Deciding what bottling process to go with

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eddieg115

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Hey everyone - Looking for some solid advice on which bottling process to pursue. Here's what I'm trying to do:

While reading the four brewer's publications books, I decided I want to start experimenting more. For example, do more 1 - 1.5 gallon batches with different water profiles, yeast strains, malt tweaks, and so on (you know really dive deep into the practice). I would also like to start entering my beer into a competition if a good batch were to arise.

With that being said, I am set for a 5 gallon brew day. I absolutely hate bottling so a couple months ago I switched over to kegging my beer instead. So with that, I'm considering 3 alternatives: Canning, Smaller Kegs, or Bottling w/ a CO2 purge. (Mind you Im also attempting to stay within a budget, wiling to invest the $ but not an astronomical amount).

With canning I would need the seamer, cans, and a beer gun which all comes out to around $850

With smaller kegs, I would need a couple of 1.5 - 2 gal kegs ($100-120 ea.) plus I would need to install more taps. A con with this is if I ever wanted to enter a comp I wouldn't be able to enter because it might lose carb - $600 - $750

With a purge CO2 bottle, it would be the cheapest because I would just need a beer gun. But I've been reading that bottles are susceptible to O2 seeping through the cap.

Just looking for advice or anyone who's used the methods above, what did and didnt work.
Cheers!
 

Harleybrew32

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I got a beergun and bottle off the keg. pretty simple process once you get the hang of it.
canning seems like alot of money to invest plus you have to store all the cans, a con if you dont have a lot of room.
 

Bohern

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I thought about cans for a bit and it is cool, but you can a whole bunch of cans before you offset that intial investment.

I got a beergun and bottle off the keg. pretty simple process once you get the hang of it.
canning seems like alot of money to invest plus you have to store all the cans, a con if you dont have a lot of room.
 
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eddieg115

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I got a beergun and bottle off the keg. pretty simple process once you get the hang of it.
canning seems like alot of money to invest plus you have to store all the cans, a con if you dont have a lot of room.
Have you experienced any oxidization of the beer if it sits to long? and just to clarify, is it possible to transfer directly from the fermenter to a bottle while carbing it and eliminating the conditioning period that comes with adding priming sugar?
 

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I wouldn't worry much about the O2 ingress you might get from a bottle cap vs a seamed can lid. There are more than likely many other areas of your current brewing process where larger amounts of O2 are unintentionally introduced. Any effort to minimize oxidation after the packaging has been completed is unbeneficial if noticeable amounts of O2 have already been introduced from prior areas of the brewing process. With that said, have you considered counter pressure bottling? I have bottled a couple hundred gallons of beer using this method to great effect. When done correctly the shelf life of even your more O2 susceptible beers can be quite long.
 
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eddieg115

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I wouldn't worry much about the O2 ingress you might get from a bottle cap vs a seamed can lid. There are more than likely many other areas of your current brewing process where larger amounts of O2 are unintentionally introduced. Any effort to minimize oxidation after the packaging has been completed is unbeneficial if noticeable amounts of O2 have already been introduced from prior areas of the brewing process. With that said, have you considered counter pressure bottling? I have bottled a couple hundred gallons of beer using this method to great effect. When done correctly the shelf life of even your more O2 susceptible beers can be quite long.
I just gave it a look through and it looks like its definitely an option to consider. With the counter pressure filler, do you need to carb it in a keg before you use the filler or will the CO2 you add when you purge it be enough to carb the beer? If it is enough, how long would the beer take to carb itself?
 

madscientist451

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With smaller kegs, I would need a couple of 1.5 - 2 gal kegs ($100-120 ea.) plus I would need to install more taps. A con with this is if I ever wanted to enter a comp I wouldn't be able to enter because it might lose carb - $600 - $750
!
I bought two 2.5 gallon cornys on sale a few years ago for $70 each. I liked them so much I bought a few more, although I still use the 5 gallon kegs as well.
You can still find them on sale now and then. They're great for parties, they'll fit in a "cube" ice chest and will also fit in a regular refrigerator without having to take all the shelves out. I brew a lot of small batches, so I use them a lot.
If you want to enter competitions, I think a beer gun would be a good investment either with the small kegs or without.
The 1.5 gallon kegs are the same price as the 2.5 gallon, and I'd like to have a really small keg to take to brew club, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.
 

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Have you experienced any oxidization of the beer if it sits to long? and just to clarify, is it possible to transfer directly from the fermenter to a bottle while carbing it and eliminating the conditioning period that comes with adding priming sugar?
Bottling before fermentation has finished will both carbonate the beer and is the lowest oxidation form of bottling.

HOWEVER

It requires you to know what you're doing as a mistake means bottle bombs (or flat beer).

You'd need to perform a forced ferment test on every batch.
 

Harleybrew32

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I havent noticed any oxidation, I purge with Co2 and cap on foam. always do one bottle at a time and chill the bottles will help with foaming. i only bottle a few beers maybe a six pack or so for a buddy too.
 

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I just gave it a look through and it looks like its definitely an option to consider. With the counter pressure filler, do you need to carb it in a keg before you use the filler or will the CO2 you add when you purge it be enough to carb the beer? If it is enough, how long would the beer take to carb itself?
The beer must be fully carbonated in a keg prior to bottling. In fact, the beer should be over carbonated a bit to account for a little loss of carbonation that occurs during the filling process. The headspace left in the bottle will also cause a little loss of carbonation as the CO2 in and out of solution reaches equilibrium.
 

toxdoc49

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I have been considering just getting small kegs since I want to go from 5 to 10 or 15 gallon batches. But I don't know much about kegging, although it would seem less time consuming to me. All those bottles take up a lot of time. I was actually going to ask what the opinion was on kegging beer vs bottling.
 

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I'm a big fan of the Tapcooler...very simple and relatively inexpensive. Even my NEIPAs have lasted months with no oxidation (that I can perceive). I bottle from my kegs to give to friends, more now than ever...
 
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