From the HBD Archive
From: Darryl Richman <>
Subject: Cornelius Kegs
Date: 1989-08-26 14:24:38 GMT

I use a Cornelius keg setup extensively. I'm not in the trade, so I
can't clarify all questions, but I can talk about what I've got and what
I've seen others do.

First of all, there are two kinds of keg fittings. Pick one and go
with it. Colloquially, we call one type Coke and the other Pepsi.
Coca cola supplies theirs with special inlet and outlet fittings:
the inlets (for CO2) have 2 small prongs that the hose fitting
grabs and hangs onto. The outlet (product) fitting has three
prongs. The other type of fitting, which is used by the rest of
the industry, uses ball-lock type hose fittings. If you've used
compressed air, you'll be familiar with this type of connection.
The two systems are incompatible. I have a Coke setup, and I
think I'd recommend you get a Pepsi setup because in most places,
only Coca cola sells the fittings. (LA is big enough that they
actually get some competition. When I brought a CK to the AHA
national, I managed to forget to bring an outlet fitting--I spent
a whole morning talking with the hotel people and their suppliers
trying to obtain one, but only Coca Cola carries them in Cinci.)

Beyond the style of keg, you should replace the big rubber O ring
around the top and the smaller ones on the inlet and outlet fittings.
These usually irretrievably taste of soda pop (although in a pinch
I've left the originals in a caustic bath overnight; but so many
people complain of root-beer-stout, save yourself some grief and
get new ones). This advice, of course, applies only if you've gotten
a used CK (I can get them from a surplus shop here for $10 a piece.)

You'll need a CO2 line (hose) with an inlet fitting on one side;
it connects to the regulator on the other. As far as I know, a
regulator is a regulator--maybe someone else can distinguish. The
only difference I know about is that they can be one or two guage
regulators. One guage is suffcient, but you may be surprised when
you run out of CO2 at your next party. The first guage measures the
line pressure, the second, tank pressure. Depending on the carbonation
level of the beer, the length of run of the product line and the diameter
of the product hose, you'll want to serve beer with 5-15 psi. (I don't
know how to figure this, but that's what the fellow I got my stuff
from said and it has worked for me.)

The CO2 bottle must be "hydrochecked" every 5 years and the last
check is stamped on top of the bottle. My bottle is coming up on
its 5th birthday. You should also consider getting a bottle that
is shorter and squatter. That shape, although it takes up more
room in the fridge (if you put it in there), is much more stable.
Mine is more like a scuba tank, long and thin, and I'm always afraid
I'll knock the damn thing over. I've recently gone over to keeping
the bottle outside of my fridge and just running the CO2 line in past
the door seal.

The valve at the business end of the product line is called a faucet.
I have two faucets mounted on my refrigerator door, and a spare
line with a "picnic" faucet for toting beer to parties. When pouring
beer, you want it to fall as short a distance as possible, and open
the faucet full. Each time the beer passes through a necked down
area, or one that provides a lot of turbulence, you increase the
surface area to volume ratio, which brings a lot of CO2 out of
solution and causes lots of foaming. Often kegs are overprimed
at first, and I have a tendency to use my screwdriver on the inlet
vale to release all of the overpressure in the keg before hooking
it up to the CO2. Then, after the first couple of pitchers, the
pressure can be adjusted to suit.

If you prime your keg, use a lot less than you would for bottles.
It's that old surface area to volume ratio again, and you'll get
much fizzier beer if you don't. Until I gave up the practice, I
was priming English style ales with 1/4 cup of sugar and European
lagers with 1/3. I have conservative tastes, however, and you
might want to go as high as 1/2 cup.

I have gotten away from priming altogether. I let the beer clear
in secondary a while longer than normal and thenjust siphon it
into the keg. Then I set the pressure to 20 psi and shake the
keg. I do this on successive days until I'm not adding any more
CO2 (you can hear the CO2 rushing into the keg.) Not to worry
about oxidizing the beer when shaking, because most CKs don't
seal by just closing the top. You've got to "pop" them with CO2
to about 20 psi before they really seal. I let the CO2 run at
5-10 psi first to displace and oxygen and then crank it up. I do
have one keg that won't seal until it gets over 35 psi. That's
not very high since these kegs are designed to withstand 120 psi
and normal operating pressures for soda pop are 50 psi.

Well, this certainly did get long, didn't it? ;-) Good brewing
to you!

--Darryl Richman

Back New Search

The posts that comprise the Homebrew Digest Searchable Archive remain the property of their authors.
This search system is copyright © 2008 Scott Alfter; all rights reserved.