From the HBD Archive
From: aimla!serpentine!ken@suntzu.West.Sun.COM (Ken Ellinwood)
Subject: Re: CO2 keg system
Date: 1990-01-01 01:06:12 GMT

> I've been interested in implementing a CO2 keg system, rather than
> going through the tediusness of bottling. I'm soliciting advice from
> ANYBODY out there who has experience with these things.


My brewing partners and I have been kegging in 5 gal Cornelious soda
kegs for about six months now. Our early efforts were plagued by
mistakes and faulty equipment, so it gives me great pleasure to help
other brewers from falling into the same traps.

Our setup consists of the kegs, a small "5 pound" CO2 tank, a regulator, and
manifold that splits the regulated gas into four hoses each of which has
a quick disconnect for attatching the gas to the kegs. Four 8 foot, 3/16
inner diameter hoses with quick disconnects at one end and standard
dispensing valves at the other end. Four kegs, the tank, regulator,
manifold and taps all fit into a large refrigerator dedicated to hosting
this equiptment and our beer. The disconnects that attatch to the kegs
come in two types, so like us, you must make sure that anytime you
purchase kegs or disconnects the keg valves and disconnects are the same
type as those you already own.

We purchased some of this equiptment used and some new. Beware that
used equiptment can be hard to find, but if you can find it used you
will save lots of money. The tank and regulator we bought used for a
grand total of $35. The regulator had to be overhauled ($20) and the
tank inspected and tested (a procedure that all pressurised tanks must
to through every 5 years - $12). A new tank and regulator set would
probably come to about $180. Some of the kegs we got used for about
$15 each. The ones that we bought new came for $65 each at a beverage
supply house. I can't rember exactly how much the manifold with hoses
and connectors cost (we purchased these new). I'd be surprised if it
was much more than about $50. Each "tap" (quick disconnect, 8 foot
hose, and dispensing valve) came to about $12 each new). The
refrigerator was a gift, and therefore cost us nothing. All of this
equipment was obtained from three different vendors - one homebrew
shop, one beverage dispensing equipment company, and one draught
specialist company ( a company that specializes in equipment for
dispensing beer - most of thier customers are bars and restaurants).
When all the dust had settled, the bill was probably between $350 and
$400.

Be sure to purchase new o-rings for any used kegs that you buy. Word
on the street has it that old o-rings can sour the tast of your beer.
We took this advice right from the start and have never had any beers
that came out tasting like old Pepsi syrup.

Make sure that the system does not leak CO2. Even the smallest leak
can cause your tank to go dry in a matter of days. Submerging the hoses
and connections under water while the pressure is on will reveal any leaks
in the form of streams of bubbles rising to the surface.

When the beer is ready to be kegged, sanitize the keg and rack the beer
into it. If you are naturally carbonating the beer, add 1/4 the priming
ingredient (corn sugar or malt) than what you would add when bottling.
To much primer will cause the beer to be overcarbonated. Moisten the
seal of the keg, close it and add a small amount of pressure from the
tank to ensure that the seal is closed. Some kegs will not hold pressure
if the pressure is built up slowly (i.e. from natural carbonation) but
will if you put a little in (5 psi) from the tank when you first close
the seal.

The beer may be artificially carbonated by holding the keg under
pressure of 12 to 15 psi while the keg is kept cold (40F) for a week or
two. Do not be tempted to increase the pressure to carbonate faster -
this will result in overcarbonated beer and you will dispense pure
foam. The 8 foot 3/16" hose that we dispense through restricts the
pressure enough that the keg pressure does not need to be dropped
before dispensing the beer. In other words we carbonate and dispense
at the same pressure. Before we had the 8 foot hoses, we were forced
to cut off the gas to the keg, release gas to reduce the pressure in
the keg, pour a glass or two of beer, and the re-pressurize the keg to
maintain carbonation. This was wasting an incredible amount of CO2.
It is important that the beer does not flow to quickly from the tap or
the beer foams to much and that the pressure inside the keg is
maintained at around 12 to 15 psi in order to have carbonated beer.

All in all, with the cost of the equipment and the problems that we
encountered early on, kegging is the only way to go and I highly
recommend it.

Ken Ellinwood
American Interactive Media
11050 Santa Monica Blvd, Suite 300
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(213) 444-6554

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