Author Topic: New to kegging  (Read 1124 times)

Offline James

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
New to kegging
« on: February 09, 2017, 05:12:17 PM »
Hello everyone.  I just joined the AHA and this is my first official forum post!

I have gotten sick of bottling and all the hassle that comes with it, and I am looking to switch to kegging.

The problem is, I have no experience with it and really don't know where to start.  I would ideally like to have two kegs, because two beers are always better than one  :D.  I am looking for a system that would allow me to have both on tap at the same time.  Would I need multiple CO2 tanks?  And where is the best place to go for quality kegs and equipment?  I am fairly flexible on my budget, though obviously the less I have to spend, the better.

Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!

Offline Slowbrew

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2431
  • The Slowly Losing IT Brewery in Urbandale, IA
    • View Profile
Re: New to kegging
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2017, 05:29:12 PM »
I bought most of my kegs off e-bay many years ago.  No good current recommendations for retailers. 

Be careful buying CO2 tanks off e-bay.  I have one some CO2 places won't fill because it's tagged as belonging to Coke.  Kind of a pain.

You do not need 2 CO2 bottle to serve 2 beers.  One is plenty.  You may only need a splitter for the gas line if bother beers are served at the same dispensing pressure.  If you need two serving pressures you will need to add a ganged regulator connected to your main regulator.

I would recommend more than 2 kegs if you want to keep 2 on tap.  I'd probably get 4.  Two on tap, two being filled.  Otherwise you will have times with only one, or none, beers on tap.

There are many threads on kegging on the forum.  Do a little searching and I'm sure you will start getting ideas.

Welcome the party!!

Paul
Where the heck are we going?  And what's with this hand basket?

Offline nero558

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 13
    • View Profile
Re: New to kegging
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2017, 06:33:14 PM »
I'd definitely second having extra kegs on hand. It makes things so much easier. I have one co2 tank with a secondary regulator and a 4 way splitter. So I have 4 beers on tap and the secondary regulator allows me to carb at 30psi without disturbing the other beers. What I'm saying is there is a billion different ways you can set up. You can spend as little or as much as you'd like. Used equipment is definitely cheaper, but some prefer brand new stuff. It's all up to you. Sometimes adventures in Homebrewing has used kegs for sale. And my local homebrew shop sells new and used. So check there if you have one near by.

Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk


Online narcout

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1833
  • Los Angeles, CA
    • View Profile
Re: New to kegging
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2017, 12:59:59 AM »
There a couple different routes you can go, from storing kegs in a fridge and dispensing with picnic taps to buying or building a kegerator with a draft tower to converting a chest freezer (google “keezer”).

A few things you will need and some random info that may be helpful...

For a CO2 tank, you can buy a new shiny one or call your local Airgas (or similar) distributor and find out how much it is to join their program where you just swap out empty for full tanks when you run out of gas.  I’d go with a 10 lb. tank if you have the space.

Then you need a regulator for the CO2 tank.   There are a bunch to choose from, I have this one and am
happy with it:

http://www.morebeer.com/products/taprite-dual-gauge-co2-regulator.html

Used kegs have gone up in price and down in quality over the last few years, but lower cost, good quality new kegs are now available at reasonable prices.  Here are a few options:

http://www.morebeer.com/products/torpedo-ball-lock-kegs.html

https://beveragelements.com/beverage_elements_shop/kegs/new-ball-lock-kegs/5-gallon-ball-lock-keg-single-handle-new/

https://beveragelements.com/beverage_elements_shop/kegs/5-gallon-ball-lock-keg-dual-handle-new/

The reason you only need one CO2 tank is because you can connect the regulator to a distributor similar to the one below.  It’s nice to buy one with an extra port so you can purge kegs or rack beer when the other ports are occupied.

http://www.northernbrewer.com/3-way-co2-distributor-w-1-4-mfl-shutoffs

I like the flared versions better than the barbed versions (for both the distributors and the keg disconnects).

From the distributor, you run gas lines to the kegs which connect to the gas disconnect.  You’ll need one of each of these for each keg you are dispensing.

http://www.morebeer.com/products/ball-lock-beverage-flare.html?site_id=9

http://www.morebeer.com/products/ball-lock-gas-flare.html?site_id=9

You will also need gas and beverage tubing.  I would get at least 5 feet of gas tubing for each keg, and longer for the extra port on your manifold so you have some reach when purging etc. 

I would also get about 10 feet of 3/16” beverage tubing for each liquid connection.  Read up on how to balance a draft system to prevent foaming (it isn't very complicated and there are a lot of resources on the web; use more beverage tubing than you think you need, it usually doesn't harm anything and you can always cut it shorter if you want).

To connect tubing to flared disconnects you need a barbed swivel nut, like this:

http://www.northernbrewer.com/brewing/kegging/tubing/clamps-etc/barbed-swivel-nut-k123

Then you use a hose clamp to secure the tubing to the barbed swivel nut.  You can use the regular worm gear style clamps, but I much prefer stepless ear clamps for permanent (or at least semi-permanent) connections.  Buy a bunch of them.

They look like this: http://www.northernbrewer.com/stepless-clamp-no-145-oetiker

They do require a special clamper.  You can often find them on Ebay or elsewhere for a decent prince.  This is what it looks like (but don’t buy this one as you can get it for less than half somewhere else):

https://www.amazon.com/Oetiker-14100083-Side-Jaw-formerly-Plastic-Coated/dp/B0037QFNJM

For any metal to metal connections you want to use a flared washer, like this:

http://www.morebeer.com/products/flare-fitting-washer.html?site_id=9

You do not need flared washers for the connections to the disconnects, as the disconnects already have a built-in washer.

It's also a good idea to have a little keg lube on hand:

http://www.morebeer.com/products/cip-film-keg-lube-4-oz.html?site_id=7
It's too close to home
And it's too near the bone

Offline Andy Farke

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 144
  • Homebrewing Paleontologist
    • View Profile
    • Andy's Brewing Blog
Re: New to kegging
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2017, 04:53:08 PM »
I second the suggestion above to have at least 4 kegs if you have a 2-tap system. That way you'll always have beer ready to go when one keg kicks. You might also think about your space limitations at home, and how big of a system you want to do. Will you be using a refrigerator? A chester freezer? I have a 3 keg keezer, which is about perfect for me. It seems to be the sweet spot for variety and quantity in our household. (whenever I get bored with my beer, we hold a happy hour, and clear out a ton of it with the help of some friends! I'm at the point in life where I really don't need to finish a 5 gallon keg all on my own).

A keezer is really handy in terms of footprint and appearance. We have it in a corner of a smaller room, where the top can double as a table. The main disadvantage that I have found is that it takes a bit more effort to lift kegs in and out of the keezer--if you have back issues or strength limitations, that would be something to keep in mind. Also, it's really hard to clean on the bottom of the unit. Fridges are bulkier, but way easier to access. Before you buy something, get some cardboard cutouts of your keg bottoms (or an approximation), and test them out to make sure everything fits. Check height carefully, too. Full kegs are heavy, so make sure that if you do a fridge that the shelf the kegs sit on can support them.

Another decision is ball lock vs. pin lock...I have a pinlock system, which is great for me, but most of my brewing friends have balllocks, so it makes it annoying if we want to share kegs or if I want to bring a keg to a brew club event.

You don't need to do this right away, but I saved my pennies and got a second CO2 cylinder. This means that I can carbonate stuff outside of the keezer, so that the keg is all ready to go whenever it's needed (minus a cooling/settling period after movement). Also, if the cylinder in my keezer runs out, I can just swap it out immediately (very handy if it happens at a time when you can't get to the gas supplier immediately).

Depending on your system, I would recommend at least 15 feet of beverage line per tap...I started on the shorter side (~10 feet), and ended up having to go longer (and hence ended up with tubing lengths that weren't at all useful).
____________________________
Andy Farke, Homebrewer and Paleontologist
Website: http://www.andybrews.com
Twitter: @andyfarke
Facebook: Farke Brewing

Offline EnkAMania

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 174
    • View Profile
Re: New to kegging
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2017, 05:07:01 PM »
I bought from kegerator.com (I'm not handy, so wanted something ready to go)  I did add a tower cooler, as in the summer in my garage it could poor foam.  I've also installed longer lines.  I also have four kegs for a two keg system.
Some day we'll look back on this and it will all seem funny

Offline Joe Sr.

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4383
  • Chicago - NORTH SIDE
    • View Profile
Re: New to kegging
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2017, 05:27:20 PM »
You don't need to do this right away, but I saved my pennies and got a second CO2 cylinder. This means that I can carbonate stuff outside of the keezer, so that the keg is all ready to go whenever it's needed (minus a cooling/settling period after movement). Also, if the cylinder in my keezer runs out, I can just swap it out immediately (very handy if it happens at a time when you can't get to the gas supplier immediately).

100% agreed on the benefits of a second CO2 canister.  Not a necessity, but nice to have if you can swing it.

Starting out, though, I'd rather spend the $$ on kegs.

Know that if you buy used, you'll likely need to clean and recondition them (new gaskets/o-rings, new poppets).  You can buy gaskets in bulk from McMaster Carr.

A couple of years ago the used prices were higher than I think they are now, but as noted above you can get some pretty good deals on new kegs.  New kegs are shinier and shouldn't need to be reconditioned.

If you go the used route, there are a variety of manufacturers of ball-lock kegs so know that all of the posts and poppets are not necessarily interchangeable.  I found out the hard way when I disassembled my first three or four kegs.

Finally, I personally really like the smaller (3 or 2.5 gallon) kegs.  They take up less room and you can easily split batches if you like (oaking, keg hopping, whatever).  These are hard to find used unless you decide to go pin lock.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline weazletoe

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2405
  • Howland, Ohio
    • View Profile
Re: New to kegging
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2017, 01:28:08 PM »
  I would ideally like to have two kegs, because two beers are always better than one 

You know what's even better than having two beers on tap? Having three beers on tap!! Welcome to the club and the forum. You're going to love kegging!!
A man works hard all week, so he doesn't have to wear pants all weekend.

Offline hopfenundmalz

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 9003
  • Milford, MI
    • View Profile
Re: New to kegging
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2017, 02:33:53 PM »
Someday you will have to take a keg apart to clear a clogged post. This should help.
https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/attachments/0000/1312/Summerzym95-Kegging_How-To.pdf
Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild
AHA Governing Committee
BJCP National
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline BrewBama

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1768
    • View Profile
New to kegging
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2017, 08:35:12 PM »
We all started at square one and learned from others or thru trial and error. Don't be afraid to ask.

My best advice on kegging is buy spare o-rings and check/change them often. They're cheap insurance from letting your entire CO2 tank discharge while you think you are carbing your beer.

Also, get a good regulator. Buy once, cry once. I recommend Tap-Rite but shop around for the best price.   http://midwestbev.com/T752HP-02.aspx

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
« Last Edit: February 18, 2017, 08:48:17 PM by BrewBama »
Huntsville AL