Once you have fully achieved Homebrewer’s compulsive disorder. You will find that you are stockpiling ridiculous amounts of bottled beer. It’s time you started kegging. There are several benefits to kegging over bottling:
- You fill up one big bottle, not fifty.
- You CLEAN one big bottle, not fifty.
- No maintaining a stockpile of empties.
- Carbonation is accomplished in days instead of 1 to 2 weeks.
- CONSISTENT carbonation throughout the batch. No more differences between bottles.
- Sediment and yeast per glass of beer is less because most of it stays in the bottom of the keg.
- You drink more beer.
Kegging requires some initial investment but this equipment can last you a lifetime. You will need:
- At least one keg, called a ‘cornelius keg’ or ‘corny’ (seen above). These hold 5.5 gallons which is perfect for a typical batch.
- Cornelius keg gas and liquid connectors. For connecting gas and serving tubing.
- Tubing and a tap. You know, so the beer has something to flow through.
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) tank. This pressurizes the keg for serving and force-carbonating
- Gas Regulator. This tells you how much gas you have in the CO2 tank and how much pressure you are applying to the keg.
- A spare refrigerator. If you don’t have one you’ll need to find one. See my article on Kegerators if you want to invest in some awesomeness.
All these things may be sourced separately, or you can get just get them here from KeggleBrewing.com. I recommend purchasing a reconditioned keg so that you know its gaskets have already been replaced and tested. Sometimes used corny’s have vile and putrid leftover in them from years passed.
When you are ready to move your freshly fermented homebrew to the keg you will of course have to sanitize first. Fill the keg with water mixed with the recommended about of santizer for 5.5 gallons. Many people swear by Star-San but I’ve never used it and have relied on a bleach solution or a no-rinse santizer like 1-Step or Easy-Clean. Let the keg sit for the recommended of time. Also soak the lid in a santizing solution. After this time I like to put the lid on the keg and shake it, this might be OCD though. Drain out the keg (rinse it out like crazy if you used bleach) and rack your beer into the keg.
HINT: I like to fill up the keg with CO2 before racking the beer into it. The CO2 pushes all the oxygen out thereby preventing oxidation of your beer during transfer.
Secure the lid to your keg and just stick it in the fridge for several hours. It needs must be cold for the next step in which we force carbonate this bitch. I should note there are several more gentle ways of carbonating your beer but they require extra equipment or take too long. We need to drink as soon as possible so the voices in our heads quiet down.
Once you are sure your kegged beer is as cold as it’s going to get, take it out of the fridge and connect the CO2 tank to it. Set the pressure on the regulator to 20-25 psi. You will hear a slight hissing sound as the CO2 pressurizes the keg. Sit on a comfy chair in such a way that you can place the keg across your lap so that you may spank it with carbon dioxide. Rock the keg gently for 10 minutes or so. Sing a song to yourself or something while you do this. While you are rocking the keg you will hear more hissing as the beer accepts more CO2.
HINT: Make sure the gas inlet of the keg is kept up so that beer doesn’t drain into your gas line.
After 10 minutes of rocking and singing, stick the keg and CO2 tank back into the fridge. I usually set the pressure to around 10-12 psi and leave it all alone for 4 days. After this point it’s carbonated enough for my hillbilly tastes.
For the obsessives:
- Yes there are particular carbonation pressures for different styles and temperatures. You can see a chart here.
- You can also just skip the rocking and singing and just leave the pressurized keg in the fridge for 10 days or so and it will carbonate just as well.
HINT: Your stupid refrigerator has to go. See my article on Kegerators so you can realize your true destiny.
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