My Easy Kegging and Bottling Procedure

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I have been kegging my homebrews in corny kegs for about 4 years now, nearly exclusively. When I happened into a couple of pin locks, I outfitted my kegerator to handle them and never looked back. I recommend this route to anyone I talk to about it, and it has saved me a monumental amount of time, space, and headache throughout the years.
The one significant drawback to kegging is, of course, the portability and storability of bottles. They make a great gift for any number of occasions (I am packing quite a few into the car this weekend as a wedding gift, as well as a "thanks for letting me crash on your couch" gift.) When you are using kegs, you are committed to your pipeline for the life of the keg. With my two taps, I have to carefully plan to make sure I have proper variety on tap at any time. If I am reminiscing about a beer 3 months after it has kicked, my only choice is to brew it again. You also lose the ability to cellar your batches for variable amounts of time.
There are quite a few options for filling a vessel (bottle, growler, etc.) after the beer has been carbonated, but usually they come with an inherent set of mess and pain, and are imperfect at preserving carbonation. I have never used a bottle gun, but have built and used a counter pressure filler with some success, as well as a good bit of wasted brew and hassle, even with a second set of hands helping.
My solution is clearly not a breakthrough in any way, nor do I claim to be the first person operating this way. I have not been able to find any posts on here explaining a similar method, so I thought I would lay it out in a few simple steps. While you do not necessarily need any additional equipment than you would need for kegging, sanitation can be greatly improved through use of a $3.50 picnic tap and corresponding bev line/disconnect. My directions will assume this method.
1. Rack beer to keg. I have done this both before and after cold-crashing, with similar results. If you are priming and letting keg naturally carbonate, add priming sugar during racking. Since priming sugar necessary is different from bottling to kegging, carbonation drops are suggested (a few bucks from LHBS or online). If priming you can skip step 6.
2. Sanitize bottles/caps- as many as you want to fill. I typically do at least a 12 pack, but you could technically fill an entire batch of bottles.

3. Sanitize dispensing equipment. If using picnic tap, soak in sanitizer and make sure some is run through line. Spray sanitizer on keg post.
4. Stage bottles, caps (on top of bottles), capper.
5. Hook keg to CO2, under just enough pressure to push beer out of faucet.
6. Add carbonation drops per mfg. directions to bottles.
7. Fill bottles. You can cap as you go, or lay caps back on top of the bottles then cap all at once (my method when doing this alone). There is no carbonation to worry about escaping- the only worry is the normal bugs.

8. Bottles will condition as normal, and then you can continue to carbonate the rest of the batch as you prefer. The increased headspace actually helps me carbonate (I usually at least start my kegs with the 'rocking' method.

There you have it- my simple method by which about a quarter of my beer gets into bottles as painlessly as possible. Now I can decide any time to share with friends, or squirrel away to myself to age.
 
I like this but I feel as if sticking my bottling wand on the end of racking cane hose, bottling my 12 pack with drops and then continuing to racking into the keg would skip the step if sanitizing my tap. Plus no worry of oxidation from pouring into bottle.
 
Having both a 2 two tap keg system and bottling some batches. This would work perfectly for a "best of both worlds" situation. Should have thought about this way before now.
 
So, maybe I'm missing something here. Why wouldn't you force carb it THEN fill the bottles? Is it just for consistency sake?
I carb the entire keg first. Then I fill from the picnic tap. Once the bottles are capped, they hold carbonation just fine. I think that's how most do it.
 
I think a lot of folks (myself included) see a loss in carbonation, or have trouble filling bottles without 1/3+ being foam. That said, you will definitely catch me from time to time turning down my pressure, putting the bottles under a tap, and filling a 6-pack for a party or some other quick-consumption scenario.
 
I've never tried the carb tabs, but have considered it; that being said, if you drop the pressure on the keg way down so it flows very slowly with a fully open tap, and if you chill your bottles down to almost freezing temp...I agree with BrewCrewKevin and BrewerJack...very little carb loss.
 
I do the same exact thing, but i found that a racking cane fits perfectly into the end of my picinic tap. It fill the bottle from the bottom. i just fill to the top and when you pull the can out you get the perfect head space
 
I will fill bottles directly from my kegs, but I do have a couple problems.
1. I have to store the beer in the fridge.
2. It doesn't keep for long. Bottled beer from the tap lasts about as long as an unopened growler, 2-3 weeks.
The reason for this is the oxygen already in the bottle. Unless you have a beer purge/fill gun (expensive) you would have to drink the beer with in a small time frame. Not knocking the practice, like I said...I do it too. I'd like to find a good way to purge my bottle without shelling out $150-200 on a beer gun.
 
I don't see this as any different than filling straight from a bottling bucket, so there is no more risk of oxidation than the traditional technique. I have heard (on HBT) that leaving the caps sitting on top of the bottles for a short period before crimping them can purge the O2 with disturbed CO2 that was in solution. I don't know how much truth there is to that part, but that is how I do it anyway.
I use a racking cane sometimes, as well. fits great in the tap, especially with a little dab of keg lube.
 
I also use my Kegorator tower for bottling, but after it's carbed. The key to low foam is low temps. If you get the beer and bottles down in the 30's F and bring down the gas pressure to around 5 lb/sq.in. You will be fine.
Sanitation is key, but I still don't trust the tap to be 100% free of contamination. Since I only bottle for competitions, I also Pasteurize the beer bottles to avoid the beer spoiling.
Good Luck,
 
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