DIY Beer Gun for Under $40

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I have been kegging my beer for a while, now. One of the things I miss is the ease of sharing my beer. I used to just grab a bottle from the case and pass it along. So, I wanted to an easy way to be able to get back to sharing bottles. And it seems that bottle fillers are one of the best ways to go. I have wanted a bottle filler for a while now. I have used the Blichmann Beer Gun™ and looked at the Last Straw, too. I just couldn’t justify the $100 price tag, just to fill a few bottles. I made a simple counter pressure filler. It worked okay, but it didn’t give me the ease-of-use I was looking for. So, I decided to take a closer look at the designs of some bottle fillers and see what parts I might be able to get at the local hardware store or on Amazon. I discovered that most of the parts could be easily purchased. The ones that I could not find wouldn’t be that hard to make or modify from something that I could purchase. I played with design for a while and I combined some things that the other bottle fillers used with some ideas I found online from other people that like to tinker, like me. With my pile of parts and a “few trial and error” attempts, I came up with this setup. If you consider my time, I probably should have just bought one. But, that wouldn’t have been as much fun, even with the failures and cursing. Now, I can share it and maybe someone else can save some money.
ItemMeasurementsCost
Stainless Steel 304 Welded Tube1/8" OD, 0.093" ID, 0.016" Wall, 36" long (cut to 11.5”)$7.70









Stainless Steel 304L Seamless Tube (recommended)3/8" OD, 0.277" ID, 12" Length$8.18
OR
Stainless Steel 304L Seamless Tube1/4" OD, 0.18" ID 12" Length$5.09









Interstate Pneumatics VBT44 - Brass Button Valve1/4 Inch x 1/4 Inch Female NPT$8.97
Brass Reducing Bushing1/4" x 1/8"$1.09
MPT Adapter1/4" flare x 1/4"$1.38
MPT Adapter1/8" compression x 1/8"$2.93
Food Grade Vinyl Tubing5/16" ID 7/16" OD (2 pieces 1/2 inch long, cut)$0.68 / ft
Food Grade Vinyl Tubing (ONLY IF YOU USED 1/4" STEEL TUBE)1/4" ID 7/16" OD$0.68 / ft
Bottle filler with removable tip and springNA$2.95
Total Cost
$31.47 OR $33.88

This setup basically has two main assemblies, a gas side and a liquid side. I used a couple pieces of the vinyl tubing over the stainless steel tubes to hold them together. If you push them as far you can towards the ends, they will stretch a bit and tension will do a nice job of holding the pieces together. You could probably use a couple of “O” rings or clips, if you want a cleaner look. All the parts that touch the beer are either stainless steel or food grade plastic.

DIY Beer Gun Gas Side


The gas side has the button valve in the middle and is adapted to a 1/4 flare on one side, that will connect to the coupling nut that would normally go to you ball or pin quick disconnect for the CO2. The other side has a couple adaptors to get the 1/4 button valve to a 1/8” compression adaptor. The 1/8 SS tube is bent in a couple places to allow it to be parallel to the liquid tube for most of its length, ending just short of the bottle filler tip.

DIY Beer Gun Liquid Side


The liquid end has the 1/4” tube, the bottle filler tip and a small piece of vinyl tubing. I used the vinyl tubing as a reducer to connect the bottle filler tip to the 1/4” tube. I could/should have used a 3/8” tube and skipped the reducer, but I already had the 1/4” tube and didn’t want to go out and buy another part. You could put a coupling on the end to adapt to the liquid line, but the 1/4” vinyl hose that I use on my liquid lines fit nice and snug. The Blichmann Beer Gun™ also uses the same type of press fit vinyl tube connection on their liquid line.

How it Works


Setup
1. Connect the liquid line to you keg
2. Connect the gas line to your CO2 tank splitter
3. Turn the CO2 on your connection down to 2-3 PSI (this helps to avoid foaming)
4. De-gas your keg to let some of the pressure off (this helps to avoid foaming)
5. Chill the bottles (this helps to avoid foaming)
Use
1. Place the tip down “near” the bottom of you chilled bottle. Don’t press down on the tip, yet.
2. Press and hold the button for a few seconds to purge the oxygen and fill the bottle with CO2
3. Now, press down on the wand, so the bottle filler tip is pushed in and starts to fill the bottle.
4. Fill the bottle all the way to the top, then lift the filler to let the tip back to its closed position.
5. Cap the bottle

Tips


Fill your bottles in a sink, tub, tray, or bucket. With foaming and “little accidents” things can get messy, sometimes.
It’s okay to have a little foam over. In fact it is a good thing. If you cap on the foam, you will have the least chance of oxygen getting in your bottle.
Some people turn up their regulator a few PSI a day or a few hours before bottling, to compensate for any loss of carbonation when filling. This is not a bad idea, but you also risk getting too much foam when filling. If I had a beer that was supposed to be on the high end of the carbonation spectrum, I might do this.
 

Comments

The local brew shop and others I've talked to just say to reduce the pressure to 5 psi or less and stick a tube into the tap. I made the "simple counter pressure filler" you refer to, but it's been a pain without two people, at least with my keg system. I was wondering if they are right?
How does a beer gun make it easier and/or better?
 
I have one of the Ferrari bottle fillers from pre-kegging days. Aside from not purging the O2 with CO2, is there any other reason not to just stick that on the end of a growler filler attachment and bottle like that from the keg?
That aside, this is an excellent article and I may just do this.
 
I think the main advantages of the beer guns are to purge the O2 from the bottle with CO2 to cut your chances of oxidation and give you a one handed operation. I use the tube in the tap/growler filler method if I'm just taking a growler over to a friends. I'll use the filler if I intend to bottle more or if I'm keeping bottles for a longer time. I also get much better carbonation control in a keg. So, no more gushers or flat bottles.
At some point, I may try to add a stopper to make this work like a counter pressure filler. I want to add another button or something to release the preasure, other than just pinching a stopper.
 
Doesn't the beer purge the oxygen when you fill it? I guess if there is a lot of churning during the fill then it could entrain some oxygen, but if the flow is smooth, it should just push the oxygen out, correct? Seems like the CO2 would be needed after you pull the wand and it pulls oxygen back in the top of the neck. Maybe fill it and then give it a shot of CO2 in the top of the neck right before capping.
 
If you purge with CO2, you should have no O2 in the bottle to start. After filling the bottle, you can also "top off" the bottle with another shot of CO2. If you don't, you can still have the small head space at the top which is O2 and bad for the beer. If you watch any of the YouTube videos on these fillers (beer gun or last straw), this is generally what they recommend.
 
Purging doesn't work like that. Co2 and O2 mix. You would need to purge for a longer time for it to be worth it. Filling the bottle to the top with beer purges 100% of O2. Come to think of, purging with CO2 at first doesn't really do anything since you fill the bottle with beer anyway which removes the O2.
 
On my keezer, I just purchased a manifold with an extra valved outlet than I needed and connected a length of gas hose to it. BOOM, purging pipe
 
There will be some mixing of CO2 and O2, but if you do it at a low pressure (3-5psi is the recommendation), the CO2 will displace the O2 because it is more dense without too much mixing.
Low pressure purge from the bottom up for 3 sec or so will displace almost all the O2, filling from bottom with beer will displace the rest. Almost all the CO2 you put in the bottle with the beer gun will end up pushed out, but it makes a protective blanket on top. And any foaming from beer as you fill only adds to the CO2 headspace.
Some people do this without the purge and just induce a little foaming as they fill so they can just cap on the foam and that does the same thing. But this method allows you to keep your beer's carbonation as much as possible.
 
I usually just use a party tap with a bottlefiller( end cut off) shoved in the end of it. I slipped a no 2 drilled stopper over it to act as a counter pressure filler. I have had excellent results with this method I have filled bottles at 12 psi with No problem. The main trick is to run a glass thru th e line to cool it first.
 
I'm not an expert on gases but from the extensive reading I have done, even at low pressure gases will mix. The "blanket" doesn't exist. Over time, O2 will rise to the top but when CO2 is introduced it is mixed.
The only way to purge 100% of the O2 right away is filling the bottle with beer. When the bottle is filled to the top with beer, all O2 has been removed. When the filler is removed, the beer level drops and air is introduced into the bottle. That little headroom does have O2 in it. Purging the bottle with CO2 first, really didn't do anything.
 
What about just dropping a small piece of dry ice into your empty bottles, waiting for it to sublimate and then gently filling with a tube?
 
This is pretty great but if no ones mentioned it yet as another option you can get the keg king bottle gun which is a clone of the blichmann gen 1 gun with accessories for around $35 with free shipping from aliexpress... I bought mine there a couple years ago.
 
btw the blanket does exist for a short period of time but over the course of a few minutes the gases would continue to mix.. according to the videos I watched a couple years ago where they actually found a way to color the gases of different densities to show the effect. in any case purging with co2 would help as long as you bottled in a timely matter and one at a time..
 
I'm curious how the carbonated the bottles are afterwards? I have a homemade one using a picnic tap and cane tube from a bottle filler, while it works the bottles are always seriously under carbonated. I'm hoping this solves the problem.
 
@CTS - Sorry for the late reply. I just noticed the comment. I was getting good carbonation levels using this filler. But, I added a rubber stopper to make it a counter pressure filler, which further cuts down on the loss. I usually kick up the pressure a few pounds a day or so before filling. Then, I turn it down to a just a few pounds to push the beer and de-gass the keg right before filling. That helps, too.
 
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