible...

For me kegging doesn't save me time nor do I find it less tedious but I do find some advantages. Bottling adds at least two weeks (usually it's more) to the brewing process due to carbonation and conditioning. With a kegerator, once the beer is done fermenting I can usually have my beer in about 48hrs.

I also enjoy pulling smaller glasses at once, where when I was bottling I sometimes had to commit to more beer than I wanted. Plus, it's a cool thing to have at home and guests are usually fascinated by it.

Additionally since I have a two tap kegerator, I use the other tap for sparkling water which I quite enjoy.
 

Rish

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bottling. Is there something you wish you knew about or bought when you first started to make the process easier?
Definitely a bench capper made it much easier for me versus the wing capper. I hated dealing with cleaning and sanitizing bottles on bottling day. What I do now is rinse bottles well as I use them, then cover the opening with a 2" square piece of aluminum foil. I set those aside in 6er holders until I have about 2 cases then put them (in the cartons) in a cool kitchen oven, bring the temp to 180*F, hold for 20 minutes, then turn off and let cool without opening the door. Stays ready to use on bottling day as long as the foil is in place.
 

Broken Crow

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I found out that kegging doesn't really save me much time at all. Like anything new there's a bit of a learning curve. And it takes time to learn how the system works, how to upkeep it, how to troubleshoot problems that arise etc.
Very good point! I'm probably biased because of disability, but Velnerj details all the mundane upkeep and usage stuff that while some find it off-putting, is a bonus for me since those tasks, while there are more of them, still take less time of being upright and using my spine or arms per operation, whereas with just bottling you're doing all the work in one go. My own needs pretty much dictated a kegerator, even if I still had my health I would choose to go that route...Especially as I can still bottle from the kegerator if I want to, but I don't have to do it all at once nor handle a heavy bottling bucket. :)
 

lumbergh

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One thing that drove me nuts about bottling conditioning was the yeast at the bottom of the bottle when drinking the finished product. Sometimes a little yeast in the glass was fine. Other times it gave an off taste that I wasn't a fan of. In my case, the quality of my beer has improved.

Also, I like being able to have a small sample or smaller pour.
 
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jambop

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I've brewed about a dozen homebrews and bottling is my least favorite part. I'm starting to wonder if a keg or kegerator would be worth it. I'm a little confused about them though.

It takes me a while to get through a homebrew, so I like storing a bunch of bottles in my basement. How long would beer last in a kegerator? Is a kegerator all I need to store the beer, or do I need to purchase additional components? Can I fill a few bottles from the kegerator to store for later?

Thanks for the insight. Also curious to hear any other opinions re: bottling. Is there something you wish you knew about or bought when you first started to make the process easier?

Thanks!

Have you thought about mini kegs? I use them and think they are a very cost effective way to go. They hold 5L so good for a weekend for me and you can easily get one in a domestic fridge. The ones I use cost about €10 each and the tap cost another €60 they use CO2 capsules . If I do a 25L brew I put 20L into four of those and the rest into bottles. The good thing about them is there is no need to have another fridge in your kitchen just for beer.
 

HM-2

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I migrated to kegging fairly early in my homebrewing hobby, but still occasionally bottle (especially if I've overshot my target volume for a particular batch).
I built my kegerator from a second hand fridge off Gumtree (£50) and tap setup from one of the UK homebrew suppliers, can't remember which. I went about 6 months before setting it up for proper CO2 dispensing, just pushing some gas into the kegs when the flow started getting a bit low.

All in all I think it cost me about £300 and two half afternoons (plus cost of kegs and CO2), and holds 2 19L corny kegs plus a few cans and a load of sealed hops bags.
 

mashpaddled

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I've been brewing for thirteen years and only kegging for the past four so I've done a lot of bottling.

One downside with kegging is if you don't burn through a lot of beer, then you end up with kegs of a beer you don't want to drink over and over just sitting there. You'll have to make decisions about whether you want to power through the beer or dump them. I have been a small batch brewer since very early on so that was always one of the deterrents to kegging earlier. I have three gallon kegs so that helps turn kegs but I still don't burn through them quickly. I have too much beer in the house and still bottle some stuff. You can find smaller kegs but they don't get cheaper as they get smaller. If anything, you'll pay more because there aren't many small kegs on the used market. You can partially fill kegs but then you need to thoroughly purge the keg which means using your CO2 tanks more quickly. Buying a beer gun and bottling the rest of a keg is also an option but then you're not saving much time or effort bottling.

Kegging is an investment in cost and time and IMO it's not less time than bottling, it's just different activities. With kegging you still need to clean and sanitize, you need to clean and de-stone beer lines, get CO2 tanks filled, clean the keggerator, replace o-rings, track down leaks when they arise, balance the system, etc. Yes it's generally less time on packaging day versus bottling but it's not less time overall. You'll definitely spend more getting set up and refilling CO2 tanks than you'll ever spend on bottle caps and priming sugar.

I like having the option to keg beer but it's not without its own issues. If you just dislike the time and work involved with that part of brewing, then you're not really getting away from it by kegging.
 

Yesfan

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If you have to ask, then maybe kegging is for you. That's about your only choice left besides drinking commercial beers.

I've had 4 different kegerator configurations since I started brewing in 2012. Never once with each change did I decide kegging wasn't for me and I should have stuck with bottling.
 

Saunassa

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I have 2.5 and 5 gallons kegs and also bottle. It all comes down to time spent on packaging day or spend some time during the previous week cleaning and sanitizing.
 

Brushwood Brewing

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I've been bottling exclusively for a decade. Admittedly, one reason is the cost (I simply don't have $300 to put down on the setup). But I appreciate being able to have a wider variety of styles on hand, age some of the stronger brews for a couple years, and give some away to friends/family.

One tip I have for bottling is to buy a vinator: it only cost $20 and has made cleaning/sanitizing so much faster. I wish I had known about that earlier.
 

Saunassa

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I've been bottling exclusively for a decade. Admittedly, one reason is the cost (I simply don't have $300 to put down on the setup). But I appreciate being able to have a wider variety of styles on hand, age some of the stronger brews for a couple years, and give some away to friends/family.

One tip I have for bottling is to buy a vinator: it only cost $20 and has made cleaning/sanitizing so much faster. I wish I had known about that earlier.
Someone on here had mentioned the one on top of the bottling tree, sped things up a lot, I highly recommend.
 
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