There are only so many pieces of brewing equipment that we would label absolutely essential and a bottle filler for your beer once it’s been brewed is one of them. We would argue that one of the greatest joys in a brewer’s journey is being able to bottle their homebrewed beer and enter it into a competition or simply share it with friends and family. We brew beer not only because we love it, but also because we love the community and friendships around it. And the easiest way to share it is to bottle it!
Bottling beer presents a unique set of challenges for the brewer since most of us are brewing at home and don’t have the luxury of commercial equipment. This leaves us with bottle fillers designed for home use that can make this otherwise tedious process manageable. The two most popular types available to homebrewers are counter-pressure bottle fillers and beer guns. But there are a few unique models that we will feature as well. Each one presents its own set of unique advantages and disadvantages when it comes to bottling which we will cover in detail, as well as some of our favorite models on the market.
In a Hurry? Here are Our Top Choices
If you aren’t interested in the details of each bottle filler type, just take a look at our reviews so you can buy your beer filler system with confidence. If you are, check out our guide below the reviews and learn which one might be right for you and your homebrew setup.
The Last Straw Stainless Steel Bottle Filler Beer Gun for Bottling Keg Beer
The Last Straw bottle filler is another entry from our friends at Northern Brewer and is the most popular and well-reviewed bottle filler on our list. Unlike the counter-pressure fillers on our list, the Last Straw falls in the category of a “beer gun” and only requires one person to operate. While there are certainly other beer guns on the market, this is the most thought out and well-designed offering available to consumers.
In our time with it, we came to really appreciate the superior control over the carbonation levels when bottling directly from the keg with it. All you have to worry about is dialing in the proper psi, proceed to force carbonate your beer, and enjoy the sediment-free, perfectly carbonated end result. We have tested many different bottler fillers and while a lot of them produce that commercial level of mouthfeel in terms of carbonation, the Last Straw is by far the most simple operate. The ergonomic handle makes it very easy to hold and makes for very intuitive, and more importantly, one-handed operation of the filler. Each bottle took about 15 seconds to fill which is just as fast as many pieces of commercial equipment. When it came time to clean it, the filler came apart quickly and taking care of it was pleasantly fast. We also appreciate that many of the parts are made from materials like silicone or stainless so the risk of contamination is almost none as long as its properly cared for.
When looking at the price, ease of use and overwhelmingly positive reviews, The Last Straw is an easy recommendation in our book as we love how it makes bottling beer a one-man job.
- Ergonomic, one-handed operation.
- Includes everything you need to operate.
- Silicone and stainless parts to prevent contamination.
- Precision control over the CO2 levels.
- Very easy to take apart and clean.
- It takes some practice to avoid excess foam.
- Usually need to bleed your keg of pressure some to prevent foaming.
WilliamsWarn Counter Pressure Bottle Filler
WilliamsWarn is famous in the beer industry for their innovations that completely turned homebrewing on its head. In 2011 after realizing a large percentage of people quit brewing beer after starting the hobby, they introduced the technology that allowed homebrewers to own their very own small-scale brewery at home. WilliamsWarn’s unique line of incredibly design products simplify and streamline the process of making great beer, and their counter-pressure bottle filler is one of these amazing leaps forward in homebrewing.
The WilliamWarn bottle filler offers true counter-pressure bottle (CPB) filling with no overflow of CO2. While other bottle fillers systems can take a bit of time to handle large amounts of beer, once you become familiar with the setup you can bottle a large 5-gallon keg in about 30 minutes. This kind of efficiency was unheard of before WilliamsWarn introduced this product and its one of the reasons it’s a favorite of ours.
The filler features an adjustable height and can easily accommodate bottles up to 14.5” tall and growlers 5.75” in diameter. This versatility makes it an asset to any home brewing setup. Like all counter pressure bottlers, the WilliamsWarn CPB will allow you to pressurize your bottle with C02 before filling which creates a layer to eliminate oxidation and protect the flavor of your beer. Despite its more expensive price tag and minor design flaws, the WilliamsWarn bottler is an exceptional piece of homebrew equipment that will deliver the perfect beer every time.
- Very fast and efficient bottling.
- Perfect C02 pressure.
- State of the art technology and construction.
- Adjustable height for all sizes bottles.
- Instructional videos available online.
- The suction cup feet don’t work well on some surfaces.
The weight of the bottler sits behind the filler so without the suction is can be unstable. We remedied this by mounting it to a wall that solves both these problems.
Blichmann BeerGun Stainless Bottle Filler & Accessory Kit
Blichmann is a unique company in the world of beer brewing in that they are engineers before anything else. And since they make products for beer and wine retailers, their offerings are highly engineered, intuitively designed, and innovative with a high standard of quality and performance. For these reasons, they make some of our favorite products on the market and the BeerGun is up there on the top of our list.
In 2005, they released the BeerGun in response to the feeling that traditional counter-pressure bottle fillers had become too expensive and too difficult to operate efficiently. Soon after it’s release, we started hearing about it everywhere and the BeerGun quickly became a favorite amongst homebrewers looking to fill their beer bottles with zero hassle. Blichmann is constantly incorporating customer feedback into the BeerGun and it has seen several new and improved versions over the years. With each new release, the BeerGun becomes simpler to use and easier to clean.
The BeerGun is a truly one-handed product that features an ergonomic handle and thumb actuated CO2 valve that makes dialing it up or down effortless and precise. Like the Last Straw, any part that comes in contact with beer is constructed from anti-microbial material which will greatly reduce any risk of contamination. The BeerGun handles the problem of foaming by removing the need to pressurize the bottle before filling with its patented system. The valve is placed at the bottom of the filler stem, which immerses the valve in the beer and reduces pressure changes, greatly limiting the amount of foam produced. The list of design innovations is long and we could go one for a while, but just trust us when we say that the BeerGun is probably the last bottler filler you’ll ever need.
- Designed by engineers.
- Accessory kit included standard.
- Positively retained beer tip.
- Made from anti-microbial materials.
- Easy to clean and comes with a sturdy case for storage.
- Thumb actuated CO2 valve.
- You need to be careful with the tip as it has a tendency to come out.
- We had to lower the keg to about 5 psi to prevent aggressive foaming.
Midwest Homebrewing and Winemaking Supplies Counter Pressure Bottle Filler
Midwest Homebrewing is another name that has become synonymous with great products and great information. They are a company that we turn to frequently when we are in need of an equipment upgrade and their customer service and satisfaction ratings couldn’t be higher. Any time we have had a problem with one of their products (which isn’t often, but hey, things happen) their availability and response times have been excellent. This gives us a lot of confidence when recommending their counter-pressure bottling filler because we know it was built by brewers that care for brewers that love good beer.
After the quick set up process, the counter-pressure bottle filler creates a pressurized atmosphere eliminating almost all of the foam created by the bottling process, allowing you to bottle efficiently and not have to work around excess foam or spillage. It connects quickly to most keg systems, which is an added bonus as many fillers are very particular about which kegs they will work with. In our tests with it, we are able to bottle about 20 cases of beer in an hour, which is incredible for a bottler in this price range. When considering how much it costs, and the customer satisfaction guarantee offered by Midwest, this bottle filler is one of our go-to recommendations for newer homebrewers looking to start storing their beer in bottles.
- Easy to use and clean.
- Low price point.
- Quality construction backed by a customer satisfaction guarantee.
- Easy to follow detailed instructions.
- Requires hose and fittings, sold separately.
- Some have reported problems with the bottle stopper being too small.
In this section, we are going to cover in more detail how each bottle filler works, and what the advantages of each one are.
How Do Counter Pressure Bottle Fillers Work?
A CPBF is commonly used by commercial brewers and homebrewers to fill beer bottles from a pressurized source such as a keg. They generally all work the same and consist of a tube that flows beer into the bottle and utilize a stopper seal to stop the beer from overflowing. There are always going to be two inputs, one line for the C02 and the other for the beer coming from the keg. When purchasing a counter pressure filler, the C02 has to be purchased separately. The system works by making sure the C02 pressure is being consistently applied to the beer as it moves from keg to bottle.
The operation of the counter-pressure filler is simple. It pumps C02 into the bottle to remove the oxygen from the bottle which is released from a valve in the top. This serves the dual purpose of bringing the bottle up to bottling pressure. The C02 valve is then closed and the beer valve is opened. The beer slowly replaces the C02 and the beer valve is then closed when the bottle is filled.
How Do Beer Guns Work?
Beer Guns work much the same way as to counter pressure fillers in terms of adding C02 to the bottle and replacing it with beer. The main difference is the ease of use and time needed to bottle. You simply insert the beer gun into the bottle and inject C02 to displace the oxygen in the bottle. Once that’s completed, flood the bottle with beer as quickly as possible to the top of the bottle to prevent excess foaming.
Counter Pressure Bottle Fillers vs Beer Guns
The main difference between the two is the ease of use and size. For years before the beer gun was introduced, counter pressure was your only option. Most tend to be large and cumbersome to operate. And while it is still a good option with the right filler, the beer guns were created primarily as a response to expensive and clunky counter-pressure fillers available to consumers. Beer guns can easily be operated by one person with one hand operating the filler and the other holding the beer. Many counter pressure systems require two people to handle bottling efficiently.
Another added benefit of the beer gun is that you don’t need to bottle from a pressurized keg. This means that you can also use it to bottle wine from a fermenter or other liquids, which extends its value in our eyes. If you are going to bottle from a fermenter, it’s a good idea to use a shorter hose to fill the beer, as there is less pressure available to push it through to the bottle. Beer guns can also be easier to take apart and clean as most of them are made with anti-microbial components.
Our Final Thoughts
Overall, we prefer beer guns and tend to recommend them more often. However, a counter pressure system is still the best choice for some homebrewers, especially those bottling large amounts of beer and requiring a more dedicated setup.
If you are on the fence, just know that we only recommend products that we use and would tell our friends or family to buy, so anything on our list is going to have you bottling your beer efficiently.