Author Topic: No joy in kegging  (Read 3693 times)

Offline oldtymehockey

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No joy in kegging
« on: November 08, 2015, 04:18:27 AM »
I am basically a rookie to brewing. I am a techie. I am also very adept at people skills, automotive, motorcycles, electrical work, and cooking. I am also experience at forums. I have looked across the whole first page of the "Kegging and Bottling" subform. I didn't see a search box pop out at me. Perhaps my frustration is blinding me. I have been brewing since August. I have had some success bottling. I decided to make the jump to ramp up my production. I purchased the Draft Brewer Flex Keg system from Northern Brewer in MN. I am now drinking flat beer and no matter what I do nothing seems to fix it. Here's what I have so far...

Purchased the system new. When I got home I filled the keg I was to use with Star San and let it sit while I boiled my next brew.

Once the wort was cooled and placed in the new FastFerment (another frustration story) I moved on to racking my ready to bottle beer to the freshly sanitized keg.

I filled the keg and sealed the lid. Then I cooled it while I read up on the regulator and connections. I did this because the folks at the store told me my beer wouldn't carbonate until it was chilled.

Once chilled I hooked up the gas lines and turned it to 35-40 psi like the folks in the store told me. I let it sit that way for about 20 hours. That evening I watched a bunch of videos on force carbonating. The next morning I let the air out and set it to serving pressure. Flat.

I then watched some more videos. I took it out of the fridge and followed the videos where I was showed to roll the keg on its side and listen for the gurgling to slow to almost stopped. This I did all day today. I then set pressure to 11psi and headed to the brew store to troubleshoot a leaky MegaPot 1.21 that I just spent another half metric ton of cash on.

When I came back I dropped the temp in my basic fridge from the +3 to the -3 to cool the fridge as I was advised my beer was too warm. It foams like crazy and when the foam settles it is totally flat.

I am pretty sure I can't return what I spent so much on at this point so I am hoping my questions, missteps and total rookie-ness aren't too over the top. I am just not seeing any value in all I have spent this weekend starting with the keg system. I am feeling better served just going back to bottling. However, in winter months in MN the house isn't warm enough to carbonate in bottles. If I can't figure out the keg frustration I may just be drinking crappy flat beer until June.

Any help discussing where I went wrong and if/how I can fix this would be graciously appreciated.

Offline Stevie

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Re: No joy in kegging
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2015, 04:38:33 AM »
You didn't let the keg sit long enough. At serving pressure, the keg needs to sit for about 2 weeks. Higher pressure will speed it up, but there is a risk in over carbonating.

There are a hundred ways to carbonate. I prefer the slowish method these days. I set the regulator to 30-40 for a couple of days and lower it to serving pressure for another week.

Offline oldtymehockey

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Re: No joy in kegging
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2015, 05:49:43 AM »
Thanks Steve in TX. The hype behind kegging as I was informed is one can enjoy beer in days after ferreting rather than weeks. Did I waste my money if I invested in the spirit of saving time as advertised?

In the meantime I will just have to endure flat beer. MN (land of 10,000 lakes and 10,000,000 laws) doesn't sell beer on Sundays. I am refreshing my slim knowledge of the hobby tomorrow with an intro class. I will also ask around once again at the class.

Offline Stevie

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Re: No joy in kegging
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2015, 06:08:27 AM »
You can get beer carbed in 24 hours. Times where I needed it I jacked the pressure way up to 40-45psi and shook the hell out of the keg 50-75 times. The beer must be very cold for this to work. After letting it set for 24 hours, bleed the pressure and set at serving pressure. It's very easy to over do it, and dealing with over carbonated beer takes a few days.

I hate bottling and love kegging. The big time savings is in setup and clean up for me.

Offline PORTERHAUS

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Re: No joy in kegging
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2015, 11:18:41 AM »
Believe me, you did not waste your money on kegging equipment. Its an investment that will serve you well. With that said, it will take patience just like the rest of the brewing hobby. As mentioned you can carbonate the beer faster, but doing so is a hit and miss technique. The best process is sometimes the set it and forget it. Something to keep in mind is if you are going to do any shaking of the keg, you want to purge the keg of any oxygen prior to filling with your beer and then purge the headspace once you have the keg filled and the lid back on. (If you haven't been doing so). This will help avoide oxidizing the beer if you are going to be shaking it.

I have had my share of issues and learning curve with my keg setup but it's been more due to pouring problems, not carbonation problems. Here's what I do:

I crash cool my beer in the fermenter for 2-3 days to get it cold prior to racking to a clean, sanitized keg. It will take more than a couple of hours for the beer to get cold to carbonate, it takes time.

Once the keg is filled, I purge the headspace of oxygen by venting the pressure relief valve.

Set it at my 10-12 psi serving pressure and in a week or so I have carbonated beer.

If I'm wanted to get this carbed up quicker I will crank it up to 30 psi roll the keg on it's side nice and easy about 50 times. I don't shake the hell out of it at all. I leave it at 30 psi overnight and then purge the pressure and set it at 10-12 psi. This system has worked well for me. But giving it a week to sit in the keg, come together, settle, clear up and carbonate slowly helps the beer be more drinkable than trying to have carbonated beer in 24 hrs. You simply will have better results just letting nature take its time.

On a side note, all I use is my picnic taps with my kegs so make sure you start off with about 5 ft of tubing when serving at 35-40* and using 10-12 psi. Carbonation is also a factor of temperature and pressure.

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: No joy in kegging
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2015, 11:49:32 AM »
Contrary to common philosophy, draft homebrew is not easier. For starters kegs have about 14 parts where bottles only have 2. Not to mention the quick disconnects, hoses, faucets... Everything needs to be spotless clean and well sanitized.

Assuming everything is clean and sanitary, purge before filling, purge after filling, then be patient.

I've quick carbed with shaking, I've sorta quick carbed by hitting kegs with 30psi every day for a few days, and I've done the plug it in to serving pressure and wait. The most reliable with best results is serving pressure with patience. Thats the only way I do it now unless, my freshly filled keg doesn't have a home on the tap. In which case I put it in my lagering chest freezer and hit it with 30psi every day for about 3 days then leave it till it goes on tap. Now days I refuse to shake.

Homebrewing is a life. Whats the rush? If you want crappy beer right now, Keystone is 50 cents a can. Drink that till your good stuff is REALLY good.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2015, 12:16:52 PM by klickitat jim »

Offline majorvices

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Re: No joy in kegging
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2015, 01:18:54 PM »
Total disagreement with Jim here. draft beer is way easier and faster than bottling and in many cases will provide better beer.

You can have a beer carbonated and ready in 5-10 minutes. The big key here is MAKE SURE THERE IS ADEQUATE HEAD SPACE. If the has almost no head space it will take forever to carb. Pulling one or two pints will be enough, but a keg that is half full will carbonate much faster (less shaking) than a keg that is 3/4 full.

Once the keg is COLD (under 45 degrees) put the "out" (Black) QDC on your co2 supply and apply 30 psi to the dip tube. Shake for 60 seconds and walk away for a few minutes. And then repeat 2 or 3 times, then check to see if beer is carbbed. If it is not, repeat until it is. If you have headspace and you are pressurizing 30 psi and bubbling co2 up from the bottom while shaking it WILL carbonate.

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: No joy in kegging
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2015, 01:29:47 PM »
See? I knew my thoughts in it were not common. All good.

Offline oldtymehockey

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Re: No joy in kegging
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2015, 01:40:40 PM »
Good info all. Thanks. I suspect my issue is related somehow to temp. I did pull two and a half or so pints. Perhaps a little more head space combined with turning my fridge down to -3 and about 18 hours will help the cause. For reference I have one of those fridges which have the dial with a line n the middle, +1 to +3 on one side and -1 to -3 on the other. -3 is the coldest. By comparing loosely to my LG with a digital readout I surmise the -3 is somewhere between 36 and 38 degrees. I have placed an adhesive thermometer (not adhered to any thing) in the fridge. The reading goes to 39 degrees. So if I don't have any reading I can presume the temp in side is < 39. Let's see what happens when I return from the class today.

Either way I'm glad I signed up here. Thanks!

Offline majorvices

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Re: No joy in kegging
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2015, 02:35:42 PM »
See? I knew my thoughts in it were not common. All good.

Not until you take it back!  :P

Offline coolman26

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Re: No joy in kegging
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2015, 02:51:34 PM »
I like the relax, 2 weeks at serving pressure. I've learned that beer carbonated straight from the fermenter isn't nearly as good as beer one month in the keg. Brew more, get more kegs, and then there is no rush. Just MO of course.
Jeff B

Offline majorvices

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Re: No joy in kegging
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2015, 03:51:19 PM »
I like the relax, 2 weeks at serving pressure. I've learned that beer carbonated straight from the fermenter isn't nearly as good as beer one month in the keg. Brew more, get more kegs, and then there is no rush. Just MO of course.

I'm not really disagreeing with your method but there is this: In the brewing industry we often cold condition and fine our beers in the fermentor. By the time the beer is clear we can then run off to a bright tank, the beer is usually ready to be carbonated and packaged. Normally when the beer is racked into the BBT we carb and package within 24 hours and often times during that very same day.

For homebrew it can be the same. You can cold condition in the fermentor (or "secondary") then rack over to keg once beer is sufficiently clear. Then you can carbonate as fast as you want, it is not going to make any difference in the flavor of the beer once the beer is conditioned and ready to drink.

Offline jeffy

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Re: No joy in kegging
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2015, 04:17:20 PM »
I am not one of those who likes to wait for my keg to gradually carbonate, mostly because I am paranoid of leaks and hate losing all the gas, but also because I am impatient.
I connect the CO2 to my cold keg at about 35 psi and swing it back and forth in front of me about 75 times holding onto one end with each hand (I consider this "exercise"), then remove the tank and put the keg back into the fridge to settle.  Later that day or the next, I vent off the excess gas and serve.  This is not exact, because it depends on the head space in the keg as well as a few things like temperature and probably the viscosity of the beer, but for me it works well.  If the carbonation is too high, each successive pint igets better all by itself.  It it is too low, I add a shot of 35psi and let it sit overnight.
I'm approximating, but I am OK with that.  I am not an engineer.
Jeff Gladish, Tampa (989.3, 175.1 Apparent Rennarian)
Homebrewing since 1990
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Offline The Professor

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Re: No joy in kegging
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2015, 04:56:55 PM »
I like the relax, 2 weeks at serving pressure. I've learned that beer carbonated straight from the fermenter isn't nearly as good as beer one month in the keg. Brew more, get more kegs, and then there is no rush. Just MO of course.
I'm definitely in agreement on that.  An undisturbed  month in the keg does wonders...but 2-3 months is (for me) ideal, resulting in much better tasting brew.  The concept of serving beer a week or two after it is brewed is one of the things that keeps me away from most brewpubs. ("Freshness" is vastly overrated...I hate green tasting beer).

Of course, as coolman correctly points out,  if you go that route the trick is to brew frequently enough to always have properly conditioned (or in my preference, aged) brew ready to consume.
AL
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Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: No joy in kegging
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2015, 05:03:02 PM »
I have not read this whole thing as I am on my way out the door.  Two quick things:  Beer will carbonate quicker when cold.  The people in the store told you a sort of have-truth about beer only carbing when it's cold.  It will carb faster when cold.  Also, my standard carbing routine is 25-30psi for 48 hours.  Works.  Every.  Time.  If I want a beer a little spritzier, I go a few more hours.  If I want a beer with less carb, I go shorter.  I can't see why a cold beer connected to CO2 at 35-40 psi for 20 hours would be flat.  I could see it being undercarbed but not flat.