Author Topic: Keggerator Anchor!  (Read 2195 times)

Offline jwaldner

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Keggerator Anchor!
« on: August 08, 2010, 02:15:16 PM »
I just spent several weeks building what appears to be a very nice looking keggerator but may turn out only to be a very nice boat anchor! 

I kegged my first beer (Hefeweizen) 6 days ago and carbonated it to 2.7 vol. at 38F and am now only getting a lot of foam (spraying out!) and a flat beer. I even compensated for my elevation since I'm at 4,300 feet and added an additional 2 lbs of pressure from 13.34 to 15.34 psi. I'm using 5 feet of 3/16 ID tubing so I thought the system would be fairly balanced with 3.0 of loss per foot but it seems not.

I've read some say you need to dispsense at a lower CO2 level and others say you need to leave it where it is because that's the style otherwise I'll lose carbonation over time. In addition, I've also read it only takes 3 days to force carbonate and others say it takes 7 or more and that's just the set it and forget it method.

I would greatly appreciate it if anyone can shed some light on my situation and provide some troubleshooting tips so I can get this corrected before my next fishing trip.

Thanks,

Jay

Offline beerocd

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Re: Keggerator Anchor!
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2010, 02:20:11 PM »
What's your line length? What PSI are you pushing at?
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Keggerator Anchor!
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2010, 02:30:35 PM »
You need longer lines.  You're not going to lose 3 psi per foot in 3/16 id tubing, it's more like 2-2.2.  Since you carbonated at 15 psi, start with 8 feet of line.  If it doesn't pour, cut off a few inches and try again.  Repeat until you like the pour.
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Offline jptheelder

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Re: Keggerator Anchor!
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2010, 03:17:09 PM »
Are you pouring @ 15psi? way too much. once carbonated, i turn mine down to about 5. each system is a little different. over time you do lose some carbonation if the psi are turned down like that but it's not that bad and slower than you may think. I try to carbonate for a week or sow, but i'm not sure why. it's just the way I have done it from the start.

Offline jwaldner

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Re: Keggerator Anchor!
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2010, 03:38:10 PM »
Thanks for the quick responses.

I'm using 5 feet of line and pushing about 15 psi.

Regarding the line loss, I was going by the Draught Beer Quality Manual put out by the Brewer's Association which stated for 3/16" diamater vinyl tubing there should be 3.0 lbs/ft of restriction. Maybe that's just in theory but not practical.

Dialing down the pressure helps with the dispensing but the beer still remains flat. Will it take another full week to carbonate?

Thanks again

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Keggerator Anchor!
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2010, 03:42:32 PM »
15 psi is the right range for pouring a hefeweizen at 38F, my chart says that's 2.8 volumes of CO2.  You just need to extend the lines.

I carbonate and serve at the same pressure, no worries that way.  I just use a longer line for higher carbonation beers.

If you want to speed up carbonation, you can rock the keg to get it to go into solution faster.  You can also buy a keg lid from morebeer that has an carbonation stone attached, it's great for carbonating kegs quickly.  I don't recommend going with higher pressure to carbonate faster, you usually just end up with overcarbonated beer.  The other thing is, if it is pouring too fast you'll lose a lot more CO2 so it may seem flatter than if you had a smoother pour.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline blatz

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Re: Keggerator Anchor!
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2010, 07:41:26 AM »
you can look into building a flow gate which will allow you to use a standard length for all carbonation levels and have perfect pours. 

I have three of them and even hefeweiss pours just right.

I know one of the brew clubs out there has a 'how to' on the flow gate - will have to do some digging to find it.
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Offline narvin

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Re: Keggerator Anchor!
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2010, 07:57:27 AM »
Foam spraying out?  Are you sure you don't have a hop leaf clogged in the poppet on the liquid out post?  15 psi is somewhat high for serving with 5 feet if 3/16 tubing, but it's not THAT high.

I also wouldn't recommend turning down the pressure for serving.  This will work if you empty the keg in a week or so, but otherwise you're going to get CO2 coming out of solution and other problems related to having an unbalanced system.  Carb at serving temperature.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Keggerator Anchor!
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2010, 10:51:23 AM »
I know one of the brew clubs out there has a 'how to' on the flow gate - will have to do some digging to find it.

The Falcons have this one:

http://www.maltosefalcons.com/tech/resistive-gate-draft-beer-flow-control

That looks pretty cool, I might have to give it a try for my nitro beers.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline blatz

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Re: Keggerator Anchor!
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2010, 11:37:05 AM »
That's the one - thanks!!
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Offline jwaldner

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Re: Keggerator Anchor!
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2010, 04:23:08 PM »
Ok, I'm officially going crazy on this one.

I've changed the temp several times, waited days and tested and still get foam. I've lengthened the hose from 5 to 10 feet and still get foam!

I'm at a lost here on this one and would appreciate anymore suggestions on how to get the right pour from a hefeweizen or clues as to what I've done wrong.

Thanks,

Jay

Offline dhacker

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Re: Keggerator Anchor!
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2010, 05:15:23 PM »
I'll ask some basic questions, and please I'm not trying to insult your kegging knowledge.  ;)

Are you opening the faucets full with some authority and not partially pulling the tap handle open?

Are you sure the keg was absolutely clean with no debris in the pickup tube that could be causing the foam?

Are you getting an aggressive stream of foam even with 10 ft. of line? If so, your regulator pressure gauge may be deceiving you.


Just a few thoughts . .   
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Offline jwaldner

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Re: Keggerator Anchor!
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2010, 05:54:57 PM »
Don't worry about the insults, this is my first keg so I just want to figure it out before I waste my next two or three kegs as well.

Are you opening the faucets full with some authority and not partially pulling the tap handle open?

      Yes. We considered that as well being we were newbies and thought maybe we're just pouring it wrong. We downloaded the draught manual and read up on pouring techniques and hold the glass at a 45 degree angle untill about half full (with foam of course) then stand it up to finish the pour.

Are you sure the keg was absolutely clean with no debris in the pickup tube that could be causing the foam?

     I believe so. I cleaned the the keg by soaking it and it's parts in PBW for a day and then sanitized it. I didn't have anything to scrub the dip tube with but it appeared cleaned after the PBW soak.

Are you getting an aggressive stream of foam even with 10 ft. of line? If so, your regulator pressure gauge may be deceiving you.

     Not as much now that I have 10 feet of tubing but still 3/4 glass of foam. I also thought maybe my regulator wasn't working properly but it's a brand new one. Is there anyway to cheaply measure the pressure it's putting out to see if it's even close to what it should be?

Thanks for the help

Offline dhacker

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Re: Keggerator Anchor!
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2010, 06:06:46 PM »
Two more questions . . .

Are you getting the foam on the first pull, or are are successive pulls (in a somewhat rapid fashion) getting the same amount of foam?

How much line from where the beer exits the refrigerator to the faucet?
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Keggerator Anchor!
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2010, 06:42:52 PM »
I would turn the gas off at the regulator and vent the keg.  Then seal the keg and try to pour.  Slowly turn up the pressure at the regulator until you get the pour that you like.  Check what the regulator says the psi is at that point and report back.

It's possible that your regulator is wrong, but it's also possible that your hose is not as restrictive as you think it is.  Are you sure it's 3/16" and not 1/4" or 3/8"?  That will make a huge difference in how long your line needs to be.  Or it could just be that the line you have is unusually less restrictive than normal for that diameter.  Once you figure out the psi that gets you a nice pour with 10 feet of line, you can figure out how many feet it will take to get a nice pour at 15 psi.
Tom Schmidlin