A lot of people hate bottling, I don’t hate it, but it’s not something I enjoy. The actual bottling expierence itself isn’t too bad, and it’s not much more time consuming than kegging. There are extra steps, and you have yeast sentiment at the bottom of your bottle conditioned beer. You also have the additional time from grain to glass. The part I hate the most time is getting bottles clean and ready for bottling. I don’t buy them new, I give away a most of the beer I do bottle, so I have to wash, relabel and reuse commercial beer bottles. I try to do this when I’m drinking, but I still need to take some additional time to scrub before they are ready. It takes a lot of time for me, and I’ve said before time is not something I have a lot of.
As for cons of the beer gun, it’s expensive. The base gun is about $75 retail, and for the beer gun towork with most setups, you need the gun and the accessory kit, which brings the total to over $100. It also appears to be a slight design issue with the rubber tip that is used to stop beer from flowing has an odd habit of falling of while filling a bottle. This causes you to both be unable to stop the beer flowing, and causing you to have to empty a just filled bottle. I’ve also heard that some folks have had inconstant carbonation using it. I’ve filled a few cases so far, and haven’t seen any issues with the beer I’ve bottled. No oxidation issues, or under/ flat bottles. I can’t say how it compares to a counter pressure bottle filler since I haven’t tried one. From what I can tell about using them there is no way it’s easier to use than the beer gun. If you keg your homebrew, but still need to fill bottles, I can say this is a good option.I keg most of my beer, and it has cut down the amount of bottles I fill. I do still need to bottle occasionally. Bottling from a keg is actually more of a pain than bottle conditioning. You have to worry about trying to keep the carbonation in the beer while preventing oxidation. There are some diy methods to fill from a keg, and initially I tried to bottle using a party tap with a bottling wand. It worked, but I was loosing a ton of beer to foam, not getting consistent carbonation or fill level. It was fine for bringing a beer to a party, or sharing beers with friends, but it wouldn’t leave beer stable. Not good for competition bottling, or longer term storage. I’ve also tried filling growers directly off the tap, which is also has very poor stability. My solution was to ask for a Blichmann Beer gun this past christmas. It’s made bottling a much less painful task. The gun itself is extremely simple to use. It often takes takes longer to setup than it does to fill bottles. The concept is easy, you use c02 to purge your bottles to limit oxidation. Then pull the trigger, and slowly fill the bottle with carbonated beer. The beer is quiescently filled, the serving pressure is held back by the high resistance in the narrow beer line used to connect the gun. The beer pours kinda slowly, with minimal foaming, you can then blow some co2 into the head space, and cap on foam. Dead simple.
An other use of the beer gun I’ve heard is to use the beer gun to fill bottles for bottle conditioning. You follow your normal routine of bottling, except you mix your priming sugar and uncarbonated beer in a keg instead of a bottling bucket. Purge the keg and put under minimal pressure, then use co2 to push beer into bottles, and condition as normal. The advantage would be that you can bottle condition with minimal o2 exposure. It’s a technique I plan on using in the future.
I have bottled with the gun both ways…carbing in keg and pushing beer and priming mixture into bottles. Both have worked very well. I prefer to bottle condition from the keg b/c you can take your time and minimize the exposure to Oxygen. Just be sure to properly mix the beer and solution. I give the keg a couple rolls on the ground.