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General Category => Kegging and Bottling => Topic started by: yendor30 on May 17, 2016, 08:46:49 AM

Title: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: yendor30 on May 17, 2016, 08:46:49 AM
My real question is for you more experienced brewers do you prefer bottle conditioning or kegging and force carbonating...I have been brewing for several months now my batches all ways taste good but sometimes the carbonation is weird or not enough could be an issue with right amount and type of priming sugar but either way im thinking about making the switch
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: Slowbrew on May 17, 2016, 11:29:13 AM
My experience was that I got tired of bottling.  It was nice to take a 12 pack to a party but you always had to deal with the dregs on the bottom of each bottle.

That's what I say today but the deeper truth is I thought it would be really cool to have beer on tap in the basement all the time.   ;D

On the other side kegging means some relatively expensive equipment for the convenience.  Taking beer to  a party is now hauling a keg and CO2 tank/regulator, ice and an "Ice Cube" cooler with you.  It makes you popular but also can be a pain in the tail.

I don't normally force carb my kegs.  I'm not in a hurry since I usually have more beer on hand than I can consume anyway so I still carb with priming sugar.  If the keg is over carbed, I can de-gas it.  Under carbed and I can let it sit a few days.

I hope this is useful.

Paul
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: jtoots on May 17, 2016, 12:51:27 PM
I keg, force carb.  Bottling became the achilles heel of my brewing process.  Such a PITA.  Go for it!!!
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: kramerog on May 17, 2016, 01:45:10 PM
It is not an either or situation.  Beers that can be improved with aging, e.g., barleywine can be bottled, others are kegged.  Being able to do stuff to beer in the keg is a big advantage. For example, an older IPA can be revived by dry hopping in the keg.
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: Stevie on May 17, 2016, 02:07:04 PM
^ this

Be forewarned, kegging has its own headaches. All is roses until you need to chase down a gas leak or you get a clogged poppet.
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: blair.streit on May 17, 2016, 02:08:17 PM
Kegging is SO much easier for me that I would brew a lot less frequently if I had to bottle each batch to carb and condition it.

I usually keep my beer on tap at home and serve from a keg, but I have plenty of repackaging options. If I want to take a little beer somewhere for same day consumption I can easily fill a growler or swing-top bottle. If I want to package for a competition or longer term storage I use a Beer Gun.

When it comes to carbonating I have a lot more control. I know where I want most of my recipes now, but the regulator makes it really easy for me to find the carbonation level I prefer on a new recipe.
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: pete b on May 17, 2016, 02:54:44 PM
I never really minded bottling but I just started kegging. It has its own headaches and heartbreaks but it adds flexibility as you can always bottle condition. I suggest getting a bottling device for your kegs. I have The Last Straw which has a nice feature of one-handed operation as well as a button to fill the bottle with co2 to purge. One great thing is that it makes bottling mead way faster, I just rack into the keg and push the mead into bottles with the Last Straw. Its easier than doing it from a bottling bucket.
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: dilluh98 on May 17, 2016, 03:05:40 PM
It is not an either or situation.  Beers that can be improved with aging, e.g., barleywine can be bottled, others are bottled.  Being able to do stuff to beer in the keg is a big advantage. For example, an older IPA can be revived by dry hopping in the keg.

As a bottler, I am definitely envious of certain aspects of kegging but it's not in my budget or within space constraints of our house right now. I also have to deal with high/low pressure gas systems and manifolds on a daily basis at work so I'd rather not have my hobby involve that as well at this point. Also, it's really nice to have friends over, have them try my beer and if they really like it, walk into the closet, pluck a bomber and say, "here you go."

To those who say that bottling is a big hassle, I would say that there are always process improvements to be made that can make bottling not such a chore. I have modified my bottling process to the point where I'm never hunching over a case of bombers anymore, cleaning and sanitizing bottles is almost effortless and a 5 gallon batch takes half the time it used to to bottle.
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: reverseapachemaster on May 17, 2016, 03:14:31 PM
This forum is probably one of the few places that people ever openly talk about the troubles of kegging. Usually you read how bottling is nothing but problems while kegging is problem-free. That's just not true. Each comes with its own benefits and its own burdens.

I don't think sinking costs into kegging is a good remedy for problems with bottling. Adjusting your bottling process to get good carbonation is not difficult. If you want to switch to kegging you should do it because you want to keg not because you don't want to adjust your bottling process.
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: blair.streit on May 17, 2016, 03:37:19 PM
This forum is probably one of the few places that people ever openly talk about the troubles of kegging. Usually you read how bottling is nothing but problems while kegging is problem-free. That's just not true. Each comes with its own benefits and its own burdens.
Absolutely true. I've managed to royally screw up almost every process in this hobby (usually more than once). Kegging is no exception. Once I figured out all the seals, gaskets and fittings it was no big deal, but I definitely leaked my fair share of beer and CO2 in the process of figuring it out.
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: Joe Sr. on May 17, 2016, 03:40:49 PM
I'm actually considering moving back to bottling more...

Kegs are great. They're easy to fill.  Chasing down leaks is a PITA, but not that difficult.

Kegging can get expensive as you acquire more and more and need to have a dedicated beer fridge with multiple Perlick taps and multiple regulators to keep them all at the perfect carbonation.

But, there's a whole continuum of kegging.  You can get by with one or two kegs, cobra taps, a mini-fridge, and a 5 gallon CO2 tank.
Title: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: tommymorris on May 17, 2016, 03:41:27 PM
I keg.

But, I like bottles because they create a natural stopping point. 1 bottle is 12 oz. I will drink 1 and stop.

With kegging I serve a pint. Then sneak a few more ounces. Then a few more.

Makes watching my weight more challenging.
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: Slowbrew on May 17, 2016, 03:53:38 PM
I keg.

But, I like bottles because they create a natural stopping point. 1 bottle is 12 oz. I will drink 1 and stop.

With kegging I serve a pint. Then sneak a few more ounces. Then a few more.

Makes watching my weight more challenging.

+1 (or more)

Where I used to have 1 or maybe 2 bottles of beer I now find myself finishing 3 or maybe 4 pints and wondering where those extra pounds are coming from?   ::)  It can be too convenient some evenings after work.

Paul
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: blair.streit on May 17, 2016, 03:54:47 PM
I keg.

But, I like bottles because they create a natural stopping point. 1 bottle is 12 oz. I will drink 1 and stop.

With kegging I serve a pint. Then sneak a few more ounces. Then a few more.

Makes watching my weight more challenging.
+10 (pounds)

+1 (or more)

Where I used to have 1 or maybe 2 bottles of beer I now find myself finishing 3 or maybe 4 pints and wondering where those extra pounds are coming from?   ::)  It can be too convenient some evenings after work.

Paul
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: dilluh98 on May 17, 2016, 04:22:05 PM
I keg.

But, I like bottles because they create a natural stopping point. 1 bottle is 12 oz. I will drink 1 and stop.


Yup. Seeing a bunch of bombers lined up next to the sink the next day is a good quantitative reminder. My general rule is, if my wife won't share/finish a bomber with me, I don't open one. Most often this limits us to one or two bombers on a given night but increasingly it just means we don't crack one at all.
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: brewinhard on May 17, 2016, 04:41:54 PM
Kegging 100% of the way. It has saved much time and effort in my brewing process. All the way.  You will not be upset you did it.
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: pete b on May 17, 2016, 06:19:57 PM
I keg.

But, I like bottles because they create a natural stopping point. 1 bottle is 12 oz. I will drink 1 and stop.

With kegging I serve a pint. Then sneak a few more ounces. Then a few more.

Makes watching my weight more challenging.
+1 I was thinking of putting the keezer upstairs but decided to keep it in the cellar. It makes each beer more of a decision and saves me from having to do the woodworking to make the keezer presentable. 
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: lindak on May 18, 2016, 04:24:40 AM
If you like to have the room and money--  and you like to tinker around with new gear--  go for it.  I started kegging about a year send a half ago.  I love every aspect of it.  I was not a huge fan of bottling and kegging day is way less tedious than bottling.  I actually enjoy cleaning beer lines, fine tuning the temp controller, getting the right carb level, etc.  I don't know if kegging takes less time in total, but I enjoy the effort more.  I am suspect of the folks that say you can drink and enjoy your brews soon after kegging/carbing--  I think mine brews are better after a few weeks in the keg.  All in all, the planning and building of your system can be lots fun.  And at the end there is beer.  It doesn't get much better than that. 
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: lyagooshka on May 18, 2016, 02:55:16 PM
I'm going for broke and getting a kegging system this weekend.
I have a Session IPA that's almost done, and I will be using it for my "maiden voyage".
I've read a few folks here talk about lugging a keg to parties.
IMHO, kegging actually makes it easier.
No more worrying about how much priming sugar to use, just a few days on tap, and you can bottle right from the keg.
And don't forget growlers.
Anyway, good luck.
I'm looking forward to the experience.
I'll be keeping it in a spare full-size fridge for now, until I get a keg system going (IF is more like it).
Let us know how it goes for you.
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: narvin on May 18, 2016, 03:30:32 PM
You should keg.  You'll brew more often and enjoy a fresher product.  There are some long-aging beers I still bottle, but most of the time kegging is the way to go.
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: Lazy Ant Brewing on May 23, 2016, 01:54:22 PM
Depends on your circumstances.

I'm 69, have weight and medication issues so I limit my consumption to 4 to 5 bottles a week.  I also have older friends with similar situations.

For me bottling makes more sense.  I can take 3 or 4 bottles of different brews when visiting without having to lug kegs.  Since I'm retired,  it's easy to find the time required to clean, sanitize, prime and fill them.

The extra delay required for bottle carbonation is not a huge issue if you plan ahead.

Each to his own, however. 

Cheers no matter which alternative you decide to use.
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: pete b on May 23, 2016, 02:12:08 PM
As far as the time it takes to drink the beer when bottle conditioning I think that's a red herring. Most beers need the same 2-3 weeks in the keg before they are truly at their best and also are generally better a week or two after that. Yes, you can force carb at high pressure and have it carbed in a day or two but that doesn't mean you should. You could keep primed bottles at 80 degrees and rouse twice a day and have them carbed pretty quick too but I don't recommend it.
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: Werks21 on July 07, 2016, 03:59:51 AM
As far as the time it takes to drink the beer when bottle conditioning I think that's a red herring. Most beers need the same 2-3 weeks in the keg before they are truly at their best and also are generally better a week or two after that. Yes, you can force carb at high pressure and have it carbed in a day or two but that doesn't mean you should. You could keep primed bottles at 80 degrees and rouse twice a day and have them carbed pretty quick too but I don't recommend it.


This has been my experience as well. fast carbed beers dont usually pour well and most beers taste better with some time on them anyway. I suppose in a pinch you have the option to carb fast and accept the results but its not the best method anyway.
I say go for it if you have the room and money. A Keg or 5 of beer on tap in your own home is a very cool thing.
Title: Re: having hard time deciding if i should upgrade to kegging what do you recommend
Post by: dilluh98 on July 07, 2016, 02:32:37 PM
As far as the time it takes to drink the beer when bottle conditioning I think that's a red herring. Most beers need the same 2-3 weeks in the keg before they are truly at their best and also are generally better a week or two after that. Yes, you can force carb at high pressure and have it carbed in a day or two but that doesn't mean you should. You could keep primed bottles at 80 degrees and rouse twice a day and have them carbed pretty quick too but I don't recommend it.

This.

I've noticed that when I bottle condition for a bit longer and at slightly lower temp, I like what it does for the beer and the carbonation rather than rousing every day at near 80 F for a week. They both end up being adequately carbonated but the former tastes better and the carbonation is higher quality if that makes any sense. I feel that the quick bottle conditioning results in bigger/harsher bubbles whereas longer bottle conditioning gives  a smoother more substantial head and a more pleasant mouthfeel with respect to the carbonation.