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  1. #1
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    How to keep a keg at home

    Okay beer people. What kind of mechanism or device do I need to keep a keg at home?? Thanks!

    Ken

  2. #2
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    Re: How to keep a keg at home

    Okay beer people. What kind of mechanism or device do I need to keep a keg at home??
    I'm assuming that you mean a commercial keg of beer, not homebrewed beer. (Most homebrewers keg in five gallon ex-soda pre-mix Cornelius kegs, usually called Cornies).

    You will need an old fridge that you can remove the shelves from, or some other place to keep the beer cool (for ales) or cold (for lagers). If you want to keep British style ales in a fridge at 55F, then you'll need an external thermostat, since the internal one won't go that high. Most beer people don't do that, but I have one on one of my beer fridges (actually an old deep freeze).

    You will need a CO2 tank and regulator. A five pound tank is probably sufficient. Aluminum ones are much lighter than steel ones. You can get them used, but be sure to get one that has been pressure tested recently. The test date will be stamped on the shoulder of the tank. The test is good for five years, and costs maybe $10-15.

    A used tank shouldn't cost more than about $50-70. You can get one from a homebrew store, welding supply, or fire extinguiser company. You can also rent them, or pay a deposit. If you do this, you don't have to worry about the testing date - you just exchange the empty tank for a full one, but this costs more.

    The regulator (~$60) steps the pressure down from something like 600 psi to the 8-12 psi you'll want to dispense your beer and keep it carbonated. There are often two gauges on these - a high pressure one to tell you the tank pressure, and a low pressure to tell you the pressure you are sending to the keg. The high pressure one isn't much help because it will always read ~600 psi (depending on tempterature) as long as there is any liquid CO2. The pressure will start to drop when there is only CO2 gas and the tank is nearly empty.

    You will also need a tap for the keg. Most kegs now are the straight-sided Sankey kegs, so you need a Sankey tap (~$30?). You will also need hose for the CO2 and for the beer, and a faucet for the beer. The faucet can be a standard beer faucet that you mount on the fridge door or side (watch out for cooling lines in the side) or a picnic faucet. That's the black plastic kind with a lever that goes on the end of the hose.

    You don't say where you are in Ohio. Dan Listermann runs Listermann Manufacturing in Cincinnati. He makes homebrew equipment and has a well stocked homebrew shop. He can set you up. Other parts of the state have good homebrew shops. Restaurant supply places may help, too. Mail order homebrew suppliers are good (Listermann does this), but the CO2 tanks are heavy and must be shipped empty. Northern Brewer is a good one.

    Foxx Equipment Co. is a big wholesaler of this equipment. Check them out to see what this stuff looks like.

    Jeff

  3. #3
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    Re: How to keep a keg at home

    Co2 tanks and regulators may be easiest to refill and purchase at welding supply stores. If I remember correctly, the welding supply in Berkeley even stocks beer gas!

    Beer gas, by the way, has a high nitrogen content that will give a creamy mouthfeel and soften the sensation of hop bitterness on the palate. Most of this benefit requires the "Guinness style" needlepoint tap to optimize the nitrogen's effect.

    Roger

  4. #4
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    Re: How to keep a keg at home

    Thanks guys, my only beer experience (until now) is buying the occasional 6 pack. Last week I "brewed" my first beer at the Brew Kettle in Strongsville, Ohio (opposite end of the state from Cinci, Jeff). The brewing was fun. For not knowing anything about brewing beer they made it very simple to understand. Kinda like beer for dummies. Now it's fermenting....

    They usually have you bottle the beer (in three weeks) but will let you take it in a keg instead if you prefer. I thought I could stick a keg out on the porch (it runs about 40 degrees through the winter) but my only experience was the party keg set up. So that's what I thought I'd be doing. I had no idea what would be required.

    I read your replies but I don't really understand yet.... You need the keg, a fitting a CO2 tank a fridge and a tap??? Seems complicated. Maybe I'll just bottle it, at least this time.

    Right decision???

    I like the idea of kegging it but maybe one step at a time.

    Ken

  5. #5
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    Re: How to keep a keg at home

    Ken,
    The usual progression for homebrewers is to bottle their beer until they just CAN'T STAND to sanitize another batch of bottles - then they get a keg setup.

    Since it sounds like you are doing your beer at one of those "U Brew It" places that do most of the organize and sanitizing, I'd keep bottling - unless you get to the point where you just CAN'T STAND to fill another bottle.

    Roger

    By the way - I have a sneaky suspicion that I've seen Jeff Renner's name years ago. I hope it's not outing him, but I think he's actually a really, really knowledgable person in the homebrew world. I wouldn't be surprised if years ago I were to have read Fred Eckhardt or Greg Noonan having written "I wasn't sure, so I called up Jeff Renner..."

  6. #6
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    Re: How to keep a keg at home

    By the way - I have a sneaky suspicion that I've seen Jeff Renner's name years ago. I hope it's not outing him, but I think he's actually a really, really knowledgable person in the homebrew world. I wouldn't be surprised if years ago I were to have read Fred Eckhardt or Greg Noonan having written "I wasn't sure, so I called up Jeff Renner..."
    Well, not really all that knowledgeable. Fred and Greg are miles ahead of me. But I have been a homebrewer for more than 30 years, and have published a handful of articles in Zymurgy and the late, lamented Brewing Techniques. I have been a speaker at several National Homebrewing Conferences and at other converences, and sit on the Governing Committee of the American Homebrewers Association. (Michael Jackson and Fred Eckharct are also on this as emeriti, but MJ has come to only one annual meeting since I've been on it - Fred is active.) I'm also quite active on HomeBrew Digest, the oldest and biggest homebrewing forum, as well as other brewing forums around the world.

    If you do a Google search of my name and the word beer, you'll get a whole lotta hits.

    Jeff

  7. #7
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    Re: How to keep a keg at home

    Thanks Roger, that's exactly the advice I was looking for (but had to arrive at it slowly )

    Maybe if I keep at this I'll get to the point of setting up a keg system (and maybe by then it will seem easy and natural thing to do!).

    Thanks again guys!

    Ken

  8. #8
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    Re: How to keep a keg at home

    Probably the most common setup for homebrewers is to use 3-5 gallon Cornelius kegs, a co2 bottle, and a regulator.
    The middle photo on this page of my buddies at the Oak Barrel in Berkeley show this setup.

    Cornelius kegs were the mainstay of the soda pop industry until the syrup box, and are (I believe) still relatively inexpensive used in the most common 5-gallon size.

    The tap and co2 are plugged into the keg with hoses. The tap can be the hand-held type one sees at keg parties, or can be mounted, as in bars, on a wall, board or tapstand.

    You don't specify whether you plan to buy or make your beer. If you want to buy commercial beer it may be difficult to get the Golden Gate, Sankey (sp?), or the other type of fitting whose name I can't remember. Also, these commercial fittings are pretty clunky and heavy duty for home use compared to Cornelius fittings.

    The one thing to not forget is that you drive your keg with co2 or nitrogenized beer gas, not air like party kegs. Oxygen intrusion into a keg will stale beer in a couple of days, where a cornelius/co2 setup should keep the beer fresh as long as the style of beers allows. I once had a barleywine that improved for 3 years in the keg before the flavor started to go downhill.

    Roger

 

 

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