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General Category => Kegging and Bottling => Topic started by: the_pig on July 31, 2012, 09:40:29 AM

Title: Some very basic kegging questions
Post by: the_pig on July 31, 2012, 09:40:29 AM
Hi Everyone:

I've been homebrewing for a while, but just discovered the AHA and I am a new member.  This is my first forum post.

I'm interested in getting some kegging equipment and trying that out (instead of bottling).  But I'm a little overwhelmed by the choices (pin locks, ball locks, etc.)  Is there a place on the AHA site that has some basic info./guidance for the "kegging curious."  (I may well have missed an obvious FAQ on this topic - if so, sorry!)

Otherwise, if any of you have the time, I would really appreciate any advice - i.e. which locking system is preferable?  what equipment is really necessary to start out?  where's the best place to get equipment? etc.

Thanks!

Title: Re: Some very basic kegging questions
Post by: realbeerguy on July 31, 2012, 12:46:24 PM
First, welcome to the forum.  You've come to the right place.

Initial costs may scare you, but remember "Buy once, cry once."  Basic set up will be keg, picnic tap, CO2 bottle, regulator.  Pin lock (Coke keg) or ball lock (Pepsi), it doesnt matter.  If at all possble, choose one or the other so you don't have fitting issues.  If you do mix keg styles, my recommendation is to get fittings with the flare ends, not the hose barb ends.  Makes it easy for change out.   I have both style kegs, so I have flares on my fittings and hoses.  When buying used kegs, clean with PBW, replace the lid, post and diptube o-rings.  These should be available from your LHBS.  If you need bulk, the o-rings are also available from Mc Master-Carr (no affiliation).  A spare refrigerator will get you started with the above set up.  Check out the CO2 suppliers in your area.  Mine only does a bottle swap, so it may be more cost effective to buy the CO2 bottle from them and the rest from another source.  Statring out, get a 5# CO2,  however you may find that once you get into kegging a 20# is more cost effective.

Hope this helps get you statred. 
Title: Re: Some very basic kegging questions
Post by: Jimmy K on July 31, 2012, 01:05:07 PM
Ball lock seems to be more popular, but I think this is mostly because that's what most people have - so that's what most people want. Neither works better than another, but if you have pin lock and your friends have ball lock it is harder to bring your keg to a party.
 
These days Pepsi ball lock kegs are getting scarce and more expensive. Pin lock kegs may cost 1/2 what a pepsi keg costs. There are also companies converting Coke (pin-lock) kegs from pin lock to ball lock to meet demand. The only difference is that Coke kegs are slightly shorter and fatter than Pepsi kegs.
 
Many shops sell through Amazon now. I've found really good deals on kegging supplies there.
 
Kegging is just so easy - imagine racking into your bottling bucket, but instead of bottling - you're done.
Title: Re: Some very basic kegging questions
Post by: the_pig on July 31, 2012, 04:08:52 PM
Thanks for the replies (and the welcome!).  Good to know that while the pin and ball lock systems are incompatable, they are both good. 

I've seen several "complete" 5 gal. systems for sale online for approx. $180 which doesn't sound too bad.  I would have to locate a source for the co2, but I'm in a city so that shouldn't be too hard. 

Do you guys recommend starting out with a "complete" system (to make sure you have everything)?  Or would you simply pick up a keg and fill in the blanks?

Once again - thanks for the advice!
Title: Re: Some very basic kegging questions
Post by: Jimmy K on July 31, 2012, 04:21:46 PM
One note, the only incompatible pieces b/t ball and pin lock are the disconnects. All other parts (taps, tubes, etc) are the same.
 
I got a complete setup for 1 keg when I started, partly because it was a present and easier to tell family to get that one item than a bunch of components. It is good to start if you're not familiar because you get all the parts - no worries.  The price is OK campared to piecemeal, but probably not the absolute best you can do if you shop around.
 
Craigslist has some really good deals if you are patient.
Title: Re: Some very basic kegging questions
Post by: bluesman on July 31, 2012, 04:36:15 PM
Here's a great manual to help educate.

http://www.kegworks.com/faqs/Draft-Beer-Quality-Manual.pdf
Title: Re: Some very basic kegging questions
Post by: the_pig on July 31, 2012, 08:14:05 PM
Thanks again - great info.  The "Draft Beer Quality Manual" looks very interesting.  I will take a look through this evening.
Title: Re: Some very basic kegging questions
Post by: denny on July 31, 2012, 08:17:13 PM
This kegging info is what I learned from...

http://web.archive.org/web/20061113163320/http://www.bodensatz.com/staticpages/index.php?page=Soda-Kegs
Title: Re: Some very basic kegging questions
Post by: boapiu on August 01, 2012, 11:23:32 AM
I looked at the 'bodensatz' link and it is very thorough. Might I suggest your local home brew club for a hands on demo of a keg set up? Also, I second verifying that you can have your tank refilled vice traded before you buy a shiny new aluminum tank only to get an old banged up steel one in exchange. I have purchased from the following without complaint

http://stores.kegconnection.com/StoreFront.bok -for keg parts

https://coppertubingsales.com/storefront/index.php - for regulator
Title: Re: Some very basic kegging questions
Post by: the_pig on August 01, 2012, 02:34:14 PM
Wow - great info. - thanks.

I've read over the 'bodensatz' piece and will read it again.  Lots of info.

And thanks for the links to suppliers.  I agree with the local club suggestion.  I have sent them an e-mail asking to get on the distribution list for meeting times, and I hope to attend the next one.
Title: Re: Some very basic kegging questions
Post by: gmac on August 05, 2012, 02:03:26 AM
I get my CO2 re-filled at my local fire safety supply shop.  Same CO2 that they use in fire extinguishers and no issues with swapping tanks.  Might not seem like an obvious option which is why I'm mentioning it.

I have all ball locks.  Biggest problem for me when I started was getting enough beer line to balance the pressure from the keg.  I practically never bottle and when I do I bottle carbonated beer so no sediment on the bottom which is nice too.
Title: Re: Some very basic kegging questions
Post by: liquidbrewing on August 05, 2012, 03:09:11 PM
Here's my two cents.  I was in Rebel Brewer a few months ago, and one of the guys there told me that used ball locks are going to be out of existence to buy commercially.  Basically only new ball locks will be available soon.  How soon that is, I can't tell you.

I can tell you there's a reason they only sell pin lock to ball lock conversion kits for the posts.  Not the other way around! ::)

FWIW, I'm only buying new ball locks from here on out. 
Title: Re: Some very basic kegging questions
Post by: denny on August 05, 2012, 04:32:56 PM
Here's my two cents.  I was in Rebel Brewer a few months ago, and one of the guys there told me that used ball locks are going to be out of existence to buy commercially.  Basically only new ball locks will be available soon.  How soon that is, I can't tell you.

"They" have been saying that for the last 10 years.  True, in that time the supply has tightened up and the price has risen, but as far as I can see the supply is still out there.
Title: Re: Some very basic kegging questions
Post by: Kaiser on August 05, 2012, 05:56:20 PM
you may also check out this old Zymurgy article: http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/attachments/0000/1312/Summerzym95-Kegging_How-To.pdf

Kai
Title: Re: Some very basic kegging questions
Post by: the_pig on August 06, 2012, 04:45:10 PM
Thanks again to everyone - this is a lot of great info.  I will be shopping for some used kegs soon!
Title: Re: Some very basic kegging questions
Post by: yugamrap on August 17, 2012, 02:57:00 PM
All good posts above.  I didn't notice whether anyone mentioned that the pin-lock kegs are slightly larger in diameter (25" tall x 8 1/2" dia) than ball-lock (22-23" tall x 9" dia).  That can make a difference in how many you can fit in a particular fridge or freezer (height is usually easier to work around.  I have ball-lock kegs and can fit four in my lagering fridge.  If they were pin-lock, I'd only be able to fit three.