Soda Bottle Counter Pressure Filler and Dispenser

My pop bottle counter pressure filler / dispenser is a near-clone of C.D. Pritchard’s Pop Bottle Mini Keg Dispenser.  Ever since switching to kegging I’ve brought my beer to gatherings by the way of a BierMuncher Bottle Filler into 2L pop bottles, but with “heady” beers I’ll make a mess at that critical moment when removing the wand and getting the cap on.

I wanted a method that would let me fill a bottle under more controlled circumstances, and that led me to Pritchard’s design.  The only appreciable difference is that I put a valve and flare fitting on the top of mine so that I could both fill and dispense via the device.

Build

Here’s an overall view of the assembly.  In the photo it’s fitted onto a 500mL bottle so it looks a bit ridiculous.

Complete

From bottom up here are the parts & descriptions:

  • Dip tube: 1/4″ OD soft copper tube
  • 1/8″ brass lock nut
  • 3/8″ ID, 5/8″ OD rubber grommet
  • 1/8″ brass street elbow
  • Service valve: Universal Service Valve (#B10-734) from Johnstone Supply
  • 1/4″ compression -> 1/4″ MPT fitting
  • 1/4″ ball valve
  • 1/4″ MPT -> 1/4″ flare fitting

Here’s a closeup of the elbow and service valve.  To accommodate the dip tube I drilled a 1/4″ hole up through the bottom of the elbow.  I then soldered the top “joint” using lead-free flux & solder.

Top of Cap
Top of Cap

The underside of the cap showing the locknut and thread tape.  When shoved onto the male end of the street fitting the grommet gets expanded a bit so I used a 1/2″ hole punched in the cap instead of 3/8″.  The grommet does a great job of sealing the hole, the bottle passed an underwater bubble test holding 25psi.

Underside of Cap
Underside of Cap

Here’s what I use to fill the bottle with CO2, a Thumbscrew Core Depressor (#H24-849) also from Johnstone Supply.  When purging I’ll go through the top port because it injects gas from the bottom up, and when topping off a filled bottle I’ll use the side port.  This is tee’d off of my CO2 regulator.

Service Value and Core Depressor
Service Value and Core Depressor

Not pictured is a beer line “jumper” which is a piece of 3/16″ beverage tube with 1/4″ flare swivel nuts on each end.  One end is attached to a liquid-out disconnect while the other is attached to the tap cap.

Usage

Filling

The first thing I do is to purge the bottle with CO2.   I’ll tightly screw on the cap and attache the gas line to the top port and open the main valve.  Then by tweaking the side port valve I’ll let a few seconds worth of gas escape, and then close the valve and detach the gas line.

Next the beer line is attached and the valve opened.  A small amount of beer will flow into the bottle and then stop because the pressure between the keg & bottle has equalized.  By pushing in the side valve pressure in the bottle is lowered and the beer will slowly fill the bottle.  It will foam up somewhat because it’s being agitated and warmed, but not to a great extent.  When a bit of of foam escapes the side valve I’ll let the side valve close, and the finish the process by closing the top valve and disconnecting everything.  For good measure I’ll then apply a shot of 20psi gas to the side port.

Dispensing

The 1/4″ flare threads on the side port let me attach this to any CO2 tank including one of those keg chargers.  The same 1/4″ flare fitting on the top lets me attach a picnic tap thus making the pop bottle into a mini keg.  However this is a lot of fuss and I predict that in most circumstances I’ll simply take the tap cap off the bottle and pour.

Future Improvements

I dislike the large ball valve on top, something rated to 150psi certainly isn’t needed for this project.  A small plastic valve would best.  An alternative to the valve would be to use a ball lock fitting.  Its integrated check valve would perfectly replace the manual ball valve, but would require me to use a ball quick disconnect on the gas line for purging purposes, which would then require a second ball post on the gas in port.  A ball post plus flare adapter runs about $20, so another $40 on a tool used to put beer in a pop bottle isn’t worth it.

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2 thoughts on “Soda Bottle Counter Pressure Filler and Dispenser

  1. Hi,

    This is almost exactly what I’ve been looking for. I have a 5lb co2 tank and I bought a carbonater cap. So I tried to carbonate a 2 liter bottle, and it seems to work ok, except once I open the bottle to pour the first glass, it goes flat pretty quick, so I have to keep re-carbonating it every time basically.

    This would be really cool if I could carbonate the water and then dispense it out while maintaining co2 pressure by keeping it connected to the tank.

    The best for me would be if the connectors were ball-lock connectors, cause that’s the only ones I have for my tank now.

    Let me know if there is any chance you can build that.

  2. I like it! I would like to point out one thing, though. It is supposed to be bad mojo to have copper or copper alloys (brass) in contract with carbonated water. It creates something (Carbonic Acid?) that can or will make you sick. If you will look at the tube that goes into your bottle, you will see that there is some kind of corrosion going on from the darker color and perhaps I’m seeing some roughness. When researching online just what you have achieved, I ran across this problem. Do a search on copper and carbonated water. Regards–Michael

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