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> Kegging and Carbonating your Beer, Submitted by Jim Yeager
Jimvy
post Sep 15 2005, 11:05 AM
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On one hand, kegging sounds like a wonderous thing....no more cleaning bottles, no more waiting 3 weeks for carbonation, beer on tap! On the other hand, once you get your equipment, it can seem like a major pain in the butt to hook up everything right, carbonate to the right pressure, and avoid damaging your beer. So to help those getting started, or those struggling with the typical kegging/carbonating issues, here's some instructions on what works for me:

First things First

When you start kegging, the first thing you need to think about and take care of is the rebuilding of the kegs (unless of course, you purchased ones that were already rebuilt for you). You need to take the kegs apart and replace the o-rings, clean it with some cleaner (I use oxyclean) and sanitize before actually putting beer in them.

To take off the keg posts, I use a 7/8 socket (note, some kegs vary in post size):

(IMG:http://webpages.charter.net/jim.yeager/Beer%20Writeups/Kegging%20and%20Carbonating_files/image001.jpg)

Removing the "IN" post looks like this. The o-ring on the tube is one of 5 that needs to be removed and replaced.

(IMG:http://webpages.charter.net/jim.yeager/Beer%20Writeups/Kegging%20and%20Carbonating_files/image003.jpg)

In this shot you can see the large o-ring on the lid that needs to be replaced, as well as one of the two post o-rings.

(IMG:http://webpages.charter.net/jim.yeager/Beer%20Writeups/Kegging%20and%20Carbonating_files/image005.jpg)

The "OUT" tube shows the last o-ring to be replaced. Also, if you can clean the inside of the dip-tube, do so (I have a special brush that I use for hoses that works for the dip-tubes as well).

(IMG:http://webpages.charter.net/jim.yeager/Beer%20Writeups/Kegging%20and%20Carbonating_files/image007.jpg)

HBA also has a great article on cleaning and maintaining kegs that I highly recommend you check out as well. It can be found here.

Purging the O2

Once your kegs are cleaned and sanitized, you can fill them with beer. However, you do not want to seal them up with a bunch of oxygen in them, so you need to purge it out.

Hook up your CO2 to the keg, using the "IN" post (I usually have mine set to 12-15 psi for this):

(IMG:http://webpages.charter.net/jim.yeager/Beer%20Writeups/Kegging%20and%20Carbonating_files/image009.jpg)

Once the CO2 stops filling (you'll be able to hear it), pull the release. Let it fill up again and release. Repeat 3-4 times and you should have only CO2 in the keg.

(IMG:http://webpages.charter.net/jim.yeager/Beer%20Writeups/Kegging%20and%20Carbonating_files/image011.jpg)

You can leave you beer like this for a long time without concerns.

Proper CO2 Levels in Beer

Thanks to HBA, here is a nice chart for determining what pressure you should carbonate your beer to: CO2 Chart

Methods of Carbonating

There are a couple of different ways you can force carbonate your beer....it all depends on when you want it ready and what equipment you have available to you. The thing you need to remember is, you should really carbonate your beer when it is cold. It'll allow much better absorption and take less time (the 5 minute method show below assumes your kegged beer is 40F).

Patient Method - Simply hook up the CO2 to your "OUT" post and turn the pressure to whatever you want to carbonate at (usually 10-12 psi for 40F). Within 3-5 days the beer will be carbonated to the proper level (based on my own experience, this can take a week or longer, depending).

Note: You can also do this using the "IN" post, which will avoid the possibility of getting beer in your gas line, but it'll probably double the amount of time needed for it to carbonate. I've done it this way and I'd figure at least 10 days.

5 Minute Carbonation - If you're in a hurry, you can carbonate your beer within 5 minutes (however, I'd suggest leaving it overnight at a minimum after doing so). The easiest way I've found to do this is to obtain a bleeder valve like the one shown in the first picture below. The bleeder valve will let you know what the pressure in the keg is....very helpful as you'll see in a minute.

This keg has beer in it and has been purged of O2, but the pressure inside the keg reads 0psi.

(IMG:http://webpages.charter.net/jim.yeager/Beer%20Writeups/Kegging%20and%20Carbonating_files/image013.jpg)

Turn on the CO2 tank to 25-30psi and attach the gas to the "OUT" post (you can use the in post, but it will take longer).

(IMG:http://webpages.charter.net/jim.yeager/Beer%20Writeups/Kegging%20and%20Carbonating_files/image015.jpg)

Disconnect the CO2. The pressure in the keg is now 25-30psi. To get the CO2 absorbed into the beer, you need to agitate it somehow. I put my kegs on their corner and shake back and forth for 30-40 seconds.

(IMG:http://webpages.charter.net/jim.yeager/Beer%20Writeups/Kegging%20and%20Carbonating_files/image017.jpg)

(IMG:http://webpages.charter.net/jim.yeager/Beer%20Writeups/Kegging%20and%20Carbonating_files/image019.jpg)
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