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Thread: 4 head bottle filler for $275

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Vidor, TX, Texas
    Posts
    75

    4 head bottle filler for $275

    I was planning on purchasing the 4 head manual counter pressure bottle filler from KW Kent for $8,695. I saved up the money and called them to order it and we were about 6 weeks out from our launch date. When I called they said they had sold the last one the day before and that they would not be getting any in for 3 to 5 months. Nobody else carried them, but I found one in the UK. They would not sell it to me for insurance reasons, or something.

    I had decided on this filler after contacting breweries who used it.
    One brewer filled 22 oz bomber bottles with it and they looked up their records for me and the very first time they used it they bottled 8 barrels of beer in about 5 1/2 hours. That is just the bottling time, they had about 2 1/2 hours of setting up and sanitizing prior to bottling.

    Anyway, I could not buy the bottling machine I wanted, so I made one.
    I had talked to people and read all I could find on how different bottling machines worked, so I had a basic understanding. I had bottled many times as a homebrewer with a counter pressure bottle filler and HATED IT!

    I was going to just make several counter pressure fillers and mount them so it would be hands free. The key to a good counter pressure filler is to use an adjustable pressure relief valve instead of a needle valve. With a needle valve, when you adjust it to the right back pressure, it works great, but as soon as foam hits it, you need to open the valve so it will continue to fill. With a relief valve when foam hit it, it will maintain the back pressure and continue to fill at a stead rate.

    We made a lame video of our first test bottling from a 1/2 barrel keg if you are interested. The original frame was painted wood. We are making it out of stainless now.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ikKnYwKtjA

    Why bottling on a nano scale?
    It is more work to bottle, but it is the only way I could figure out how to make a profit on such a small scale. I visited small breweries who kegged only and they barely covered expenses. We make a profit and pay 5 full-time employees on just a little under 4 barrels of production a week and our goal is only 8 barrels a week.

    I hate kegging because the kegs are expensive and you have to fight to even get a tap because there are way more beers than taps. Also you take a risk of a financial loss every time you drop off a keg. I don't know about everybody else, but the keg deposit will not replace the keg.

    We are on a couple taps locally, but not to make a profit. We are on a few taps, so I can go out and buy people my beer and talk to them about it. Then they will go buy a bomber bottle of my beer and share it with a friend and tell them how the brewer bought them a beer and told him how he brews it.

    FYI, because I was not able to purchase the bottle filler, I took that money and bought a 9 barrel Bright Tank (Got it on sale from Glacier tanks), three 10 barrel polyethelene cone bottom tanks (From Plastic-Mart.com) and built a 4 barrel brewhouse (hot liquor tank, mash tun and brew kettle, 160 gallons ea). We brew 2 four barrel batches to put 8 barrels of beer in our fermenters. YES it is hard work. The first 4 barrel batch took 18 hours (Growing pains) the last 4 barrel batch took 8 hours, but we hope to get it down to 6 hours eventually. Heating up water and chilling the wort takes longer for 4 barrels that 10 gallons.
    Last edited by johnnymax; 08-05-2012 at 08:06 AM.
    John McKissack
    Texas Big Beer Brewery
    Newton County, Texas

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    134
    Quote Originally Posted by johnnymax
    ... three 10 barrel polyethelene cone bottom tanks (From Plastic-Mart.com)...
    Those tanks are a screaming deal. What's the fitting on the bottom? How do you like them? What's the wall thickness? Do the tops seal well?
    Nat West
    _____________________
    nat@reverendnatshardcider.com
    503-567-2221

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Traverse City, MI, USA
    Posts
    109
    Will this work with 750 ml bottles as well? (looks like it would). For the few times I expect to bottle this year, I think that would be great. For all my diy skills, I am too busy to redesign something like this!
    David

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Vidor, TX, Texas
    Posts
    75
    It will work fine, just build it for that height bottle
    Last edited by johnnymax; 08-05-2012 at 11:33 AM.
    John McKissack
    Texas Big Beer Brewery
    Newton County, Texas

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Vidor, TX, Texas
    Posts
    75
    Quote Originally Posted by revnatscider
    Those tanks are a screaming deal. What's the fitting on the bottom? How do you like them? What's the wall thickness? Do the tops seal well?
    Not sure of the thickness, but they are pretty thick and solid.
    The fitting on the bottom is 2" threaded and I screwed in a 2" tri-clamp fitting.
    I also had them add a 2" fitting for my Racking cane.
    I had a hard time figuring out how to seal them, but a Friend who has a small brewery discovered a silicon gasket that works from stout tanks.
    http://conical-fermenter.com/products/spares/

    I clean with 170 degree 5% caustic (Sodium hydroxide) and sanitize with HOT water.
    I put enough hot water in the fermenter to heat the whole tank up to pasturization temp (with about 30 Gallons) I circulate it through a spray ball I installed in the top.

    I am happy with them, but I want stainless eventually.
    I accidentally pulled a vaccume on one and collapsed it, I learned how not to do that, LOL. If it would have been a stainless tank it would have ruined the tank. The Poly tank is fine.

    They are popular, Many are using them but in secret
    John McKissack
    Texas Big Beer Brewery
    Newton County, Texas

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Vidor, TX, Texas
    Posts
    75
    Here is one of the tanks with about 4 barrels in it
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    John McKissack
    Texas Big Beer Brewery
    Newton County, Texas

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Lexington VA
    Posts
    61

    Nice Filler

    It would be awesome if you could post a list of the parts and where you got them. Half the battle is piecing this stuff together. Even copies of invoices would be useful, I know time is valuable.

    Blue Lab has been using plastic going on 2 years. No issues yet. It's all about sanitation and avoiding scratches. Stainless is in our future though.
    Cheers,
    Bill
    ________________

    Bill Hamilton
    The Brewer/Co-Owner
    Blue Lab Brewing Co.
    Lexington VA

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Vidor, TX, Texas
    Posts
    75
    I will do that, but I should make a new thread in the proper place for the tank.
    John McKissack
    Texas Big Beer Brewery
    Newton County, Texas

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Lexington VA
    Posts
    61
    Quote Originally Posted by johnnymax
    I will do that, but I should make a new thread in the proper place for the tank.
    The tank parts would definitely help. In my haste I failed to mention that the parts list for the 4 head filler would be great. Between Grainger, McMaster etc.. you could spend (and maybe you did) hours looking for the right fittings.
    Bill
    ________________

    Bill Hamilton
    The Brewer/Co-Owner
    Blue Lab Brewing Co.
    Lexington VA

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Vidor, TX, Texas
    Posts
    75
    I spent a lot of time hunting parts, but ended up finding a better deal for one that was already assembled from more beer.
    Then all I had to do was mount them so it would be hands free.
    http://morebeer.com/view_product/182..._Bottle_Filler
    John McKissack
    Texas Big Beer Brewery
    Newton County, Texas

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    178
    Could you please post pictures how did you mount the filler to the stand and how did you do do the bottle holder that you open and close when you load the bottles.

    Thank you

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Vidor, TX, Texas
    Posts
    75
    I just fabricated it up on the fly one afternoon, no plans, but I can take a close up video and show what it is made of and how everything works. Give me a day or two.
    John McKissack
    Texas Big Beer Brewery
    Newton County, Texas

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Chicago, IL, US
    Posts
    176
    we built a similar system using the Morebeer fillers. We mounted the fillers using copper pipe brackets and put them on hinges so you just slide the bottle on then swing it down tight onto a drip tray. We only have three mounted thus far, but can bottle off ~200 gallons of finished beer in 8 hours

    you can see a quick glimpse of our setup here
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10100236980311551

    we are also using the morebeer sparger to rinse the bottles
    Beejay
    Pipeworks Brewing Company

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Vidor, TX, Texas
    Posts
    75
    Beejay, that looks exactly like us on brew day!
    We rinse with the same setup.
    Bottle with basically the same setup.
    Put the bottles back in the original case with a beer label stuck on it.
    Seal it with a tape gun.
    Then we take it straight to the delivery vehicle and off it goes.
    The main difference is that we load them up into the cab of a 4 door pickup truck with a pair of longhorns mounted on stainless roll-bars

    I even have the same shop fan, LOL
    but I am crammed into a 30' x 50' pole-bard
    Last edited by johnnymax; 08-07-2012 at 03:19 PM.
    John McKissack
    Texas Big Beer Brewery
    Newton County, Texas

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    134
    Quote Originally Posted by beejay
    ...then swing it down tight onto a drip tray...
    More details on the drip tray? I watched your movie like 100 times trying to figure it out.
    Nat West
    _____________________
    nat@reverendnatshardcider.com
    503-567-2221

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