Kegs...where to start?

Buying, building and using brewing equipment and apparatus. Product reviews and questions.

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Kegs...where to start?

Postby fcsmike » Sat Dec 20, 2003 11:28 pm

I have been thinking hard about switching to kegs. It seems to me that, once you are set up life is so much easier. Problem is, getting started.

I have been shopping around and I see all kinds of equipment options; price, keg condition, full kit, build your own, type of kit/keg, ect.

If I buy a non-reconditioned keg what will I need to make it servicable. Do I realy need all the CO2 stuff. What other equipment do I need?

Could someone boil it down for me please.

Thanks
fcsmike
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Just went through the process

Postby jayhawk » Sun Dec 21, 2003 1:43 am

I thought long and hard about this decision too. I have just switched to kegs within the past month and I am really loving it. They are really versatile things and you will find that they really provide a lot of new options for the homebrewery. ie increased capacity; fewer or no bottles = less hassle and more time; easy to lager etc...

So what you need are the following:
kegs - use cornelius soda kegs
CO2 - essential for pushing the beer out of the keg and into your glass and maintaining or forcing carbonation
regulator- controls release of Co2 from the tank
Hoses, taps, etc...
Fridge - or some place where you can keep kegs cool (ie less than 10C, essential for force carbonating

Used kegs are the way to go. I think the retail price of $35-40 for a keg is a little pricey, so I found a restaurant that used soda kegs for there soda fountain and paid them the deposit for the kegs ($10 CDN) and took the kegs home. This way you will have 3 to 4 kegs for the price of one used one from a retailer. It is recommended that you change the O rings in the keg, but i have skipped this step without problems so far. If you get Club Soda or Tonic Water kegs then you really don't have to worry about the O rings. Change them if they are worn or cracked, or if they really stink. Mine were in great condition and didn't really have any odour so I kept them. Do not use old rootbeer kegs...apparently you will never get the flavour out of them. Coke and Pepsi use different valve couplings, otherwise I think they are identical. I picked up the Coke style.

There is a CO2 provider in my area that has a deposit system for CO2 tanks. You pay $100 deposit on the tank, plus $25 to fill it (20lbs of C02), and then when it is done I simply go to one of their outlets, hand in the empty tank, pay $25 and go home with a fresh tank of C02. They take care of all tank maintaince, repairs, testing etc because they still legally own the tanks. Simple and no hassle.

Regulators are widely available. I bought a new one for $80, but have now seen them on eBay for much much less. Problem with eBay is that the buyer can't be sure the regulator works and it seems like a pain to try and return the thing if it is shot. This might be an area where new is preferred.

You will need a way to chill the beer. I have a cellar that is a constant 7C, so I just store the beer there and it works well. Some guys use a fridge etc...there are tons of ideas on the net and here on the forum. Force carbonating recquires the beer be chilled (closer to 0C the better. However, you do not need to force carbonate your beer because priming a keg for natural carbonation is totally acceptable. This way you could skip the fridge and just use a jockey box system to get the beer to serving temp. It is really up to you and your preference/budget. I have force carbed so far and like the increased turn around time for a batch. Instant gratification!

Hoses and fittings and taps are easy to get from HBS or online. Using thick walled resitance hose apparently cuts down on foaming and I use this stuff. It was highly recommended to me by my HBS and is not much more expensive than regular tubing.

I hope that helps. Fire away with anymore ?s.

Chris
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start with clean kegs

Postby bredmakr » Mon Dec 22, 2003 9:16 am

I highly recommend kegs from SABCO Industries.
www.kegs.com. Used cornies are about $45 with all o-rings and poppits replaced and acid washed. They come ready to go to work for you in your brewery.
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my 2

Postby gene » Mon Dec 22, 2003 7:29 pm

new kegs are $100., reconditioned from a reputable supplier are $55. or less., used from good ebay guys or other are 10 to 12+shipping(ummmh $25.) new o-rings for the lid are about $3. for better grade. O-rings for the in/out fittings are less than $3.+ shipping($5.ish) from mcmaster-carr. regulators run less than $50.get a new one. I understand from forums that you cannot change the fittings on a pepsi tank to the seven up tank or vice versa. also the pepsi type have many different fittings i.e. cornelious, firestone etc.I believe most guys go with pepsi type of some kind or other. clean the fittings, have spares, keg lube and clean like hell especially the tubes. know which is in and out they are not the same and black goes out and grey goes in. sanitize carefully and remember stainless does not like chlorine or Iodophor for a long(hour or two) period. rinse well. use the same amount of priming sugar as you would for 5 gallons of bottles(although I have heard only 1/2 cup. to me 5 gallons is 5 gallons but ???? your fridge if used with a controller will not operate correctly to freeze stuff in the freezer. I do not keg yet but have read and read and read. I have everything except the refridgerator. it will come after xmas. you need to look at sites that tell you how to balance your system. I have one new co2 cylinder and am getting a second used for backup. Maybe I should have gotten used instead. Sabco is good. talk to welding supply shops. you can get set up for less than $100. ?????your results may vary. gene
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