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General Category => Kegging and Bottling => Topic started by: icedbreeze on November 05, 2010, 02:58:31 PM

Title: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: icedbreeze on November 05, 2010, 02:58:31 PM
Hey guys, maybe you have seen me around on the general forums but I have a question about equipment.  I'm still waiting to bottle my first batch of brew (called away on business and it should be ready to bottle).  But anyways the more I read on the various forums online the general consensus seems to be "keg it!".  I plan on using my bottles for the next few batches I make but in the mean time, maybe I can start stocking up on equipment. 

I guess the main challenge/question I have about kegging is CO2.  My "local home brew supply store" is about a 45 min drive north I've only been a couple times now.  I'm wondering where do you guys buy/refill your CO2 canisters, and how much does it cost?
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: stlaleman on November 05, 2010, 03:08:28 PM
Any welding supply shop should be able to help. I get a 20 pound canister filled for about 23 bucks here in St Louis, Mo
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: icedbreeze on November 05, 2010, 03:32:24 PM
Awesome thanks :)

As far as money/cheapness goes.  After all the major parts are bought in the long run, is kegging or bottling more cost efficient?
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: gordonstrong on November 05, 2010, 03:46:31 PM
I go to a fire safety place. Costs about $12 for a 5 lb refill. More when they need to do a pressure test. Costs less per pound to refill a larger tank. I have a 20 lb for around the house and a 5 lb tank for portable uses.
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: tschmidlin on November 05, 2010, 03:59:27 PM
Awesome thanks :)

As far as money/cheapness goes.  After all the major parts are bought in the long run, is kegging or bottling more cost efficient?
After you have everything you need, time is what you're really saving more than money.  I've never run the numbers, my time is worth it.  But . . .

Kegging: CO2, o-rings, and occasional replacement parts.
Bottling: caps, priming sugar, replacement bottles.

I think bottling will be cheaper, especially if you're recycling commercial bottles for homebrew.
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: icedbreeze on November 05, 2010, 05:17:38 PM
As far as money/cheapness goes.  After all the major parts are bought in the long run, is kegging or bottling more cost efficient?

After you have everything you need, time is what you're really saving more than money.  I've never run the numbers, my time is worth it.  But . . .

Kegging: CO2, o-rings, and occasional replacement parts.
Bottling: caps, priming sugar, replacement bottles.

I think bottling will be cheaper, especially if you're recycling commercial bottles for homebrew.

Thanks, as of right now I have lots of time and not as much money :P  I guess I'll be bottling for a while.  Kegging is definitely an avenue I want visit in the future.
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: tschmidlin on November 05, 2010, 06:04:14 PM
After you have everything you need, time is what you're really saving more than money.  I've never run the numbers, my time is worth it.  But . . .

Kegging: CO2, o-rings, and occasional replacement parts.
Bottling: caps, priming sugar, replacement bottles.

I think bottling will be cheaper, especially if you're recycling commercial bottles for homebrew.

Thanks, as of right now I have lots of time and not as much money :P  I guess I'll be bottling for a while.  Kegging is definitely an avenue I want visit in the future.
If money is tight, bottle.  The cost of entry for kegging is much higher than for bottling.

Build your kegging system slowly - look for deals on craiglist or ebay for CO2 bottles and regulators.  Check with local gas suppliers on the cost of a deposit on a 5 or 20 lb CO2 tank, and then don't pay more than that for a tank.  If you plan to swap your tanks, don't pay for one that looks nice.  Don't pay for a dual gauge regulator, the high-pressure gauge is more or less useless.  If you can find kegs locally for less than $40, get two or more.  Prices are likely to go up.  Once you have those pieces you can worry about faucets and hose and such.  If you have room, you can probably get a kegging fridge for cheap or free on craigslist, but it will probable suck power so will cost more in the long run.

HTH
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: icedbreeze on November 05, 2010, 06:11:33 PM

If money is tight, bottle.  The cost of entry for kegging is much higher than for bottling.

Build your kegging system slowly - look for deals on craiglist or ebay for CO2 bottles and regulators.  Check with local gas suppliers on the cost of a deposit on a 5 or 20 lb CO2 tank, and then don't pay more than that for a tank.  If you plan to swap your tanks, don't pay for one that looks nice.  Don't pay for a dual gauge regulator, the high-pressure gauge is more or less useless.  If you can find kegs locally for less than $40, get two or more.  Prices are likely to go up.  Once you have those pieces you can worry about faucets and hose and such.  If you have room, you can probably get a kegging fridge for cheap or free on craigslist, but it will probable suck power so will cost more in the long run.

HTH


Your amazing!  I'm just putting all this into a word document and saving it for future reference! :D
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: hopfenundmalz on November 05, 2010, 06:24:56 PM
I go to a fire safety place. Costs about $12 for a 5 lb refill. More when they need to do a pressure test. Costs less per pound to refill a larger tank. I have a 20 lb for around the house and a 5 lb tank for portable uses.

The fire safety place is good advice.
For the one I use in Ann Arbor:
5 lb.= $10 (was $9 before the last time)
10Lb= $13 (filled with the 5 lb)
20 Lb = $15 (but that might be $16 now)

The gas is almost free.  The paperwork, labor, and overhead are not.
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: tschmidlin on November 05, 2010, 06:38:11 PM
The reason I prefer to swap is it's just faster.  I don't want to have to go back to the place twice, their hours suck around here.  8-4:30 monday to friday is typical.  AFAIK, the price is similar at drop off places as where I swap.

How much does the hydrostatic testing run?
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: jeffy on November 05, 2010, 06:40:49 PM

If money is tight, bottle.  The cost of entry for kegging is much higher than for bottling.

Build your kegging system slowly - look for deals on craiglist or ebay for CO2 bottles and regulators.  Check with local gas suppliers on the cost of a deposit on a 5 or 20 lb CO2 tank, and then don't pay more than that for a tank.  If you plan to swap your tanks, don't pay for one that looks nice.  Don't pay for a dual gauge regulator, the high-pressure gauge is more or less useless.  If you can find kegs locally for less than $40, get two or more.  Prices are likely to go up.  Once you have those pieces you can worry about faucets and hose and such.  If you have room, you can probably get a kegging fridge for cheap or free on craigslist, but it will probable suck power so will cost more in the long run.

HTH


Your amazing!  I'm just putting all this into a word document and saving it for future reference! :D

Careful, we don't want this to go to his head.
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: tschmidlin on November 05, 2010, 07:54:53 PM
Careful, we don't want this to go to his head.
Too late  ;D
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: euge on November 05, 2010, 07:57:58 PM
I fill mine at the welder's supply by work. Used to go the a fire extinguisher shop. I avoid places like Matheson Tri-gas that require me to leave the tank overnight since the others will do it in a couple minutes while I wait and for cheaper.  ;)

If you need a place to park beer you can use 2&3 liter PET bottles (soda, pop, seltzer) in a pinch. Even carbonate and serve out of them. Just store them in a dark cool place.

Careful, we don't want this to go to his head.
Too late  ;D

LOL
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: tschmidlin on November 05, 2010, 08:01:48 PM
I fill mine at the welder's supply by work. Used to go the a fire extinguisher shop. I avoid places like Matheson Tri-gas that require me to leave the tank overnight since the others will do it in a couple minutes while I wait and for cheaper.  ;)
You have places that will fill why you wait?  All of the places near me send them off to one of their other facilities to have them filled, so the wait is generally more than one day.   :-\
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: euge on November 05, 2010, 08:14:48 PM
That sucks man.  :(

Since I prime and carbonate the beer in the keg now and just use the tank to push the beer my usage has gone way down. I filled my #5 tank back February and still have about 700psi in it.  ;D
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: tschmidlin on November 05, 2010, 10:00:41 PM
That sucks man.  :(

Since I prime and carbonate the beer in the keg now and just use the tank to push the beer my usage has gone way down. I filled my #5 tank back February and still have about 700psi in it.  ;D
Well, that's why I trade instead of fill :)
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: jeffy on November 05, 2010, 10:05:43 PM
That sucks man.  :(

Since I prime and carbonate the beer in the keg now and just use the tank to push the beer my usage has gone way down. I filled my #5 tank back February and still have about 700psi in it.  ;D
Well, that's why I trade instead of fill :)
Really the only reason to refill a tank is if you have a nice, clean, new, shiny tank that you're proud to own.  It's what's inside that counts.  I exchange mine at the local welding supply shop.  The fire extinguisher company near me was not a bargain because they had to send them out (probably to the welding supply place).
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: evandy on November 05, 2010, 11:04:54 PM
Since I prime and carbonate the beer in the keg now and just use the tank to push the beer my usage has gone way down. I filled my #5 tank back February and still have about 700psi in it.  ;D

You do know that, like propane, the only real way to measure how full a CO2 tank is is to use a scale, right?  Like propane, that 5# (or whatever) tank has liquid CO2 in it.  The gas pressure will only vary with temperature until the liquid is gone.  Once the high-pressure needle starts to drop AT ALL, your tank is essentially empty.
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: hopfenundmalz on November 06, 2010, 12:10:19 AM
I fill mine at the welder's supply by work. Used to go the a fire extinguisher shop. I avoid places like Matheson Tri-gas that require me to leave the tank overnight since the others will do it in a couple minutes while I wait and for cheaper.  ;)
You have places that will fill why you wait?  All of the places near me send them off to one of their other facilities to have them filled, so the wait is generally more than one day.   :-\

The fire safety place fills while I wait.  The first time I had a thick book.  Only got about 3 pages read and they came out with the tank.
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: euge on November 06, 2010, 12:14:06 AM
Since I prime and carbonate the beer in the keg now and just use the tank to push the beer my usage has gone way down. I filled my #5 tank back February and still have about 700psi in it.  ;D

You do know that, like propane, the only real way to measure how full a CO2 tank is is to use a scale, right?  Like propane, that 5# (or whatever) tank has liquid CO2 in it.  The gas pressure will only vary with temperature until the liquid is gone.  Once the high-pressure needle starts to drop AT ALL, your tank is essentially empty.

Yes. They weigh it out. I've seen it. I think ten+ months on a #5 tank is impressive at my consumption levels.  :D I used to do about 3 refills a year when everything was force-carbed. As far as the needle dropping YMMV. I have a saying: in the red- it's dead.


Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: corkybstewart on November 06, 2010, 12:23:06 AM
I get swap refills at the welding shop.  Sure the bottles are ugly but I've never had to pay for a hydrotest. 
I recommend getting the biggest bottle you can.  I pay $20 to fill a 50 pound tank delivered to my office.  Once my 20 pound tank goes dry(been 2 years now) I'll hook up the big one and probably die before it does.  20 pounds costs $12, 5 pounds costs $10 and my 2 pound traveling bottle costs $8.
Build a relationship with them and it pays off.  The welding shop didn't have a 5 pound tank swap one day so they gave me another 20 pounder.  Somebody left a 2 pounder there and never came back for it so they gave it to me since there's no market for a bottle that small
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: tschmidlin on November 06, 2010, 05:50:21 AM
That's awesome corky.  The guys at the new welding place are getting to know me, they only opened in the last year or so.  I don't get in there too frequently since the tanks last so long, but they know I'm a brewer and we talk beer.  I need to take them some samples next time.   :)
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: corkybstewart on November 06, 2010, 04:32:01 PM
Our company probably spends $50-75K annually with these guys.  But they're afraid of drinking my homebrew, one of the employees lives down the street from me and visited once but since he's a hard core Silver Bullet drinker my stout overwhelmed him after one sip.
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: tschmidlin on November 06, 2010, 07:58:29 PM
Maybe you can serve them a glass of water with a drop or two of your stout added :)

The guys at my local place like good beer, they like to go to the local bottle shop/pub or one of the breweries after work.
Title: Re: Kegging and CO2 refills/purchase
Post by: CASK1 on November 08, 2010, 06:20:27 PM
That sucks man.  :(

Since I prime and carbonate the beer in the keg now and just use the tank to push the beer my usage has gone way down. I filled my #5 tank back February and still have about 700psi in it.  ;D
FYI as long as there is any liquid CO2 in the tank, the tank pressure will not change. Once the gauge pressure begins to drop, you're "running on fumes". It may still last awhile, but there is NOT a gradual drop in tank pressure as CO2 is consumed from a full tank.