Homebrew beer kegging
Kegging is the process of storing your beer in a pressurized vessel. A beer tap is used to dispense the beer. Kegging is easier, faster and simpler than bottling your beer. Forget about having to scrub and sanitize all those bottles. Whether you want a pitcher of beer or just a glass, you will no longer have to pick your glass to suit the bottle just stop the tap when you’re happy. The main disadvantage of kegging is portability and chilling. Ideally you would have an old fridge that could be converted to a kegarator. For those who want to take their keg to the party you will need a draft box, basically a picnic cooler with a stainless steel coil inside that is submerged in ice and water, you hook your keg up to the coil and dispense the beer with the beer tap that is on the front of the cooler.
What is needed to Keg beer
A Co2 tank. Co2 is used to dispense the beer because it will not spoil the beer. Bigger is better when it comes to the tank, as refilling the larger tanks is only slightly more expensive than getting a small tank filled. Co2 tanks are pressurized vessels and should be treated with care. Set your tank up where it will be secure and away from any heat sources, free standing in the middle of the floor or next to a radiator is not a good idea. Secure the tank with some fastenings so it doesn’t get knocked over.
Dual Gauge Regulator: One gauge shows pressure for carbonating and dispensing in your keg. The other gauge displays how much CO2 is left in your tank. The silver disc screw on the front controls the output of the regulator in Psi. Check the carbonation table for the correct psi for your beer type.
Cornelius Kegs: These kegs come in all shapes and sizes. If you bought a new keg all you need to do is sanitize and your good to go. If you purchased an old soda keg completely dismantle the keg by taking off the body connects, dip tubes, o-rings and keg lid. Thoroughly inspect and wash all parts. Replace any parts that show wear. Use a carboy brush to clean. Never use bleach on your keg, it will damage it.
Disconnects and Hose: Plastic or steel connectors are used to connect your keg to your tap and Co2 tank. The recommended diameter is 3/16″ inner diameter tubing about 4-5 feet in length if you are storing your keg in the refrigerator.
Beer Taps: Taps can vary from a simple plastic tap to a metal tap. If you’re really ambitious you can get a tower with four taps.
Refrigeration: You can buy a Kegarator or an old fridge can easily be modified to become a Kegarator. Another option is the draft box. You could also keep your keg in a bucket of ice water; the beer is drawn from the bottom of the keg.
Filling the Keg
Give your keg a thorough cleaning before using, if you are using an old cornelius keg there may still be soda residue in the keg. Sterilize the keg with a stainless steel-safe agent such as iodophor before filling. Pressurise the keg before filling, this way you check the connections on your keg. Simply put some soapy water on the connections and check for bubbles. Once you are sure that your keg is sterilised and functional its time to fill. You will need a syphon to transfer the beer. Try to disturb the beer as little as possible during the transfer, you dont want to aerate the beer. Syphoning should be as gentle a process on the beer as possible, if you splash and aerate your beer it will become oxidised and your will go off.
Once the keg is full secure the lid, you may want to use some lubricant on the O ring seal on the lid to ensure a good seal. Although you have the keg sealed there is still a layer of oxygen sitting on top of the beer. The oxygen at the top needs to be purged and replaced with a layer of Co2. To do this pressurise the keg and then release the pressure from the keg by pulling up the pressure relief valve on the lid. Repeat the process of pressurising and purging at least 4 times.