Monday, October 18, 2010

Rockin' the Beer Gun

I think few people will get the title of this post, because it's a spinoff of an unpopular country song. If you get it, kudos to you, and Nikki, you don't count.

As promised last week, my beer gun has arrived in the mail! And while you can't hold up a bank with it, it's rumored to fill beer bottles with unrivaled ease. The beer gun comes from the almighty Blichmann Engineering, makers of the FERMENATOR (which none of you can help saying in any voice other than the announcer for the WWE). The engineers over at Blichmann tend to make high quality, intricate, and high price amateur beer brewing equipment. I heard about the beer gun a little ways back, and relative to the other equipment, was much more in my range of affordability. Other beer dispensing system seem overly complex, where the Beer Gun has a one handed two finger approach. Lets start with the setup.

The Beer Gun by itself comes with the gun, 10' of beer line, and a pipe cleaner to clean the inside of the gun. The "optional" accessory kit comes with a gas line, a fitting to connect the line to your gun, a ball lock, and a barbed flare and nut to connect the beer line to said ball lock. I say "optional" because to me it seems that these items tend to be necessary to the whole process. The beer gun kit itself is around $70 depending where you look, and the accessory kit is another $30.

In addition to the kit I ordered I also had to make some modifications to my CO2 system (pictured). At the regulator I installed a T and a ball valve so I could connect the beer gun to it anytime without dismantling my whole system. Not a huge issue, but an extra cost that should be expected.

This morning I prepped everything to go. I sanitized my gun, the tubing, the connector, my caps, and my bottles for the competition (plus one for trial).

Setting up and filling was actually a total breeze. I connected up the CO2, opened the ball valve, and heard the slow hiss from my gun (this is expected). I opened up my kegerator, popped the original ball lock off the keg and replaced it with my beer gun lock, and filled away. With my ring finger I depressed the gas button for about 2 seconds to purge the bottle with CO2, then with my middle finger I pulled the trigger and filled the bottle with the oh so sweet nectar of the gods. Once the beer got to the top edge I withdrew the gun and gave it another shot of CO2 to clear the head space in the bottle, and moved to the next one. I had all four bottles filled in under 2 minutes, easy. Despite the directions I decided not to follow (chilling the bottles and decreasing the pressure in my system, both to reduce foaming), I had little or no foaming in the bottles. I am very impressed, because I've had some serious issues with foaming in the past.

 I'm extremely impressed with Blichmann's bottle filler. It's one handed operation made everything move without flaw one bottle to the next. Some people might be a little worried about the CO2 escaping, but lighten up people, the simplicity is worth the trade off. On top of everything else, it's fun running around the house pulling the trigger at everything and saying "beer! beer! beer!"

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