Kegging system

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by EvanAltman36, Jun 11, 2013.

  1. EvanAltman36

    EvanAltman36 New Member

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    I'm doubtful that SWMBO will allow it right now, but I'm doing some research on kegging systems and wanted some opinions.

    2-keg ball lock system with shanks and chrome faucets included - $355
    3-keg ball lock system with 3-way gas manifold and handheld taps - $364
    2-keg pin lock system with handheld taps - $229

    I would like the convenience of having the taps on the outside of the fridge, so the first option is a plus. But the 3rd option is just so much less expensive (I'm assuming due to the pin lock kegs) that I could get 2 shanks and taps and an extra keg and still be under the cost of either of the first two options. My research doesn't seem to indicate any real shortcoming to the pin lock kegs, but that's where I want to lean on my fellow brewers.
     
  2. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    All I have ever used is the ball lock style. I think that is more popular, might be easier to get replacement parts?

    Keep in mind the hidden cost of cleaning all the lines if you go with an external tap system. A serving line with beer sitting in it starts to get gunky after a few weeks. Even if you clear it, a fresh pour will taste goaty.

    I use one picnic tap and rotate it between all 5 of my kegs. I have a towel to catch any drips.

    I would invest in backflow valves. That way you don't have to worry about beer going back up the gas line and hurting the regulator.

    Also get some damp rid or moisture absorption product if you are going to convert a freezer to a keezer with a temperature controller.
     
  3. chessking

    chessking New Member

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    I also have ball locks and picnic taps, but pin locks work fine. I would suggest you pick one or the other to keep the setup simple. I believe pin locks are slightly shorter and thicker, so that would effect your kegerator dimensions. Here is a good write up on them. I have met and talked to Tom, the guy who wrote it. He seems to know his stuff.
    http://www.tomsbrewshop.com/Keg-Story.html

    As far as the taps go, you can always splurge later on some shinny external taps. Start out simple, and spread your costs out a bit. You will soon find that two kegs wont be enough, and as your keg herd grows, that picnic tap will come in handy.
     
  4. The Brew Mentor

    The Brew Mentor Well-Known Member

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    Evan
    There are a few things that you really need to consider.

    The best piece of advice I can give you is to go with all stainless steel. It makes a huge difference and buying a kegging system should be a 1 time purchase.

    Next, make sure you buy front seal faucets. The rear seal faucets leave beer in the faucet past the seal point and make the lever sticky, not to mention leaving spent beer available to any insects, spiders, airborne dust and mold.

    Buy faucet caps to cover the end of the faucet when not in use.

    Pin lock keg are fine and more available. Ball lock were more popular from the get go but are in limited supply and are more pricey.

    Make sure you put everything together with swivel nuts. This will help when changing out fittings and when you take things apart to clean.

    Clean every 2-3 weeks.

    More to come..

    Brian
     
  5. EvanAltman36

    EvanAltman36 New Member

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    Great, thanks for all the input, I really appreciate it. Seems like the pin lock systems are harder to find but the kits and kegs are less expensive, which seemed strange to me. Cleaning every few weeks sure seems a lot better than having to wash dozens of bottles every time too, not to mention the filling process. Both of the systems I'm looking at appear to have back flow valves included; one has a separate gas manifold with one line in and two out, but appears to have only one regulator to show the pressure on the keg(s). The second option has a dual double regulator that appears to be more heavy-duty; for $30 more, this appears to be a more foolproof and sturdy investment. $314 for 2 kegs, tank, and all the hoses and such.

    Follow-up question: since I'm able to force-carbonate with a kegging system, does that mean I can/should incorporate further filtration methods from fermenter to keg? I obviously need yeast in the bottles in order to eat the priming sugar for carbonation, but I'm thinking I would not need it for a keg. Although I have read that you can still prime a keg rather than force-carbing. Thoughts?
     
  6. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    Force carbing is the way to go in my opinion. And yes, you can filter with no worry about residual yeast.
     
  7. MadScienter

    MadScienter New Member

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    I converted a freezer and keep a ball-lock keg in there with a long hose to a picnic tap. I have a tower which I've never hooked up because I'd need to force air into with a fan, and then maintain it all. Maybe if I suddenly get a bunch of extra time on my hands I'll do it, but for now, my system works flawlessly!

    As for ball lock or pin lock, my understanding is that it doesn't matter. They're just different, so it would make sense to pick one or the other and stick with it, but whatever. Parts seem readily available for each.

    Force carbonating is awesome. You CAN prime a keg (just put sugar in it and leave it at fermenting temp for 10 days), but then you have to wait 10 days!! I drink a brew the night I keg. Every time. It doesn't get to the proper "fine-tuned" carbonation levels for a few days for me, but it's close, and it's now! It also doesn't leave a lot of sediment in my keg. Don't forget to cold-crash before you keg.
     
  8. The Brew Mentor

    The Brew Mentor Well-Known Member

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    Evan

    I warned you I'd have more...

    Make sure you get a quality regulator with both high and low pressure gauges. I started selling systems with cheaper, economy regulators and had many problems with them.

    Another thing you may want to consider is adding a Tee to the gas line and splitting off another gas setup. This way you can have a keg hooked up in the fridge and still gas a second without disrupting your setup.

    There should be no problem with a mix of Ball and Pin Kegs if you set up the system with swivel nuts like I said earlier. The disconnects just unscrew and re-screw back on. I have 12 kegs in rotation of both ball and pin and it truly takes about 15 seconds to change out the fittings.

    Getting at least 2 kegs is a good idea because you can do keg to keg transfers. If you do this after some time in the keg, you can take a keg with you to an event without disturbing the sediment that has fallen out. You can serve your homebrew nice and clean without haze or "Sharting" issues.

    Feel free to give me a call at the store if you want any further advice. We can build the system that you want with quality products and specific to your wants and needs. We don't just sell a package.

    Good luck with whatever you do.

    Brian
     
  9. EvanAltman36

    EvanAltman36 New Member

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    Thanks for all the input, everyone. Sounds like there's no perfect setup, but that there are lots of different options that are all viable. Part of the fun is figuring out what works best, though when it comes to kegging, I want to make sure I've got a good handle on it so that I don't end up wasting any beer or anything.
     
  10. EvanAltman36

    EvanAltman36 New Member

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    Could you please share your method? I've seen a couple different things out there, but it sounds like the processes are pretty similar: purge the 02, then crank the pressure up to 30-40psi while rolling the tank until you hear the sloshing sound stop. Then leave in fridge for 24 hours and turn down to 20psi for another 24 hours. Then lower pressure to about 10psi and release the additional pressure in the keg through pressure release valve. That's about a 3-day process, but can you pour during that first period? I'm assuming the higher pressure is required for the "burst" carb in order to saturate the liquid immediately.
     
  11. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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    If in a hurry and want to force carbonate I cold crash at least overnight, transfer to keg, purge O2, hook up to 20psi, set keg on mat just outside frig and rock vigorously 200 times in intervals of 50(RHAHB during interval)then place in frig overnight. The next day relieve pressure turning pressure down to 10psi and partake. No its not completely finished carbing but very drinkable. Have tried several methods but patience is always the winner.
    (2 weeks)
     

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