Homebrewers Association | AHA Forum

General Category => Kegging and Bottling => Topic started by: kgs on March 10, 2011, 04:40:43 AM

Title: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: kgs on March 10, 2011, 04:40:43 AM
Reading up on kegging, and feeling confused.

So I brew beer, ferment it, rack it into a keg, attach a CO2 source, and force-carbonate for a week or so. Do I put all this gear in a fridge? If I have a 3-gallon keg, can the keg and the CO2 source fit in my kitchen fridge? Or should the keg be at cellar temp like the rest of my beer (a closet in the garage, which is chilly almost year-round)? Then what? How do I know when it’s done? How do I chill it?

How do I get the beer out of the keg? I know that sounds really stupid. Is that what the picnic tap is for? If I serve some of the keg but I have beer left over, how do I turn off the tap?

What exactly am I regulating with those regulators, and why? (Pressure of the Co2 canister, pressure of the keg?)

For CO2, I see big canisters, paintball canisters, proprietary small canisters... lots of choices. Weight is an issue for me. At the high end, what does a 5-gallon keg plus a large Co2 canister weigh? What about a 3-gallon keg with a paintball canister?

Why is there air? Oh sorry. Another forum. Thanks for any help you can provide!
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: tschmidlin on March 10, 2011, 05:46:11 AM
You are better off force carbonating in the cold.  It wouldn't fit in my kitchen fridge very well, but yours might be different.  Then you wait a week or two or more.  YOu know it's done when you get a good pour out of it and the carb in your beer is right :)

To get it out, you can use a picnic tap and a length of hose appropriate for the psi on the keg.  You don't have to serve the whole keg, it will be fine with just CO2 on it.

For regulators you only need a low-pressure gauge, not the high-pressure gauge that reads the tank.

A full 5-lb tank of CO2 will weigh less than 20 lbs.  A full 5-gallon corney will weigh less than 60 lbs.  You can move the keg and CO2 separately.

Air is more complicated :)
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: euge on March 10, 2011, 08:02:10 AM
Kegging makes brewing dead simple. I've used the picnic style taps for 4 years and don't even keep the co2 (5#) hooked up. The tendency is to sugar prime as you may recall. My Sanyo 4912 kegerator holds two 5 gallon cornies. Possibly it could hold four 2.5's or two 3's and two 2.5's with some slight modding.

If weight is an issue then smaller kegs will work. It can be as simple or complex as you desire.

Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: jeffy on March 10, 2011, 12:21:32 PM
I don't put the CO2 bottle in the fridge either.  As a matter of fact I don't even connect it or turn the valve on unless I want to force carb a keg or add some pressure to a keg for serving.  A keg with 10psi of pressure will pour a few pints of beer without "recharging" it with more gas.  (This is dependant on the amount of head space though - more head space volume will push more beer, so you don't need to charge the keg with more gas as much as it empties.)
Lots of folks on this forum force carbonate by leaving the CO2 attached to the keg for a week at cold temps.  I prefer to get the keg cold and force carbonate at higher pressure (30+ psi), shaking the keg for about a minute.  With practice I've gotten consistent results this way.  I'm afraid of leaks since I have so many kegs so I don't like to leave the gas turned on.  Besides I'm not patient enough to wait a week.
A picnic tap is just a thumb operated valve on the end of a hose. 
You are regulating the amount of pressure going to the keg.  There's a screw on the reg that controls the amount of pressure up or down.
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: tygo on March 10, 2011, 12:48:36 PM
You are regulating the amount of pressure going to the keg.  There's a screw on the reg that controls the amount of pressure up or down.

Here's a dumb but important question that I believe I know the answer to but just to confirm:  You turn the screws on the regulator in to open them, right?  Not out as would seem logical in other applications.
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: mainebrewer on March 10, 2011, 01:16:10 PM
Yes, turning the regulator screw clockwise opens the valve.
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: kgs on March 10, 2011, 02:03:24 PM
The tendency is to sugar prime as you may recall.


Hmmm, righty loosey lefty tighty... that's not what I learned in the service... thanks.

More questions ahead...

These responses are all very helpful -- for example, re euge's comment about sugar priming, I didn't pick that up at all from what I've been reading, not that my reading has been at all indepth or methodical. I just checked How to Brew, and as far as I can tell there's no mention of kegging (though the book is poorly indexed). I tend to discount Joy of Home Brewing as being fun but dated, but to my surprise it has an appendix on kegging I ignored back when I was focused on the basics, and the appendix discusses sugar-priming and other methods of carbonation.

The Toobs are highly variable; a two-page PDF from Morebeer never once mentions sugar-priming, though it has some helpful explanations of keg components I haven't seen elsewhere. The Homebrewopedia has this much to say about kegging: "Kegging.[keh'-ging] Drawing beer from a fermenter to kegs." A lot of homebrewing store websites appear to assume people know what they're buying.

I am also just figuring out that all that discussion about "ball lock" and "pin lock" refers to two different types of gas-in and beer-out connection points, if I'm right (I do get that used Cornie kegs generally have one or the other style, and that new kegs appear to be all ball lock). The lid of the keg appears roughly equivalent to a large bottlecap that isn't ever removed. The picnic tap is like a garden hose sprayer.

So there are several ways to carbonate beer in a keg. Ok. Now I'm trying to work out in my head the... physics??? of what's going on during the dispensing of a glass of kegged beer. Is it displacing the volume of beer dispensed from the keg with CO2 so that the keg remains full and the beer is always blanketed with a non-oxidizing gas? Does the CO2 help push out the beer from the keg, essentially displacing space in the keg so the beer has to come out of the keg via the line?

Re the total weight and my fridge capacity... I brew small batches because that's what I can easily lift and move, and I'm the only one in this home who likes beer. Even as separate components, I don't have the space or desire to be juggling 60 lbs + 20 lbs. Several homebrew stores sell 3-gallon or 2.5-gallon kegs, and some homebrew stores sell alternatives (I don't know how well they work) to the large CO2 containers. Through a miracle, we rent a place with a humongous, fairly new Kitchenaid fridge. I cook a lot and the two of us still don't fill that fridge, which means we're wasting energy chilling space. Having a small keg in the fridge at all times would be environmentally responsible!  ;-)
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: jeffy on March 10, 2011, 02:21:27 PM
Have you ever considered a Party Pig? http://www.partypig.com/
They fit nicely into a fridge, hold about 2.5 gallons and are self-pressurizing.  You put a bladder inside that expands to take up the space when you draw off a glass of beer.
I used to use one before I got extra refrigerators and kegs.
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: denny on March 10, 2011, 03:42:59 PM
This is the best kegging info I've found.  It really helped me when I started out.

http://www.bodensatz.com/staticpages/index.php?page=Soda-Kegs
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: kgs on March 10, 2011, 04:21:45 PM
This is the best kegging info I've found.  It really helped me when I started out.

http://www.bodensatz.com/staticpages/index.php?page=Soda-Kegs

Wow, Denny, that's excellent! Thanks so much. This is starting to sink in. (The part about the tubing length making a difference... I'm trying to figure out which professor to ask: math or science...)
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: tschmidlin on March 10, 2011, 05:12:36 PM
Based on what you're describing I don't recommend cornies for you at all.  The smaller ones are expensive since you pretty much have to buy them new, and they are heavier than other options.  What jeffy posted about party pigs is right on, and there are other options as well (tap a draft, mini kegs) that I think will work better for you.
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: kgs on March 10, 2011, 05:50:24 PM
Thanks! I'll take it all under consideration. Either the Tap-A-Draft or the Party Pig might really be up my alley. (Though kegging sounds interesting.)
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: euge on March 10, 2011, 07:14:34 PM
Kgs the "tendency" is my own not that of the brewing community.
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: tschmidlin on March 10, 2011, 07:26:58 PM
Kgs the "tendency" is my own not that of the brewing community.
Yeah, I haven't seen any polls but from the discussions we've had around here it sounds like most people force carbonate.  I do.
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: kgs on March 10, 2011, 07:55:30 PM
Kgs the "tendency" is my own not that of the brewing community.
Yeah, I haven't seen any polls but from the discussions we've had around here it sounds like most people force carbonate.  I do.

Thanks for the clarification!
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: denny on March 10, 2011, 08:20:37 PM
Me, too.  CO2 is CO2, no matter what the source.  Priming kegs just makes more sediment.
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: tygo on March 10, 2011, 08:40:43 PM
This is the best kegging info I've found.  It really helped me when I started out.

http://www.bodensatz.com/staticpages/index.php?page=Soda-Kegs

That's where I saw the info about which way to turn the regulator screw.   Had I not read that my first experience hooking up the regulator to the tank might have been a bit too exciting.
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: kgs on March 11, 2011, 04:19:40 AM
Me, too.  CO2 is CO2, no matter what the source.  Priming kegs just makes more sediment.

Maybe euge is just a sedimental kind of guy...
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: euge on March 11, 2011, 06:16:52 AM
Me, too.  CO2 is CO2, no matter what the source.  Priming kegs just makes more sediment.

Maybe euge is just a sedimental kind of guy...

Badump-Badump! :D

The sediment created is negligible and after a glass or two I can see no real difference. It is important to get the beer off the yeast though if the keg(s) are just going to sit there and cellar. My understanding that yeast autolysis can affect head retention negatively.
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: newrocset on March 19, 2011, 01:35:59 AM
I'm new to kegging myself and here's my question:

Can I:

Carbonate my keg to 12psi at fridge temp, unhook the CO2 and let it carb?

or do I have to:

Dial up regulator to 12psi and leave keg in fridge with CO2 hooked up at 12psi and wait for a week to for it to absorb all the CO2

OR

Will it work if I charge my keg every other day at 12psi for a week? - I have 2 different kegs in my fridge right now and only one tank (no splitter) and I want both of these beers ready in a week or so.

Thanks!   ;)

Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: tschmidlin on March 19, 2011, 05:24:55 AM
I'd advise chilling your beer, putting 12 psi on one keg and shaking it a ton.  Then doing the same to the other keg, and leave the gas on it for the night.  Do it every day for a week leaving the gas on alternating kegs, and I guarantee they'll both be carbed.

You can't do 12 psi and then take the gas off, you won't get enough in solution.  Leaving it hooked up is the way to go, but 3-4 days or even a week of constantly being connected is not going to carb it well enough either.  Over pressurizing and shaking is likely to get you two overcarbonated kegs.

I recently carbed a keg in less than 36 hours by chilling and shaking at serving pressure.
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: tygo on March 21, 2011, 10:45:12 AM
Somewhat related question to the above:  I moved a lager into the keg this weekend.  It was at 60F when I transferred it.  I sealed it up and put it on the gas at 10 PSI for about 36 hours while it chilled to 38F to make sure it was sealed.  If I take it off the gas for a couple of days will it stay sealed and keep the air out of the keg?  I'm not worried about having it properly carbed at this point.
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: mainebrewer on March 21, 2011, 12:29:21 PM
If there is no leak, the keg will maintain pressure for an extended period of time.
Not indefinitely, but much longer than a couple of days.
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: oscarvan on March 23, 2011, 12:20:55 AM
I recently carbed a keg in less than 36 hours by chilling and shaking at serving pressure.

Have had to do it in less for a party. Chilled from crash cooling, racked to keg. I put a bar stool in front of the fridge (CO2 bottle is outside the fridge) and I hook up a 6 foot line with 30 psi on it...... Put the keg in your lap and rockabye baby for about a half hour. Another 12 hours in the fridge at 30 psi and we were off to the races. Hey, it was a party, not a judging session.  ;D
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: newrocset on March 23, 2011, 02:16:24 AM
Somewhat related question to the above:  I moved a lager into the keg this weekend.  It was at 60F when I transferred it.  I sealed it up and put it on the gas at 10 PSI for about 36 hours while it chilled to 38F to make sure it was sealed.  If I take it off the gas for a couple of days will it stay sealed and keep the air out of the keg?  I'm not worried about having it properly carbed at this point.


I would take a sample after the 36 hours and see if it's adequately carbed. If not, then charge it again.  It's supposed to take a week to carb at refrigerator temp, but I'm not specific on whether you need to leave the CO2 on it, or if you can just charge it one time and wait.  My guess though is that you need to charge quite a few times due to CO2 absorption.....I'm taking tschmidlin's advice above and alternating the carbonation on two kegs every 24 hours.

I'm curious to know whether your beer carbed after 36 hours.....I'm going to check my beers on Friday....boy I hope they're carbed  ::)
Title: Re: Newbie Kegging Kwestions
Post by: tschmidlin on March 23, 2011, 04:14:52 AM
I'm curious to know whether your beer carbed after 36 hours.....I'm going to check my beers on Friday....boy I hope they're carbed  ::)
Mine was perfectly carbed after 36 hours.  You can do it oscarvan's way and over pressurize it to carb it faster, but I've ended up with too many over carbonated beers that way and it's just annoying to have to take out CO2 so I don't do it any more.  That's why I prefer chilling and carbing at serving temperature, and shaking it to speed things up if I need to.  But you'll figure out a way that works for you, these are just ideas.