Project

Counterpressure Bottle Filler

Kegging is convenient. it eliminates the bottling process, and cuts out days of carbonating time. When you bring a keg to a friend’s house, however, you’re bringing a lot of beer. The more beer you bring, the more beer the friends drink. You may never get a full glass for yourself. These are the times that call for bottles.

You can try the tube in the faucet thing to fill a few bottles, but in a few hours it’s just not the same beer. The mouthfeel is wrong, the head dissipates, and the carbonation is nil.

Using a counterpressure filler, you can achieve a perfect fill with no oxidation (wet cardboard flavor) and little or no loss of carbonation. This is a closed, keg-to-bottle filling system. With the right filler, you can eliminate oxidation and retain at least 80 percent of original carbonation.

The idea is to fill the bottle while keeping the carbon dioxide in solution. Filling straight from the faucet would cause foaming and result in CO2 coming out of solution. Under pressure a controlled rate of flow can be achieved to eliminate or cause very little foaming, retaining much of the CO2 in solution. The bottle is equalized to the pressure of the keg. This will not allow the beer to flow. You release this pressure slowly so the bottle will fill at a controlled rate. The bottle can also be purged of oxygen, thus reducing chance of oxidation.

Here are two easy fillers to construct: a two-handled model and a three-handed model. The two-handed model has no bleed valve. The purging of oxygen and release of CO2 are achieved through squeezing the rubber stopper. This model is simpler to construct yet not quite as efficient as the three-handed, bleeder-valve model. With the bleeder-valve model you can achieve a much slower fill resulting in less foam and more CO2 retained in solution.

Parts and Tools

To build the two-handed model:

  • (2) 1⁄4-inch pipe-thread ball valves
  • (1) 1⁄4-inch pipe-thread female T
  • (2) 1⁄4-inch pipe-thread nipples
  • (1) 3⁄8-inch compression fitting with 1⁄4-inch male pipe thread
  • (2) 1⁄4-inch male pipe thread hose barbs (barb to fit your tubing)
  • (1) #2 rubber stopper
  • (1) 3⁄8-inch brass tube (about 16 inches in length)
  • (2) small hose clamps
  • Teflon plumbers tape

To build the three-handed model:

  • (2) 1⁄4-inch pipe-thread ball valves
  • (1) 1⁄4-inch pipe-thread needle valve
  • (1) 1⁄4-inch pipe-thread female T
  • (3) pipe-thread nipples
  • (1) 3⁄8-inch compression fitting with 1⁄4-inch male pipe thread
  • (2) 1⁄4-inch compression fitting with 1⁄4-inch male pipe thread
  • (2) 1⁄4-inch male pipe thread hose barbs (barb size to fit your tubing)
  • (1) #2 rubber stopper
  • (1) 4-inch length of 3⁄8-inch brass tubing
  • (1) 16-inch length of 1⁄4-inch brass tubing
  • (2) small hose clamps
  • Teflon plumbers tape

1: The two-handed model

Start by wrapping the nipples with a length of Teflon tape and thread into the T. You may set up the filler either with a valve on top and side or both sides (see diagram). It works well using the top and side with the top being the beer valve. That way the beer doesn’t have to turn corners and this straight line of travel may create less foam.

2: Threading

Thread the hose barbs onto the valve ends and the valves to the nipples, being sure to wrap Teflon tape on all threads. Put the brass tubing into the compression fitting and tighten down. Now, thread the compression fitting into the leftover opening on the T.

3: Finish

Slide on the rubber stopper and insert the filler into the largest bottle you plan to fill. For proper fill, the tube should be about 1⁄4-inch from the bottom of the bottle. You may need to cut some length from the tubing to get the proper length. Finally, attach your plastic tubing to the hose barbs with the clamps and your filler is ready for CO2 hookup and beer.

4: The three-handed model

Start by wrapping the nipples with a length of Teflon tape and thread into the T. You may set up the filler either with a valve on top and side or both sides (see T with valves diagram). Next, thread the valves onto the nipples, being sure to wrap Teflon tape on all nipple threads. Then thread the hose barbs onto the valve ends Now, put the 1⁄4-inch brass tubing into the 1⁄4-inch compression fitting and tighten down. Thread the compression fitting into the leftover opening on the T. Then thread the 1⁄4-inch compression fitting into one end of the T and the 3⁄8 fitting into the other end. The compression fitting should be on opposite ends so you can see through one out the other.

5: Bleeder assembly

Thread the remaining nipple into the remaining opening on the T. Next, thread the needle valve onto the nipple. Insert the 3⁄8-inch tubing into the 3⁄8-inch compression fitting and tighten down. Slide this “bleeder assembly,” 1⁄4-inch compression fitting first, onto the 1⁄4 tubing until it meets the other 1⁄4-inch compression fitting. Tighten the fitting.

6: Finish and configure

Slide the rubber stopper on the 3⁄8-inch tubing and insert the filler into the largest bottle you plan to fill. The tube for proper fill should be about a 1⁄4-inch from the bottom of the bottling to get the proper length. You may also want to cut down the bleeder tube, as it only needs to extend about a 1⁄4-inch beyond the stopper. Now that you’ve got your filler, it’s time to use it. The hook up is quite simple, requiring little or no extra parts depending upon your current kegging configuration. You will need a T fitting and beer-out quick disconnects, the size of which depends on your own setup. What you do with these fillers (see the main diagram on page 29) is connect the gas-in directly to the CO2 via the T on your regulator. The beer line goes to the keg-out. The setup is the same on both units.