Author Topic: Finally getting back to brewing...will be a now kegging and have some questions  (Read 621 times)

Offline sienabrewer

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 75
    • View Profile
So, after taking a long hiatus from brewing for a variety of reasons I'm getting back into it. Just bought a house, which finally means I get one of the things my brewing setup has sorely missed...space. And now that my time is more limited and after a year of saving I am finally going to buy a nice kegging set up. What I have is a spare fridge that I will use to serve the beers from (cobra taps to start), and now that I have an old kegarator (not to be used for serving for a variety of reasons) I will be able to start making lagers by using it as my fermentation chamber.

My questions are around what kind of setup to get. I don't want to break the bank (trying to stay under $400), but also want to get what will work best for me. At all times I want to have two kegs tapped and/or carbonating. I've been doing some research and to start will be doing the set and forget method of carbonating. Because I want to use just one CO2 tank to serve and carb I think I will be getting a dual regulator because I'll need to carb one at some point while serving the other. Here is what I plan on getting, feel free to critique:

3 used kegs to start
1 dual regulator (this way I can carb and serve from same tank at different pressures)
1 10lb CO2 tank
All necessary parts

Questions:
1) How long should I expect a 10 lb tank to last?
2) With set and forget what is approximate carb time?
3) Best place to buy equipment? I was looking at kegconnection.com because they seem to have the cheapest kits
4) I was thinking of buying a separate 5 lb tank and regulator just for carbing kegs that way I always have two on tap to serve because I was not sure how fast the set and forget takes. Will this be overkill and/or pointless?
5) Finally, can I carb a keg at serving temps, then take it out of the fridge and store (unchilled area) for use later? Basically I want to have kegs ready to go with carbonation once one kicks, but don't have the refrigeration space. Will taking it out of the chilled environment affect the carbonation at all?

Offline mtnrockhopper

  • I spend way too much time on the AHA forum
  • ********
  • Posts: 2881
  • Delaware
    • View Profile
Gasses dissolve more easily into cold liquids, so you can definately carb at serving temp. Actually, more gas will dissolve at lower temperatures too, so you can use a lower pressure, though it may take a little longer.
Jimmy K

Delmarva United Homebrewers - President by inverse coup when the old president ousted himself.
AHA Member since 2006
BJCP: B0958

Offline eltharyon

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 74
    • View Profile
    • Barefoot Lion Brewing
I think a 5lb tank lasts for 5-6 1/5 barrels is what I read, so 10-12 1/2 barrels=a s*** load of cornies

Offline gnards

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
I started with one 5 lb tank then added second 10 lb. I set the 5 lb tank at about 5-7 lbs on the regulator for serving only. The 10 lb gets set around 15-20 and used to carb the beers..keep everything in my Keezer and the beer is carbed in about 2 weeks and tends to be best after 3.

Offline mainebrewer

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 128
  • Palermo, Maine
    • View Profile
I have a 5 lb tank that I use to carb and serve up to 5 kegs at a time. I also use it to push cleaning fluids through beer lines and kegs. Under these conditions, a tank lasts me 8-10 months.
I also use the "set and forget" carb method, it takes 5-7 days.
Regarding your question #4, I think that would be unnecessary.
You can carb at the serving temp and then remove to a warmer area without affecting the carbonation. I wouldn't put the kegs somewhere that had high temps because that will just be bad for the beer.
"If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?" Will Rogers

Offline corkybstewart

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1300
    • View Profile
I would use the 10 lb tank for carbonating and the 5 for serving.  I use a modified set and forget method to speed things up.  One the beer is at serving temp I set the regulator on my serving pressure, usually around 12-14 psi.  Then every afternoon I pull one pint of the beer.  This opens up headspace in the keg and allows more CO2 in.  My kegs are usually ready in 3-6 days.
I'd really just rather be brewing in sunny Carlsbad New Mexico

Offline timo

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 38
    • View Profile
Sounds like you have been doing some research already....good for you!!

A few lessons learned that some of us have painfully gone through:

It costs almost the same to fill a 5 pound cylinder as a 10 pound cylinder. You figure out the cost benefit. I have two ten pounders, once for travel and one stays wit hthe kegerator. When one is depleted I have a backup (came in handy at deercamp to have the spare).

I really lost my butt a few times when starting out because of the seals on the keg not being 100% sealed. Leaving the regulator open to feed my taps was what I wanted to do. A trip back to the gas place two days later with an empty tank happened more than a few times for me. To fix this problem, I never leave my regulator open for long periods of time. If the kegs stay pressurized when left unused for a few days then you will be OK and shouldnt waste gas.

I recommend replacing all of the o-rings on old kegs you buy. I have replaced every o-ring on all of the dozen or so kegs I have and it was well worth it, it helped solve the problem I had mentioned above.

As for carbonating my beer, my SOP is to hit the beer with 30 PSI as soon as I keg the beer andc then let it sit in the fridge for a few days. Thenm hit it again. When I am ready to pour the beer I releae all gas and hit it with serving pressiure. It is NOT scientific, but being and engineer I get tired of being scientific sometimes and just go with what works well for me.

For filling the kegs, its easy.  I only use the 7.9g plastic buckets with spigots. I clean the keg and fully fill with Co2...purging all the air. I attach a drain hose to the fermenter then drain out the first two pints, they will be yeasty. Then I snake the hose down into the keg and fill from the bottom up, pushing out the Co2. It never touches air, I even don't disturb the Co2 blanket on the fermented beer when its draining.

Hope these and the other comments give you some new ideas.


Cheers and beers!!

Tim O
To ensure perfect aim, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.This works in brewing, too.

Offline Wheat_Brewer

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 206
  • Bad Bunny Brewing
    • View Profile
Sounds like you have been doing some research already....good for you!!

A few lessons learned that some of us have painfully gone through:

It costs almost the same to fill a 5 pound cylinder as a 10 pound cylinder. You figure out the cost benefit. I have two ten pounders, once for travel and one stays wit hthe kegerator. When one is depleted I have a backup (came in handy at deercamp to have the spare).

I really lost my butt a few times when starting out because of the seals on the keg not being 100% sealed. Leaving the regulator open to feed my taps was what I wanted to do. A trip back to the gas place two days later with an empty tank happened more than a few times for me. To fix this problem, I never leave my regulator open for long periods of time. If the kegs stay pressurized when left unused for a few days then you will be OK and shouldnt waste gas.

I recommend replacing all of the o-rings on old kegs you buy. I have replaced every o-ring on all of the dozen or so kegs I have and it was well worth it, it helped solve the problem I had mentioned above.

As for carbonating my beer, my SOP is to hit the beer with 30 PSI as soon as I keg the beer andc then let it sit in the fridge for a few days. Thenm hit it again. When I am ready to pour the beer I releae all gas and hit it with serving pressiure. It is NOT scientific, but being and engineer I get tired of being scientific sometimes and just go with what works well for me.

For filling the kegs, its easy.  I only use the 7.9g plastic buckets with spigots. I clean the keg and fully fill with Co2...purging all the air. I attach a drain hose to the fermenter then drain out the first two pints, they will be yeasty. Then I snake the hose down into the keg and fill from the bottom up, pushing out the Co2. It never touches air, I even don't disturb the Co2 blanket on the fermented beer when its draining.

Hope these and the other comments give you some new ideas.


Cheers and beers!!

Tim O


+1 to the lessons learned, plus my own that caused me a few frustrated trips to the LHBS for some CO2...hand tighten the regulator to the tank and then tighten 1/4 turn with a wrench. 
Homebrewing isn't my obsession, it's my life calling, there's a difference.

AHA Lifetime Member

Offline euge

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 7223
  • Estilo Casero
    • View Profile
Welcome back sienabrewer.

A LOT of good comments here. The 10 will be better in the long run and will pay for itself over the lifetime of the tank. I still use cobra taps in my 5th year of brewing. :D And, there are other ways to carb a keg. Sugar priming for instance. However, I just chill a full keg and fill it 5-6 times with the CO2 to 40-45 psi over a week's time. Carbs up nicely and I haven't lost a tank to leaky plumbing.

I go to fire-extinguisher businesses or welding supply to get my 5# filled for less than $20 while I wait.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman