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Thread: Keg System

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Macon, GA USA
    Posts
    942

    Default Keg System

    In the past when brewing beer, I have always put it in 12 oz. bottles. I would like to move up to a keg system. From what I've seen, the easiest and cheapest way is to get a used 5 gallon Cornelius soda keg and and a small CO2 bottle. Is that the best way? Could someone point me to some instructions for setting it all up?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Eagle Creek, Oregon
    Posts
    289

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Blanco, Texas
    Posts
    74

    Default

    Stay away from pin lock kegs. They are the "betamax" of homebrew kegs. Go for a ball lock keg. If you get a used keg make sure to replace the o-rings. Most ball lock keg posts require a 13/16' deep-well 12 point socket (7/8 will work too). There are some ball lock kegs that take a smaller socket, but the smaller ones are easily removed with a crescent wrench. There is not much to a keg, but just make sure you put the posts back on the same side and with the same tube (there is a long one and a short one) There is an o-ring under each post, around each post, and one lid gasket; that's it. I have rebuilt many kegs for my job at Austin Homebrew. We sell rebuilt kegs for $39.99 that have had the o-rings replaced and are clean (not sanitized of course). Kegging is one of the greatest upgrades a homebrewer can make. It makes everything sooo much easier. Growlers will allow you to take your keg beer over to friends houses. More on this later...
    Live Removals & Local Honey in Austin, Texas. www.austinbees.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,030

    Default

    Again I'm in agreement with Baloo. You'll never look back. NCJHB has a complete section on homebrew kegging, and it's a book every homebrewer should have anyways. The difference between pinlock and ball-lock is availability, ease of use, and to some extent durability (all in ball-lock's favor). Functionally they are the same. I think the 5-lb CO2 bottles are great for most homebrewers, small enough to be portable and they have enough gas even to force-carbonate a good few batches plus dispensing them. If you end up drafting tons of beer and upgrade to a 20 pounder, keep the 5 for travelling and to use while you're waiting for a convenient time to refill the 20.

    You'll LOVE kegging. Sanitize one keg instead of 50 bottles. Force-carbonate to your exact carbonation preference for that beer. Oh and did I mention BEER ON TAP .

    The one thing I'll say though is to take the time to disassemble the keg when cleaning and sanitizing, including the in and out posts. It really is easy especially with a deep socket. Also have a couple replacement gasket sets (lid o-ring, post o-rings, dip tube o-rings) and maybe even a poppet. That way you'll never be tempted to leave one on there that really should be replaced.

    And I can't stress this one enough: If you buy multiple kegs, keep the lids, poppets, posts, etc. with the keg they came from! There are a lot of kegs out there, and even the same part from another Spartanburg II or whatever may not work perfectly on a similar keg. They'll leak as often as not (meaning either empty keg and full floor in the morning or empty CO2 tank). I use a set of plastic beer cups (naturally) from our local festivals. They sit into the keg's opening but don't fall in due to their size at the top. When sanitizing or cleaning multiple kegs, put the parts from a keg into a cup, pour in sanitizer, and put the cup into the keg opening and the lid rests on top of that.

    And lastly if you're using bleach to sanitize it's time to upgrade to Star San, at least for the kegs.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Macon, GA USA
    Posts
    942

    Default

    Thanks for the great info. Force carbonation sounds great especially if it means less sediment. I can't wait to get started. A couple more questions.

    I've read where you can fill your CO2 bottles at a welding supply house. Given all gas is allowed some contaminants, do I need to look for a "food grade" CO2? Can I just pick up a CO2 tank and a regulator downtown like I would a tank of acetylene?

    I currently use the Iodine sanitizer -- Iodophor I think it's called. Is Star San better?

    Do most folks run the gas line through the fridge or just charge it when the flow is weak?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,030

    Default

    Just regular ole CO2. Typically you actually exchange tanks rather than refill them, can be a heartbreaker for folks who just bought this shiny new CO2 tank .

    Iodophor is phine. I've never been quite comfortable with the no-rinse thing with iodone, though I know it's not significant. But it can have this bloodlike flavor. It's effective though and won't eat stainless like bleach. I just happen to be personally partial to Star San for no flavor, drinkable, no rinse, and very environmentally friendly. Stuff's miraculous.

    You can charge up when needed or keep on live pressure, doesn't matter. Technically the carbonation level will fluctuate a bit with the on-and-off, but not enough you'd ever really notice. If you want it more carbonated, turn up the PSI and shake the keg a couple times, voila. Not having live pressure on also helps a lot if you do develop a leak .
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

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