For Sale: Champagne Bottle Manifold ($100USD)

Also view the more advanced keg to bottle liquid transfer version here.

December 8th, 2012

PATENT PENDING

SAFETY DISCLAIMER: USE THIS HIGH PRESSURE PNEUMATICS PRODUCT AT YOUR OWN RISK. WE ARE NOT LIABLE FOR ANY INJURY INCURRED BY THE USE OF OUR PRODUCT. ALWAYS WEAR SAFETY GOGGLES WHEN USING THE MANIFOLD. USE ONLY BOTTLES RATED FOR THE PRESSURE YOUR REGULATOR IS SET AT. DO NOT SET YOUR REGULATOR HIGHER THAN 60 PSI OR RISK WILL ESCALATE. BEWARE OF OUR SEDUCTIVE DESIGN AND MARKETING, THIS PRODUCT IS DANGEROUS AND SHOULD ONLY BE USED BY THOSE THAT FULLY UNDERSTAND THE RISKS. DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE BEFORE YOU OPERATE THIS PRODUCT.

Please re-read the above disclaimer if you missed it.

Bostonapothecary is proud to introduce the holy grail of carbonation equipment, the Champagne bottle manifold.




The manifold is a conduit for connecting a gas supply to a Champagne bottle. But why would you want to do that?

• The manifold allow wine lovers to add counter pressure to their sparkling wines which preserves the bubbles when stored over extended periods.

• Beer brewers can add precise weights of dissolved CO² to beers which is useful when bottling for competitions or exploring different carbonation levels to have every beer show at its best.

• High end beverage programs can carbonate their products in aesthetically pleasing Champagne bottles to dissolved CO² levels as high as 7 g/L.

• Sensory scientists or those involved in new product development will find the manifold indispensable for economically achieving precision levels of dissolved gas for tasting panels.

The manifold features a durable plastic collar that securely clips on to the neck of a Champagne bottle (375 mL, 750 mL, and most 1500 mL). A food safe seal which contains a check valve interacts with the mouth of the bottle. A threaded plug engages the collar and maintains a seal under working pressures as high as 65 PSI. The manifold features industry standard stainless steel Cornelius quick disconnects which are common standards to most home brewers and beverage programs that have adopted cocktail-on-tap equipment. Cornelius quick disconnects contain a seal designed to maintain pressure for extended periods of time. All parts on the manifold are durable but also replaceable to ensure a long life span for your investment.

To be walked through carbonation, counter pressure, and de-aeration please take a look at the manual.

Besides the manifold itself, what new concepts make working with carbonation easier?

Many people think of carbonation in terms of pressure & temperature, and even volumes but carbonation can also be thought of in simpler terms of grams per liter (g/L) of dissolved gas. When we consider the weight of the dissolved CO², we can measure carbonation with equipment as simple as a commercial kitchen scale.

Cold bottles are simply filled with cold liquid, the manifold is attached and initially connected to the gas supply to fill the head space then disconnected (the head space can often hold a few grams of compressed gas), we place the bottle on the kitchen scale and zero. After zeroing, any weight that is added will reflect what is dissolved in the liquid. The gas supply can then be re-attached and CO² will be absorbed by the liquid as the bottle is agitated. The bottle can be periodically detached then re-weighed to see how much CO² has been dissolved in the liquid. Agitating the bottle facilitates the dissolving of the gas; basically you shake the bottle while it is under pressure and connected to the gas supply.

When the gas in the head space is finally released by unscrewing the manifold, oxygen which was dissolved in the liquid is also purged via a phenomenon called reflux de-aeration which is governed by Dalton’s gas law.

To store the product with a desired carbonation level, head space has to be accounted for. Bottles either have to be over carbonated to account for the gas needed to fill the head space if a bottle cap is to be affixed or the bottles will need to be topped up with liquid.

If the task is simply to pressure open sparkling wines, counter pressure of up to 60 PSI, which is more than enough for 5°C chilled Champagne, can be applied near instantaneously. According to researcher Dr. Steve Smith, a lecturer on wine studies at Coventry University, the pressure within a Champagne bottle (filled with 12 g/L of dissolved CO²) can be calculated with the formula: P = T/4.5 + 1 where P is the pressure in atmospheres and T is the temperature in Celsius. At 5°C, the pressure in the bottle is 2.111 atmospheres which converts to approx. 31 PSI.

• Beer brewers work with dissolved CO² levels in and around 4-5.5 g/L which is easy to achieve.

• Soda makers and those producing carbonated cocktails can achieve highly carbonated beverages with dissolved CO² levels as high as 7 g/L in just a few minutes of work per bottle.

• New product developers can easily create a range of dissolve gas levels for usage in tasting panels and bench trials.

Once a bottle has taken on a desired measure of CO² it will have to rest for a while and “bond” with the bottle before the manifold can be removed and a 29 mm crown cap affixed or spring based Champagne stopper attached. Releasing the manifold too quickly can cause foaming and loss of carbonation. The more the dissolved CO², the longer the time needed to bond. For soda makers or those requiring very high levels of carbonation, we recommend using numerous manifolds in a series so that active time spent carbonating can be as continuous as possible.

What are the advantage over other systems? The Bostonapothecary Champagne Bottle Manifold has the two fold advantage over competitors in that it is both more effective and more economical than any other product on the market.

Competing direct bottle manifolds exist for plastic soda bottles but none in my research held a seal as well. Soda bottles also cannot compete with the aesthetics of glass Champagne bottles. Fitting a Champagne bottle gives the manifold versatility because it can both carbonate, de-aerate or simply apply counter pressure. Others systems rely on going from keg to bottle and besides the cost and large footprint of the equipment, they lack the precision, the upward range of CO² levels, and some require a significant amount of down time under high pressure operation for the bottle to bond with the gas. Many large volume, high pressure users of the legendary Melvico counter pressure bottler needed an array of the machines to minimize down time and keep active bottling as continuous as possible which greatly magnified the expense. The Bostonapothecary Manifold requires active time agitating the bottle to absorb gas, but saves significant time by a lack of intensive setup, break down, and cleaning that keg to bottle systems require.

SAFETY DISCLAIMER: USE THIS HIGH PRESSURE PNEUMATICS PRODUCT AT YOUR OWN RISK. WE ARE NOT LIABLE FOR ANY INJURY INCURRED BY THE USE OF OUR PRODUCT. ALWAYS WEAR SAFETY GOGGLES WHEN USING THE MANIFOLD. USE ONLY BOTTLES RATED FOR THE PRESSURE YOUR REGULATOR IS SET AT. DO NOT SET YOUR REGULATOR HIGHER THAN 60 PSI OR RISK WILL ESCALATE. BEWARE OF OUR SEDUCTIVE DESIGN AND MARKETING, THIS PRODUCT IS DANGEROUS AND SHOULD ONLY BE USED BY THOSE THAT FULLY UNDERSTAND THE RISKS. DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE BEFORE YOU OPERATE THIS PRODUCT.




Additional information on safety: I have repeatedly tested this product and never had a bottle failure. Champagne bottles are designed to withstand huge amounts of pressure. The best Champagnes have 12 g/L of dissolved gas and can be under 80 PSI of pressure at 20°C (68°F). I imagine many bottles are even shipped on hot days where the pressure must get well over 100 PSI, therefore operating at 60 PSI is less than half the maximum pressure (using Dr. Smith’s formula, if true Champagne is stored outside or in a delivery truck on a 100°F day the pressure in the bottle is 139 PSI). Champagne bottles are heavier than Prosecco or Cava bottles because Champagne contains more dissolved gas. In my research I could not find statistics on maximum pressure before bottle failure. All information on liability only mentions getting hit in the eye with a cork which is also a risk with the manifold so safety glasses should always be worn. Room temperature Champagne bottles have been known to fall to the floor at the hands of outdoor caterers on summer days in Phoenix Arizona (139 PSI!). Sometimes the bottles survive and to my knowledge the caterer always survives. It has even been explained to me by no official source that bottles are designed to fail at the punt. I encourage all opinions of the product’s safety to be expressed in the comments.

Measure Carbonation with your Kitchen Scale!

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[This is a very old post and I’ve learned so much since. I’d either explore the Carbonation time line or jump to taking a look at the Champagne Bottle Manifold.]

A few months back in the summer I wrote a post called new ways of thinking about carbonation where I started to explore carbonation in terms of grams per liter of dissolved gas instead of pressure and temperature. I set up quite a few projects and so far have been slowly crawling through them.

The first project to be tackled asked this question: Can I easily weigh the gas I add with my car valve carbonator to know how sparkling I am?

I was turned onto the car valve carbonator by the folks at the Milwaukee Maker Space. It is basically a soda bottle with a hole drilled in the cap and a replacement tire valve affixed to the hole.  It is an astoundingly cheap and easy way to carbonate.  you then a get a tire filler and attache it to your gas supply.  set your regulator to 50 PSI and then inject some gas and shake to facilitate dissolving. [it turns out these valves have lead in them and I abandoned using them. I now only use the tap cap and my Champagne Bottle Manifold.]

We used 20 oz. soda bottles that were filled with 500 mL of liquid.  The filled bottle was placed on a kitchen scale and zeroed then we weighed after each injection.  We were easily able to add 3.5 grams (7 grams per liter!) to our bottle.  We then put it in the fridge to rest and come to equilibrium so it didn’t gush when opened too quickly. [I think when I did this I was not accounting for what was in the head space which has a significant weight that can be accounted for by zeroing. Newer things I’ve written explain the process much more clearly.]

What is awesome about this is that you don’t have to taste as you go, you can learn what 7 g/L tastes like and then keep all your numerous bottles consistent. A jigger for carbonation and its as simple as a kitchen scale!

What I’m really bent on is doing this with champagne bottles or those tiny San Bitter soda bottles. I won’t be impressed until I get perfect carbonation and an elegant delivery.  Luckily my champagne bottle manifold works well now that my plastic foundry skills have grown.  I also discovered a stainless 19/32-18 to 1/4MPT thread adapter that will allow me to put Cornelius quick release fittings on top of my manifold! The same link also has a 19/32-18 adapter that goes on a 1/4 male flare fitting so you can combine it with a draft tail piece and put a Cornelius quick release on a soda siphon (I know a picture would be worth a thousand words). For a busy bar, the fittings will pay for themselves in a few weeks!

The next thing I wanted to tackle is how much gas actually goes in a soda siphon when you charge it with a 8 gram cartridge.  I’m equipped to do this.  I’ll have to charge up the siphon, zero the scale, then unscrew the cartridge but leave it on the scale and see how much weight was left trapped in the cylinder. Then I can unscrew the top of the siphon and see the weight of the gas that escapes. Then I’ll know how many g/L of gas made it into the water. I should probably also weight the cartridge to actually see how full it was.

This information will let us know how much dissolved gas we should put in our soda if we want them to compare to classic siphon made versions.

We can also see how much gas is lost to the turbulence of going through the siphon.  For that I’ll use the Carbodoseur tool that my new favorite commenter Julia mentioned. They are typically expensive but I was lucky enough to acquire a new one very cheap on ebay.

There is more to be done but I’m off to work.

[I never followed through with exploring the soda siphon because the Champagne bottle manifold was so successful. I eventually even built cradles that allow me to fill 100 mL San Bitter bottles as well as 187 mL & 200 mL bottles. Ideas developed quickly from here and I recommend checking out my Carbonation time line.]

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Advanced Kegging Basics

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I used to work in a restaurant with horribly impractical draft and soda systems that functioned like voodoo. I ended up with a lot of regrets about not understanding the systems and how to tune and clean them.  Slowly I realized that if I ever worked in a winery, brewery, or distillery (which I aspire to) I would need a thorough understanding of kegging because they are constantly used for utility purposes.  In beverage production, kegs are used for storing product in oxygen free environments, pressure filtration, topping barrels, and dispensing cleaning chemicals. Poking around the web you find that countless industries use Cornelius style kegs to dispense oils and chemicals).

Everybody seems to use utility kegging except restaurants and bars which strikes me as strange since they use beer kegs. What also strikes me as strange is that restaurant culture has absorbed so much knowledge of craft beer and wine (terroir, how it is made etc…), but never soaked up any winery/brewery wisdom on sanitation or dispensing technique. Very few bars have properly calibrated soda guns yet doing it is extremely simple with a brix cup, syrup separator and flat head screw driver. Bar tonic water might not suck as bad as it does if it were properly calibrated. Near every bar I’ve ever worked in has dirty fridges and unsanitary draft systems. People that clean taps for a living have told me that they won’t drink draft beer from their own clients. When someone changes a keg without sanitizing connectors in a contaminated environment it is like coughing on someone with bubonic plaque. It would never happen in a winery or brewery yet the final market place seems to be oblivious.

Well, I can no longer be ignorant and will make best efforts to set a good example wherever I work. On to the fun stuff…

Cornelius kegs can theoretically (I’m working on proving it) be integrated into a restaurant program in a variety of ways. Used 5 gallon kegs can be acquired at times for free and often as cheaply as $20. New seals and fittings don’t cost too much more and restaurants usually have tons of spare gas tanks around.

For unpredictable, high volume applications kegs can be used to store fresh juices, quickly purged of oxygen in a spatially efficient format. The restaurant I just started at juices its own cranberries and at its best it can taste incredible but it doesn’t seem to get sold at a consistent pace and often oxidizes. Making small batches frequently as a solution can be uneconomical. The cranberry juice, which we make a couple gallons at a time, could simply be put into a keg and purged of oxygen in mere seconds. A cheap plastic “cobra” faucet could dispense it in the walk-in to our squeeze bottles without making a mess like we usually do. I’m really curious to test it, but the same could be done for notoriously perishable lemon and lime juice. Lemons and limes oxidize incredibly fast and can turn to “pine-sol” over night. Erratically high volume bars could potentially juice for a couple days if they could store their juice oxygen free. Purging as you add every quart could possibly prevent enough oxygen absorption that you could safely keep on hand 5 gallons of lemon juice say for a massive event taking place the next day (it remains to be tested [finally tested!]). In tight quarters, a pastry department could dispense a beautifully un-oxidized fruit soup at large and unpredictable volumes (kegging will only prevent oxidation, not eventual fermentation from wild yeasts).

EDITED TO ADD: KEGGING WILL NOT PREVENT ENZYMATIC BITTERING WHICH IS THE SECOND SCOURGE OF CITRUS JUICES. [ACTUALLY IT IS OFTEN CHARMING]

The next application is pressure filtration which has been developed for home brewing. Many restaurants now sell massive volumes of house made liqueurs and infused spirits that can benefit from “polishing”. Buchner funnels are small and expensive rivaling the price of a Cornelius keg filter setup. Chefs could possibly also use filtration for delicate waters and consommes. What needs to be tested is how well the filters can handle pectin which often destroys a wine filter by clogging it. [NOW A DAYS YOU CAN ALSO USE PECTIC ENZYZMES!]

The next thing that can be done with a Cornelius keg is filling it with syrup or concentrate and integrating it into a “wonder bar” soda gun instead of a typical bag in the box. The syrup can either go to a free water or a free soda water channel. Unfortunately the kegs contents have to be either blended with water or soda water at a ratio near 5 to 1. I don’t even think you can get as low as 2 to 1 because the screw that adjust the syrup will leak and potentially pop out creating a serious mess so you could never have a margarita dispensed from a typical soda gun. You would need a separate rig, which does exist, for the night club industry.

The most elaborate and impressive thing a Cornelius keg can do is force carbonate which dissolves C02 into a liquid which can either be dispensed on draft or counter pressure bottle filled into a beer or champagne bottle and capped. The possibilities of the technology are mind blowing but its easier said than done and you need a few hundred dollars worth of specialty parts.

Besides being clean, pressurized draft systems have to be “balanced” which means that what you serve has to be able to come out of the tap without foaming to death. The right pressure and spout for the right beer and most importantly in between, the right hose. The walls of the hose resist the liquid passing over it effecting whether CO2 comes out of solution or not. The resistance is relative to the material and the length of the hose and should be slightly less than your PSI. (I’m regurgitating this, I really haven’t figured it all out). Soda and force carbonated wine exist in pressures far beyond beer and I’m not sure if common home brew equipment scales up high enough.

EDITED TO ADD: EVERY PROSECCO I’VE EVER HAD ON TAP HAS SUCKED AND HAS BEEN BARELY CARBONATED.  UNLESS YOU TRULY UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE DOING DO NOT TRY IT AND WASTE OUR PRECIOUS DINING DOLLARS.

Ginger beer exists at beer pressures and I’m sure can be bottled easily enough, the tart and brut hibiscus soda of my dreams exists at champagne pressures and I’m sure is a trick to get into the bottle. Something else that is theoretically possible is to do something with distressed wines on the market. Many distributors have white wine that is too old. Some whites become frail and sickly (universally dead) while others just become so nutty they are obnoxious and one dimensional after they have lost their fruit contrast; desirable flavors in a sparkler. Trade the fruit for bubbles and you have got something interesting enough to drink. Let it sit under pressure long enough and I’m sure the bubbles will be of champagne quality (what you hear about champagne method bubbles being superior is likely BS). I’ve seen some great wines out there like vintage 2000 Grechetto sold for $2/750ml. The wine was liquid hazelnuts and would be a shame to see it go down the drain (60 cases).

These are all just ideas I’m slowly going to develop and test. I’d love to hear of any one else’s experiences with the technology.

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