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How To Keg

Let’s Keg Some Home Brew!

To start kegging your beer you need to understand the equipment needed and how to use each piece of equipment. This will help you get started and will help you better enjoy your home made beer.

If you are new to home brewing it is a good idea to start off bottling your beer. Five gallons of beer is equal to approximately 50 12 oz bottles. Any 12oz not twist off bottle will work. However, it suggested that you use the brown or amber bottles as these bottles help to protect the beer from UV light.

Just because we suggest that you start in bottles does not mean that you have to. As a matter of fact, most home brewers quickly move from bottling his or her beer to kegging the beer after a few batches are made. The idea being that kegging the beer is easier and faster than bottling, which is very true.

Equipment:

You will need food grade vinyl tubing for both the beer and the carbon dioxide (CO2); a liquid and a gas disconnect to connect to the Cornelius (corny) keg stems; a CO2 tank, a CO2 regulator, a faucet, and a keg.

Kegs:

The kegs used for home brew are usually reconditioned soda kegs. The soft drink industry use to provide soft dringk syrup for the soda fountains via stainless steel kegs, but the industry has replaced the kegs with the bag-in-box system, allowing the hobby beverage industry to have access to the soda kegs for use as beer kegs.

Two kinds of soda kegs exist that were used by Coke and Pepsi. Pepsi kegs are referred to as ball lock kegs and Coke kegs are referred to as pin lock kegs. Each style of keg refers to the type disconnect that attaches the keg. A ball lock keg uses ball bearings to connect to the keg stems and a pin lock keg attaches via pins that are attached to the stems on the keg. Ball lock are the most popular among home brewers, but both types are available. Please note that the posts are non transferable from one type of keg to another.

Because the kegs used are old soda kegs, it is imperative that you disassemble the keg and clean every part thoroughly and on occasion replace the vinyl gaskets. Every piece of the kegs is easily unscrewed and easy to maintain and clean.

Once you have a clean keg, your ready to fill it with home brew. Be sure to flush the empty keg with CO2 to help displace the oxygen before you fill your keg. This can be accomplished by attaching your CO2 line to the keg, applying some pressure to the keg, allowing a minute for the CO2 to settle in the keg, then releasing the pressure and opening the lid.

Add CO2 to the beer:

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is used to dispense the beer and in most cases to force carbonate the beer. The amount of CO2 pressure you apply to the beer is dependent upon the temperature of the beer. A discussion on pressure is located at the bottom of this information. CO2 will be absorbed into the beer through the headspace in the keg. You will regulate the amount of CO2 being added to the beer using a tank regulator. A single or double gauge regulator will accomplish this. The double gauge is more popular amongst home brewers as it will display the amount of pressure being added to the keg and the amount of pressure left in the CO2 tank, giving you an indication when to refill the tank.

Carbon Dioxide Tanks

There are two types of tanks available. These are steel tanks and aluminum tanks. The steel tanks are the old variety, are very heavy, and corrode in wet environments. The aluminum tanks offered by Learn To Brew are half the weight of the steel tanks and do not corrode like the steel tanks.

By law all tanks must be inspected and pressure tested and stamped every five years. This process of testing usually costs around 20-30 dollars per tank. Tanks can be filled and/or swapped at Learn To Brew just like propane is at major retailer.

Faucets

Home brewers use either picnic faucets or metal kegerator faucets to pour the beer. A picnic faucet is a food grade plastic faucet and pours the beer when the lever is pressed down. A metal faucet is made of stainless steel, chrome plated brass, or brass. These are the faucets used by bars and found on kegerators.

Storing the beer:

We recommend that you store your beer in a cold environment as close to 35 degrees as possible. This is the same recommendation used by bars and restaurants. The beer needs to be cold to better absorb the CO2 for the proper carbonation level and so that beer does not over foam when poured. It is common for some styles of beer to be consumed at temperatures above 35 degrees. If you are serving a beer like this, then pour the beer into a room temperature glass and it will quickly warm 10 degrees or more.

To achieve the cool temperatures desired, some home brewers purchase a chest freezer and override the freezers thermostat with an additional external thermostat. Another alternative is to use a spare refrigerator and set it at the lowest temperature possible. Both the chest coolers and the refrigerators can easily be converted into kegerators with a professional look.

Tubing and Connections

Be sure to always use food grade vinyl tubing when dispensing your beer or adding gas to the kegs.

The tubing used for the beer line is usually 3/16” inside diameter. We offer the same tubing used on professionally installed systems. This type of tubing allows for the correct restriction on the pressure and limits any heat loss in the line compared to the thin wall-tubing alternative. The length of beer line used is dependent upon the amount of pressure being added to the beer from the CO2 regulator. We will discuss this more at the end of this page.

The gas line used is either ¼” or 5/16” inside diameter. The 5/16” inside diameter is the size used on professional CO2 tank regulators.

It is common to help seal the tubing to all the connections using stainless steel screw clamps. Be sure not to over tighten these clamps as the edges of the clamp and cut through the tubing.

To direct the CO2 to multiple kegs you can use tees or air distribution manifolds. The distribution manifolds are preferred as you can turn off a line when it is not in use and will not lead nearly as much as a tee.

The disconnects are easy to attach to a keg and very easy to remove. The black disconnects are used for beer out side of the keg and the grey disconnects are used for the gas in side of the keg. The easy way to remember this is black begins with “b” and so does beer!

Force carbonation and CO2 pressure:

CO2 is very easily dissolved into beer. As you begin learning about kegging your beer, you will most likely read or hear about volumes of C02. For example you may learn that a stout will typically have fewer volumes of CO2 dissolved in it than a lager. You may even specifically see someone suggest you have 2.2 volumes of CO2 in your stout. Volumes of CO2 is a measurement of CO2 in the beer and is dependent on pressure from the regulator and the temperature of the beer. You can use the following chart to see the Volumes of CO2 in the beer at a given pressure on the regulator and the temperature of the beer. At good target for most beers is 2.57 volumes. This would correlate with a temperature of 36 degrees and 11 psi.

 

 

 

PSI

 

 

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

Temperature

35

2.34

2.43

2.52

2.62

2.73

2.83

2.93

3.02

36

2.29

2.39

2.47

2.57

2.67

2.77

2.86

2.96

37

2.24

2.34

2.42

2.52

2.62

2.72

2.8

2.9

38

2.2

2.29

2.38

2.47

2.57

2.67

2.75

2.85

39

2.15

2.25

2.34

2.43

2.52

2.61

2.7

2.8

40

2.1

2.2

2.3

2.36

2.47

2.56

2.65

2.75

41

2.06

2.16

2.25

2.35

2.43

2.52

2.6

2.7

42

2.02

2.12

2.21

2.3

2.39

2.47

2.56

2.65

43

1.99

2.08

2.17

2.25

2.34

2.43

2.52

2.6

44

1.95

2.04

2.13

2.21

2.3

2.39

2.47

2.56

45

1.91

2

2.08

2.17

2.26

2.34

2.42

2.51

 

To properly carbonate your beer you should set the head pressure to 11 psi and let the CO2 stay attached to the keg at all times at this pressure. Over time (3-4 days) the beer will reach equilibrium and carbonate the keg. Please do not shake the beer. Shaking beer causes the beer to foam in the keg. This will increase the CO2 dissolved in the beer, but will also cause the foam to form in the keg and not in the glass, leaving you with a headless, shabby looking beer.

The length of line that you will need is dependent upon the pressure applied to the keg and the restriction of the line. For 36 degrees and a pressure of 11 psi, a 4 foot 6 inch hose at 3/16 inch ID is needed. Since the hose length varies, if you purchase a system or hose from use, then tell us in the comment section at checkout what temperature you store your beer at, what pressure you dispense at and we can suggest what length you should cut the tubing. The length is usually between 3 feet and 7 feet. The proper length will allow you to pour a beer into your glass with the perfect head. You should never have a glass full of foam. If you do, give us a call and we will help you trouble shoot your kegging system and get you pour the perfect beer in not time. You can reach us at info@learntobrew.com or at 405-793-BEER (2337)



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