My kids just gave me a kegging system for Christmas

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My kids just gave me a kegging system for Christmas

Postby billvelek » Mon Dec 25, 2006 3:43 pm

My kids just gave me a kegging system for Christmas, with the option of exchanging out whatever I need at our local homebrewshop ... since the kids weren't really sure what they were getting. Anyway, they gave me the regulator (two gauges on it so I assume that it is a dual-pressure system), hoses, CO2 bottle, etc., plus a themostat and instructions for converting a freezer, and one reconditioned 5-gallon 'Pepsi' cornie keg. Before I do anything with this stuff, I'm looking for suggestions/advice regarding which variety of keg is better -- pin-lock or ball-lock? I'm speaking now about maintenance problems as well as availability of additional kegs and replacement parts. Naturally, if I convert a freezer I'm going to want several kegs ... all of the same type. Also, in regard to a freezer conversion, I'm also considering the merits of something like a dorm-type refrigerator with a jockey-box inside and just storing the kegs warm; any comments about that will be appreciated, too.

Thanks for any advice. Boy, it's going to be nice to cut back on bottling. I have three batches in secondary right now: an IPA, a California Common, and a Cherry Wheat. :D

Cheers.

Bill Velek
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Postby ColoradoBrewer » Tue Dec 26, 2006 8:58 am

Wow, Bill, those are some great kids you have! A lot of regulators have two gauges but only serve at one pressure. Look at the gauges. Does one go up to about 2500-3000 psi and the other to around 60 psi? If so it's a singe pressure system. Nothing wrong with that, it's just what it is. The high pressure gauge is supposed to indicate how much gas (CO2) is in the tank, but be aware that it isn't like the gas gauge on your car. It reads vapor pressure not volume so it won't move much, if at all, until the tank is almost empty. When full it will read abround 900 psi depending on the ambient temperature. The other gauge (0-60) is the pressure you're putting on the beer in the keg. You can dispense more than one keg with this type of system, but you need to "T" off of the regulator and of course all the kegs will be at the same carbonation level. You can add a secondary regulator to have more than one dispensing pressure.

The style of keg is a matter of personal preference. One isn't inherently better than the other. That said, the Pepsi (ball lock) style seem to be more prevalent and readily available.

Getting your system set up may take some trial and error, but there is plenty of info on the web and in the various beer forums to help you. Here is a good primer to get you started.

Enjoy your new kegging system!
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Postby billvelek » Wed Dec 27, 2006 12:25 am

ColoradoBrewer wrote:Wow, Bill, those are some great kids you have! A lot of regulators have two gauges but only serve at one pressure. Look at the gauges. Does one go up to about 2500-3000 psi and the other to around 60 psi? If so it's a singe pressure system. ... snip
Yep ... that's what they are ... one gauge goes to 3000 and the other to 60. I understand now. Thanks. The kids bought this at our local homebrew shop and there are absolutely no directions/instructions or literature of any kind. I don't even know if everything is there; I do know that there is no tap handle (it that's what you call it), but there is a threaded stud to screw one onto the tap. I'm also disappointed that when I opened the Pepsi corney keg, there was a very small amount of sour beer in the bottom, indicating that it had been used for home brew (maybe a trade-in or a return), ... but it wasn't even cleaned out before it was sold. I filled it about half-way with hot water and a little bit of soap to rinse it, clamped the lid in place, shook it up real good, and soap suds sizzled out around the gasket of the lid. Maybe I didn't have it centered exactly, but this doesn't inspire a lot of confidence, so I intend to take it back to the HBS and ask for a different one. As I recall, the HBS is charging $40.00 for these cornies, so I think it is fair to assume that they have been rebuilt with new seals and gaskets ... otherwise I'm thinking that they are probably a rip-off. When I spoke to my daughter about all of this, she said that the HBS had quoted $150.00 to her when she called them, but then when she went to pick the gear up, it was $250.00. That is what they paid for a new pressure regulator with two gauges, one tap without a handle, two plastic hoses (one is reinforced) with plastic fittings of some sort, one used Pepsi corney keg, a wrench of some sort that I guess is used to tighten some fitting, a thermostat kit to convert a freezer, and a paperback book that I can get on the Internet for about $12.00. The CO2 tank was not included; my son got that separately. I have no idea what this stuff should cost, so I don't know whether they got ripped off or not. But I do think it was very unprofessional to provide a DIRTY keg and no instructions whatsoever. I presume that this must have been an oversight, but I will be taking the stuff back down there in the next few days to discuss the matter with the owner.

Anyway, I am very excited to be on the verge of kegging.

Cheers.

Bill Velek
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Postby ColoradoBrewer » Wed Dec 27, 2006 6:23 am

Hi Bill, I don't have a lot of time as I have to leave for work shortly, but here are a couple of things you should know. It's not uncommon for used kegs to have some of whatever they were last used for in the bottom. In fact if it might actually be a good thing that yours had beer in it because you don't need to be concerned about any residual soda flavors or odors. I don't know if the kegs were advertised as new or not, but $40 would a good deal for a reconditioned keg not so good for an unreconditioned one. Of course if it was supposed to be reconditioned it should have been clean as a whistle. As for the soap bubbles coming out the lid, that's normal if the keg wasn't under pressure. It takes a few psi for the o-ring to make a seal.

If no one addresses some of your other concerns I'll be back to help with those as well.

Cheers,
John
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RE: KIDZ!

Postby wottaguy » Fri Dec 29, 2006 7:18 am

Hiya Bill...

Can I "borrow" those kids of yours for a while?? I could use some new stuff over here as well...LOL!!!

I would go with the ball lock kegs as the pin locks are getting harder to find as well as the parts for them. I have been using a small converted freezer with a temp controller attached for over a year now without any problems. I added a cedar collar around the top of it then installed my 4 taps through the collar as well as the co2 hoses and the rest of the lines. I keep my Co2 bottle (10 lb'r) outside of the freezer. This allows me more room inside and a more accurate gage reading from the co2 bottle. I can fit 4 cornies max and also store some extra hops and bottled beer in it as well. I first had a regular fridge, but burned it out in less than a year, then purchased my chest freezer at a scratch and dent place brand new and at a good price! It has never given me any problems! If you need pictures of my setup just let me know.
Hope this helps!
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Postby wwarrior152 » Fri Jan 12, 2007 8:00 pm

Hiya Bill:

I'm pretty much in the same boat as you are. I found a small chest freezer at scratch and dent sale. I found my tap setup from a BBQ kitchen on sale for half off (keg connector, tower, tap, drain pan, and four bowls for lemon,lime ect
all for like 75.00
I went to a beverage supplier (sets up small soda dispensers) I bought two rebuilt kegs for 35.00 a piece.
The Regulator I picked up with a bunch of other brewing equipment and my friend gave me a tank. I figure all together I spent about 225.00 for the whole setup.
I wonder which is better priming carbonation or forced carbonation. I understand forced carbonation is faster. I figure it will take a little practice. I hope it doesn't mess up a good beer.
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Natural Conditioning or Forced Carbonation?

Postby billvelek » Fri Jan 12, 2007 10:03 pm

I guess it depends partly upon circumstances. but from what I've read, the yeast from natural conditioning clears up after the first couple of beers that are drawn, but other than that ... I don't know if there is any difference. Would like to read some opinions based on actual experience using both methods.

Cheers.

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Forced Carbonation

Postby brewmeisterintng » Fri Jan 12, 2007 10:35 pm

Sometime ago I wrote in asking how I could speed up the bottling process. It was taking me four hours form start to finish getting the beer from the secondary into sanitized bottles. Then I had to wait for the carbonation process. Not any more... I have my wife
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Re: Natural Conditioning or Forced Carbonation?

Postby ColoradoBrewer » Sat Jan 13, 2007 7:20 am

billvelek wrote:I guess it depends partly upon circumstances. but from what I've read, the yeast from natural conditioning clears up after the first couple of beers that are drawn, but other than that ... I don't know if there is any difference. Would like to read some opinions based on actual experience using both methods.

Cheers.

Bill Velek
You're right Bill, the yeast sediment will clear after the first few pours. Some people also snip about an inch off the dip tube just to be sure they don't pick any (or as much) sediment.

As for the difference between forced and natural carbonation; there is some debate on which is better. Those in the natural carbonation camp say it produces finer bubbles and that they can detect a subtle off flavor with forced carbonation. I personally have never detected either one and think it's all in their head. Those in the forced carbonation camp, like me, say CO2 is CO2 and the source really doesn't matter. And I agree with brewmeisterintng that with the forced method you can more precisely control the level of carbonation. As there seems to be well credentialed homebrewers in each camp I guess you'll have to try both methods and decide for yourself.
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Postby slothrob » Sat Jan 13, 2007 9:52 am

Another approach is to secondary in the kegs, without priming, adding just enough CO2, from a tank, to set the lid. By the time the secondary is finished, the beer is mostly carbonated. Connect to the CO2 line to dispense without having to wait for forced carbonation, yet you can still fine tune the carbonation level with the regulator.
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It's the brewers call

Postby brewmeisterintng » Sat Jan 13, 2007 6:36 pm

For me, I would rather secondary in a glass carboy giving the yeast a chance to drop out. I haven't tried doing a secondary in a keg but there isn't that much activity when I transfer that would carbonate my brew. Besides I harvest the yeast off the secondary for a yeast starter. I couldn't very well do that with the keg.
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Postby soyousee » Sun Jan 14, 2007 10:00 am

It looks like all has been said, but would like to add that you would be able to get 4 corneys on ebay for 100.00 including shipping. Some are cleaner that others. PBW is an excellent cleaner and of course replace the gaskets for maybe 4.00 per set. I put 3 gallons of water in corney and add PBW, let it set for a day and turn upside down and let it set another day, pour in next corney and do the same again. Make a strong mixture like 2 tablespoons in the 3 gal. and it will do a good job on four kegs. Replace all gaskets using a food grade lubricant and you are set to go. If top leaks when you turn it upside down, remove lid gasket and cover it with the lubricant to stop leak. Make this to clean beer tube after soak.
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Re: It's the brewers call

Postby slothrob » Sun Jan 14, 2007 10:44 am

brewmeisterintng wrote:For me, I would rather secondary in a glass carboy giving the yeast a chance to drop out. I haven't tried doing a secondary in a keg but there isn't that much activity when I transfer that would carbonate my brew. Besides I harvest the yeast off the secondary for a yeast starter. I couldn't very well do that with the keg.


I often drop another point during secondary, which is about what you need for priming.

It's also recommended to harvest yeast from primary, as the yeast from secondary is more stressed, as well as being selected for weaker floculation and greater attenuation.
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Still learning

Postby brewmeisterintng » Mon Jan 15, 2007 10:08 am

I was collecting off the secondary because of all the crap that settles out after time during the primary. My thought process was that I was collecting a cleaner/ purer yeast. After doing a web search I found that I was wrong just proving that no body knows it all. Thanks for the education.
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Postby dmccrackin » Fri Dec 12, 2008 1:20 am

I just got my kegging equip too. The pricing is reasonable for what you got, although local HBS always are a little more expensive than the Internet. As for the dirty keg, this seems to be the norm, so I wouldn't go complaining. You need to get some PBW to clean the keg, and Star San to sanitize it. You will be doing this each time you empty it. Get a fridge or freezer off of craigs list. You should be able to find one free or cheap within a month or less. You don't really need the temp control if you get a fridge. There is plenty of info on the Internet about all this stuff. You can also listen to the Sunday Show on Kegging, which is somewhat helpful.

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