Written by Will Trice for the AHA
Which is better, bottling or kegging? It’s one of the great homebrew debates, right up there with extract vs. all-grain and batch sparging vs. fly sparging. Both bottling and kegging have their advantages and disadvantages, and both can be onerous at times. Peeling labels off of used bottles is one of the worst tasks in homebrewing. But in the frustration department, finding a CO2 leak in your system when the beer is already in the keg is right up there.
I find that most homebrewers are strongly in one camp or the other. But I straddle the line, happily kegging or bottling each batch as my mood and circumstances guide me. And to be honest, I actually enjoy the bottling process more than kegging because I have found the five paths to bottling nirvana. But this wasn’t always the case.
Seventeen years ago, after just my third time homebrewing, I went out and bought a humongous, 1960s era, avocado green refrigerator and a very used CO2 bottle. Add to that a few used soda kegs, some fittings, hoses, and a picnic tap, and I was out of the bottling business for good. I hated bottling—the sanitizing, the filling, the capping. The chore of bottling was way more effort than I was willing to put into even this, the most satisfying of hobbies.