Author Topic: New keg system  (Read 2161 times)

Offline monomer77

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New keg system
« on: September 13, 2010, 07:21:23 PM »
Comments appreciated

I live in Illinois. I built a 2X6 collar around a little chest freezer. I have a Johnson A419 digital temp control device that appears to be working pretty well. The temp controll measures about 4 degrees hotter than the thermometer inside the freezer. It'll hold 3 kegs and a CO2 tank on the compressor hump side. I currently own 3 ball lock used kegs. I soaked the kegs in PBW then sanitized. I replaced all gaskets/o-rings.

I have a 4 way manifold for the gas. I have a 10# Co2 tank. I will have 3 taps. One leftover gasline will be for misc. I think I can use this line to fill a tank with CO2 or carb a keg then set aside without it tapped.

I'll run  4.5 feet of beer line from the faucets to the kegs. QUESTION - does the gas line lenght matter like the beer hose lenght? Can I run a 2 foot gas line from the CO2 tank to the manifold?

Real world QUESTIONS - Once I put beer in a keg, what do I do? Seal the top, then what? Should I just attach the gas line and leave the gas at at 10 pounds until in comes out? Do I dial down the pressure after the beer is carbonated in a few days?

Essentially, I think I have everything I need. Now how do I use this stuff? Much obliged. Beers depend on it. One English mild fermenting since Sat. One IPA to be on tap; will start this coming Sunday.

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: New keg system
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2010, 07:36:24 PM »
I'll run  4.5 feet of beer line from the faucets to the kegs.
This might not be long enough.  You have to balance your system, and in my experience the stated psi/foot is often too low.  So don't go cutting anything just yet.

QUESTION - does the gas line lenght matter like the beer hose lenght? Can I run a 2 foot gas line from the CO2 tank to the manifold?
No.  Yes.
As in no, gas line length doesn't matter, and yes, you can run a 2 foot length from the tank to manifold, and from the manifold to the kegs.  Use however much you need to make it easy to connect/disconnect kegs.

Real world QUESTIONS - Once I put beer in a keg, what do I do? Seal the top, then what? Should I just attach the gas line and leave the gas at at 10 pounds until in comes out?
Seal it and put pressure on it.  Minimum of 5 psi to seal the keg.  How high you go depends on the carbonation level you want in your beer and the temperature of the beer.  The volumes of CO2 desired in a beer is typically determined by the style.  You can find some values here or several other places, that's just the first one I googled.  When you know your temperature and desired volumes of CO2 you can look it up in a carbonation chart like this one, again the first one I googled.  I highly recommend carbonating at serving pressure, it takes a little longer but is really easy with no danger of overshooting on the carb.

Do I dial down the pressure after the beer is carbonated in a few days?
I wouldn't, just leave it at serving temperature/pressure and it will equilibrate to the right level of carbonation.  Then cut your serving hoses to the proper length for the psi you are serving your beer with.

The other option of course, is to carbonate it to the proper level, then adjust the gas while you're pouring to get a nice pour.  Since you're using a manifold instead of a bank of secondary regulators, this is the most realistic option if you're trying to serve beers with different CO2 levels.  Just remember to turn the gas in each keg back up to the carbonation pressure when you're done pouring at your serving pressure.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline dhacker

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Re: New keg system
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2010, 09:36:15 AM »
Ditto to everything Tom said.
Just brew it...

Offline hamiltont

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Re: New keg system
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2010, 11:12:38 AM »
Ya, what he said ^^^. Only thing I'd add is start with one beer line say 10' & adjust it until you get the length that works best at the pressure you've chosen (usually around 9-10 lbs.) Once you find the sweet spot you can cut the other beer lines.  I'm currently running 8' lines @ 9 PSI.  You're system will be different. Cheers!!!
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Online theDarkSide

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Re: New keg system
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2010, 12:23:56 PM »
Ok...dumb question number 1:

Based on what you are saying above, can I carbonate all the beer to the same pressure ( 11 psi, beer at 40F giving approx. 2.4 volumes ) and then adjust the line length to the appropriate style?  So if I want my IPA at 2.4 volumes, I'd probably use a 5' line.  But for my mild, I may want 1.7 volumes, so I would install a longer line to lower the co2?

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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: New keg system
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2010, 12:36:14 PM »
No, it doesn't work like that.  If the line gets too long the beer just stops flowing.  Carbonate the beers at whatever psi is appropriate for the style and temp.  So 11 psi at 40F for the IPA, and 5 psi for the mild (I don't like to go under 5 psi, even though that's more than 1.7 volumes).

Since you're using a splitter instead of a bank of secondary gauges, when you serve do it at whatever pressure gets you a good pour from your line length.  If you're serving at 11 psi in my experience 5 feet isn't long enough with 3/16" line and you get a glass of foam.  So either dial the gas down or use longer lines.

When you are done for the night, you need to fix the gas levels in the kegs again.  So turn it down for the mild, vent the keg to get rid of the excess pressure, and put 5 psi back on the keg.  Then take the gas off, turn it up to 11 psi, and make sure you have that much on your IPA keg.  Repeat as necessary for however many kegs you have.  It's a bit of a pain, but I did it for years until I got the secondary regulators.
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Offline Pawtucket Patriot

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Re: New keg system
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2010, 12:57:55 PM »
Good suggestions in this thread. But, in the interest of keeping things simple, I would suggest settling on a pressure and keg temp setting that works for a range of styles and call it good. No need to keep dialing the CO2 pressure up and down for each style/keg. Sure, your mild won't be exactly to style if you serve it at 2.5 volumes, but it's less of a hassle. Plus, you won't have to monkey with the pressure when you want to pour a couple different pints from different kegs at one time (e.g., when you have a drinking buddy over -- sometimes you might want to be your own drinking buddy too :P).  I've got my pressure set at 13 psi and temperature at 40F across the board. Works and tastes fine!
« Last Edit: September 16, 2010, 01:40:36 PM by Pawtucket Patriot »
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Offline phillamb168

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Re: New keg system
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2010, 01:52:30 PM »
GREAT THREAD. Thanks a bunch to everyone for posting all this, it's going to be really really helpful for me once I get my kegs.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: New keg system
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2010, 02:57:32 PM »
Good suggestions in this thread. But, in the interest of keeping things simple, I would suggest settling on a pressure and keg temp setting that works for a range of styles and call it good.
Yes, that totally works too.  Good point. :)
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Offline hamiltont

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Re: New keg system
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2010, 06:39:36 AM »
Good suggestions in this thread. But, in the interest of keeping things simple, I would suggest settling on a pressure and keg temp setting that works for a range of styles and call it good.
Yes, that totally works too.  Good point. :)
That's exactly what I do...  When I brew something that just doesn't fit the ~2.5 range, such as a Weissbier, it gets bottled instead.  Cheers!!!
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Offline monomer77

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Re: New keg system
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2010, 06:23:41 PM »
what do you mean balance the line? Cut 10 foot then see if it flows through, if not then cut a foot off? Thanks

Offline bluesman

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Re: New keg system
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2010, 06:38:25 PM »
Good suggestions in this thread. But, in the interest of keeping things simple, I would suggest settling on a pressure and keg temp setting that works for a range of styles and call it good. No need to keep dialing the CO2 pressure up and down for each style/keg. Sure, your mild won't be exactly to style if you serve it at 2.5 volumes, but it's less of a hassle. Plus, you won't have to monkey with the pressure when you want to pour a couple different pints from different kegs at one time (e.g., when you have a drinking buddy over -- sometimes you might want to be your own drinking buddy too :P).  I've got my pressure set at 13 psi and temperature at 40F across the board. Works and tastes fine!

+1

Sometimes keeping it simpler is just plain better.  ;)
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Offline HydraulicSammich

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Re: New keg system
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2010, 07:48:18 PM »
Quote
Quote from: monomer77 on September 13, 2010, 07:21:23 PM
Do I dial down the pressure after the beer is carbonated in a few days?
I wouldn't, just leave it at serving temperature/pressure and it will equilibrate to the right level of carbonation.  Then cut your serving hoses to the proper length for the psi you are serving your beer with.

The other option of course, is to carbonate it to the proper level, then adjust the gas while you're pouring to get a nice pour.  Since you're using a manifold instead of a bank of secondary regulators, this is the most realistic option if you're trying to serve beers with different CO2 levels.  Just remember to turn the gas in each keg back up to the carbonation pressure when you're done pouring at your serving pressure.


What I am still a little confused about and would appreciate some clarification.  For example, if I had an amber and was slow carbonating as per the Handy Dandy Slow Force Carb Chart, I would be set at 13 lbs @ 38 degees.  In a week or two, do I dial down the pressure to serve or leave at13 lbs until the keg is emply?
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: New keg system
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2010, 09:16:39 PM »
what do you mean balance the line? Cut 10 foot then see if it flows through, if not then cut a foot off? Thanks
There are equations you can use but they don't work all that well IME.  So yes, the easiest thing to do is to cut an extra long length of hose and try it, then cut it off 6 inches or a foot at a time until you like the pour.

What I am still a little confused about and would appreciate some clarification.  For example, if I had an amber and was slow carbonating as per the Handy Dandy Slow Force Carb Chart, I would be set at 13 lbs @ 38 degees.  In a week or two, do I dial down the pressure to serve or leave at13 lbs until the keg is emply?
You leave it at 13psi until the keg is empty.  You can dial it down if you want to or need to for whatever reason, but the beer will get flatter as the keg empties.
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Offline monomer77

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Re: New keg system
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2010, 06:32:50 PM »
There are equations you can use but they don't work all that well IME.  So yes, the easiest thing to do is to cut an extra long length of hose and try it, then cut it off 6 inches or a foot at a time until you like the pour.


Do I have to try this with beer or can I use carbed up water?