moving to kegging

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Empire Road Brewing, Oct 17, 2018.

  1. Empire Road Brewing

    Empire Road Brewing New Member

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    Hi
    Ive been brewing with grains and partials for a couple of years now.

    I have resisted putting in the significant investment into gear, as it's been more about learning the skills for me first, which isn't always quick (same mistakes may be repeated). The thing that has pushed me to invest has been faults in my brews. Fermenting in summer, and experiencing fruity esters in my IPA resulted in turning the kitchen fridge into a fermenting fridge. I would say I am still very much a keen enthusiast, although I have started to take suggestions off the interwebs with a sprinkle of yeast. Like stirring the trub before bottling (that's not a great tip).

    Anyway, my latest frustration, and opportunity to develop skills, has been inconsistent carbonation in bottles, either too much or too little carbonation, which can ruin a perfectly tasty brew. So I have been investigating a couple of corny kegs and various hoses and taps to help get consistency in another area of home brewing. Any tips appreciated.
     
  2. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure there is a hose length per PSI chart out there on the web I've had to many HBs to remember but I've seen it posted here before in related trouble shooting with keggerator set ups.

    Yes there is alot of brewing information out there to sift through lol:) but I know the feedback you'll get here on this forum is spot on give or take my post.... :D

    Making packaging easier will keep you in the hobby I recon it's a great investment you dont need to plan for it so much I find I can easily clean and rack a keg in half hour if need.
     
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  3. GrimBeaver

    GrimBeaver New Member

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    In my experience most people do not pay much attention to hose length on the gas side which is the side important for controlling carbonation level. Hose length mostly comes in on the dispensing side to make sure the pressure drops enough to avoid knocking the CO2 out of suspension and generating a lot of head. All you need to do is use the Keg Carbonation Calculator and set your pressure based on temp and desired volume and let it sit long enough.

    I have only burst carbonated once and was not happy with how green the beer was so I usually avoid it. Most of the time I rack to the keg and throw it in the keezer under pressure and let it sit for a week before drinking. I do not use any clarifying agents in my beer nor do I cold crash so letting it sit clarifies it a little. I just have to throw out the first little bit I pour.

    If you are trying to hit the perfect carbonation level for each beer I would also invest in some secondary regulators so you can control each keg individually (assuming you run more then one keg).
     
  4. KC

    KC Active Member

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    You'd think kegging will give you consistency with carbonation, but it's way harder than bottling at a known temperature with measurable amounts of priming sugar.

    Not to talk you out of kegging, but foam and carbonation are the most common problems people have. There is a learning curve and it takes some practice.

    My best tip is to separate carbonation form serving pressure. Once you have the desired CO2 volume for the style (there are several ways to achieve), set the regulator to a value for pushing. Full kegs often need 15-20 psi until sufficient headspace exists to drop to 5-7 psi.
     
  5. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Burst carbing and then letting it sit for a bit will yield good results, too. "Green" flavor might be exacerbated by carbonic acid bite but if the beer tastes good going into the keg, the first pour when it's fully carbed by the burst method is quite fine, in my experience. Invariably I find that most beers settle in whether they're fully carbed or are taking on carbonation slowly. That being said, the quality of the pour definitely improves after the CO2 has had a chance to settle into suspension so that no matter how similar the first burst-carbed pours are to the ones after a week or two in flavor, the finer bubbles make for better head, lacing, etc.
    I've found bottling out of the keg to be quite consistent and satisfactory but it does take sticking to a routine. I usually over-carb just slightly beforehand, make sure the beer is very cold, chill the bottles to freezing or below and fill at very low pressure with a growler tube or beer gun that delivers the beer to the bottom of the bottle and fills slowly so as to avoid foaming and losing suspended gas. As long as it's capped quickly, it holds carb beautifully.
     
  6. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    I have 8 gas lines coming off 1 regulator, it could be better but I can carbonate 4 beers while serving 4 with my current setup. I have another regulator running a single line for bottling and burst carbing.

    I'd honestly never heard of gas line length being a concern though, I mean I suppose you can lose pressure over distance but the liquid line has always been the main concern.
     
  7. N0mad

    N0mad Well-Known Member

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    I highly recommend you get at least one as kegs have more that one use (don't forget the CO2 bottle)... since I started bottling this way all my bottled conditioned beers come out fantastic... sanitize keg, purge keg, fill keg with beer and sugar water, purge head space add 2 lb pressure then fill bottles... It allows me to donate 80% of my beer to Air Force service members where I work with one stipulation... they MUST return my bottles...
    keg-bottle.jpg
     
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  8. OAE Iceman

    OAE Iceman Member

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    I've been kegging for years because I don't like cleaning and sanitising bottles. When fermentation is complete I fill my cleaned and sanitized keg with fresh beer. I put it in my kezzer and for most of my beers I set the pressure around 10 to 12 psi, purge the keg of any air by pulling the safety valve and let the keg set in the keezer for 3 weeks before I tap it. My beer lines are around 6 foot long from the keg to the tap. I never have any issues with beer over foaming. I may adjust the pressure a pound to two depending on how the beer is pouring.
     
  9. JS

    JS New Member

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    For bottle conditioning I use the conditioning tabs (size of a cough drop) and have great results. For kegging I use the Blichmanm Quickcarb. I keg, pressurize the keg, chill for a day, and then quickcarb for 45 min at 10-14 psi. The beer is perfect.

    The trick for bottle conditioning depends upon the temp and duration. I bottle condition in the same temp controlled space that I ferment for 10 days. Then the bottles go into the fridge. I've forgotten a handful of bottles and left for a couple of months, the bottles foam over.
     
  10. Empire Road Brewing

    Empire Road Brewing New Member

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    My update is the keg and equipment has arrived. Well, the courier delivered it to #21, not my house #26 so fortunately my neighbor dropped it around that evening - beers will be passed on with thanks.

    I followed a passivate, sanitize, purge and fill the keg, which was surprisingly orderly and far less messy than filling bottles.

    I added a 2 way distributor to the gas line, which helped when I used a secondary gas line to the fermenter to keep air out while filling. I think I probably need a couple of liquid out connectors so I can have convenience with taps, or bottle filling. But that's the start of my slippery slope into more kegging gear.

    I had my first leak, I had screwed the gas barb connector on only finger tight. Discovered the error the next morning when half my tank had gone. I highly recommend using a spray bottle with San Star to check for leaks BEFORE you close the fridge door and walk away.

    Anyway, I am slow carbing my APA at 9 PSI at 35F and will leave it a week before I pour.

    Incidentally, I entered a beer into a competition last week with an APA, scoring 26/50 with BJCP format, the notes highlighted low head retention/carbonation and some oxidization, which is timely for the change to my kegging, where I want to have better control of these elements to medal next year.

    Thanks for your feedback
     
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