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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

BeerGunning the Imperial Rhino Stout 2011

Back in 2010 I made a big holiday beer out of some left over ingredients.  This was before I was doing starters, multiple early O2 infusions and yeast rousing.  It ended up being a pretty high alcohol beer at around 10.17% even if it was pretty sweet with a 1.026 FG.   I bottled it up in champagne style 750 ml bottles with some carb tabs.  In retrospect I should have added some fresh yeast as after several months most opened bottles were flat. 

One of my favorite pieces of brewing equipment
Salvation came that Christmas in the form of a Blichmann BeerGun.  A Blichmann BeerGun is like counter-pressure bottle filler in that allows you to bottle fully carbonated beer straight from a keg however unlike a traditional CP there is no need to pressurize the bottle to keg pressure.  It should be noted that I have filled bottles from both a corny keg as well as a sanke keg I just had to assemble a second set of connectors.  Basically it is a handheld version of a commercial bottle filler used in commercial brewing, Bootlegger’s actually uses two Blichmann BeerGuns to bottle all of their beers.

It should be obvious why bottling from a BeerGun is so great.  Basically it allows you to really dial in the carbonation level you want in the beer, eliminates concerns on carbonating high alcohol beers and there is no bottle sediment to cloud up my beer once poured.  I’m sure several people with disagree with eliminating all bottle conditioning potential of the beer but for the most part I’m not brewing the types of beers that benefit from bottle conditioning. 

I busted out the BeerGun both Saturday and Sunday this past weekend to fill some bottles.  The Saturday I only filled 8 bottles total; 4x 22oz Scott’s BIG IPL w/Citra to take to various events, 2x 12oz Scott’s BIG IPL w/Citra for the 2012 Doug King Memorial HomebrewContest next month and 2x 12oz StarRaptor to send to my collaboration partner.

The newest label for Scott's BIG IPL

Sunday was much different as I set out to drain a couple of kegs.  First up was the bottling of all remaining Imperial Rhino Stout 2011 into 12oz bottles.  Later this week I’ll label and wax them.  After that I filled a case of 22oz of Marshall’s bourbon barrel barley wine so I could get back the keg I’d lent him. 

The BeerGun is a great tool for any homebrewer to have in their toolbox.  It assembles and disassembles quickly for easy cleaning and works exactly as advertised.  It has two triggers, one flushes the bottle with CO2 to protect the beer from oxidation and the other fills the bottle with carbonated beer.  Once you flush and fill a quick sanitized crown goes on as usual.  The trick I’ve found to filling bottles with a BeerGun is to have the bottle and beer at roughly the same temperature.  You can chill the bottles two ways depending on time, in the fridge or if you’re in a pinch the freezer.  If I’m pressed I clean and sanitize the bottles then stick them in the freezer while I set up the bottling table.

I'll be back on Thursday to cover labeling and waxing the Imperial Rhino Stout 2011



The Pictures

Sanitized bottles drying
Topped with sanitized foil
In the freezer while I set up
The BeerGun holstered in a 22oz of sanitizer
Connections to the keg
Pressure turned way down
Venting the keg before starting to fill
BeerGunned glass of IRS2011
Flushing the bottle with CO2
Filling the bottle
Cap as normal
Nearly a case of 10.9% Imperial Stout

Marshall's Barley Wine

Chilling some 22s
Very low foam when everything is at the proper temp
One case of Bourbon Barrel Aged Barley Wine to go, but how will I remember it's Marshall's?
Problem solved!


  1. I love the Beer Gun. I think I told you that your recommendation pushed me over the edge to pull the trigger (pun intended) and buy one. I'm so glad I did. To me, it is ingenious in its simplicity of design. The way it breaks down for cleaning is just awesome.

    I don't know if you've seen on my blog, but one thing I've done is add priming sugar to a corny, rack the fermented beer on it, and use the Beer Gun straight from the keg. Basically using the keg as a bottling bucket. Not really how the gun was intended to be used, but still smoother than the "old" bottling day.


  2. Great blog post Scott! I'd love to be there when you are doing all of this stuff, but if I cant then these blog summaries are great. Keep the Rhino comin'!


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