Beer on the Run
With your draft beer flowing, reasons for leaving the house grow fewer and fewer, but what happens when the party is somewhere else? Schlepping a full keg rig may be overkill, so how to bring beer to share with friends?
CO2 charger — Based on a design originated for bike tires, these devices inject CO2 from disposable twelve-gram cartridges when the trigger is pulled. They are perfect for a road trip with kegs. The cartridges quickly add up in price.
Carbonator caps — Specially made screw caps that fit soda bottles. The top is molded to accept a ball-lock gas fitting. To use, fill your sanitized bottle, tighten the lid and inject up to 30 psi. Your beer will hold for a week. Some brewers use them to quickly carbonate a test sample to check flavor. Plans for homemade versions are online.
Growler — Growlers work as well for you as they do for brewpubs. The best are the two-liter German swing-top growlers, capable of keeping beer fresh for a month.
Back to the Bottle
All methods for filling bottles with carbonated beer work best when the beer and sanitized bottles are cold. Carbonation holds in cold solutions, losing less fizz during the transfer process. Your beer should be carbonated just slightly high to compensate for loss.
Ideally, you should see minimal foaming. A little shot of foam at the end is desired to follow the practice of “capping on foam.” The industry uses the bubbles to minimize the extra oxygen in the bottle.
Once filled, quickly cap and rinse the bottle. You now have bottled sediment-free beer. Bottle a few extra for testing. After a week, chill one down and crack it open to evaluate carbonation. Use other samples to check for contamination and oxidation.
Cobra line with long tube — The simplest and cheapest solution. Take a clean and sanitized cobra line and jam a piece of tubing over the spout. Place in the bottom of the bottle and dispense slowly before capping.
Counter-pressure bottle filler — Counter-pressure bottle fillers have tubes running through a stopper. The stopper allows the bottle to be pressurized and slowly filled. The most complicated to operate, they preserve the most carbonation.
Beer Gun — The Beer Gun is a one-handed device, as simple as the cobra line solution, but more effective. It eliminates foaming and CO2 loss with a long line and smooth piping to minimize turbulence.