Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Kegging (part 2)

What's next? Cleaning and loading a keg; duh. This could be as straight forward as cleaning a keg with hot hot water, sanitizing, and racking your beer into the keg. I don't roll like that. If I am going to be kegging I am going to make the full effort to keep oxygen out of my beer.  I am going to do everything I can to achieve that goal.

Keg cleaning
To clean the kegs I opened them and inspected them, as anticipated they'd been cleaned by Midwest. Their first time care instructions suggested rinsing them with boiling water to remove caustic residue from the cleaning agent they use to remove the soda. After that I filled each keg with PBW and 100 degree water and let them have a good soak, turning them over after a few hours to ensure all parts got cleansed. Then after pumping that through the taps I mixed up some Star San in each keg, flipping again after a few hours, and pumping the Star San out through the taps. This gave me a sanitized environment that was pressurized with CO2.

Keg Filling

(DISCLAIMER: Pressurizing a vessel can be extremely dangerous, even life threatening (think exploding glass carboy). Using this method should be done at your own risk, with safty glasses, and all other proper precautions.)

I didn't invent this setup, but I do use it. The idea is that you put an air lock on the gas tap for the keg, preventing air from re entering the keg, then you purge the line with CO2, and use pressure to push the beer from the carboy into the keg. This purges most of the oxygen from the whole system and hopefully preserves the hop flavor better. I couldn't find a prefabricated system so I had to make my own. I purchased 2 soft rubber carboy caps, a racking cane, 4 feet of 3/8 inch ID hosing, several hose clamps, 1 gas ball lock keg coupler, 1 liquid ball lock keg coupler, and an air lock. It assembles like the picture, The CO2 goes in through the small hole in the carboy cap, the racking cane goes in the big one, the liquid goes into the liquid connection, and the gas excapes out through the gas connect. You have to be careful not to suck up crap with the racking cane because that's all going into your keg. I ended up leaving a bit of beer I might have siphoned and figured would settle out in the bottle. This could have been avoided by secondary fermentation; with additional crap settled out it'd go even smoother. To attach 1/4 keg hardware to a 3/8 inch tube I simply slid 1/4 ID 3/8 OD tube inside of my 3/8 ID tube. (I'll amend this with real pictures after the next time I do it. I didn't have a helper so no action photos were taken.) I dialed my regularor so that it was barely on. It takes very low pressure to push the beer out of the carboy. When showing my girlfriend the concept I could do it with my lungs, so it must not be alot of psi. I would not clamp any connections on the rubber carboy cap, or clamp the cap to the carboy. The only connections I clamped were on the keg hardware and to keep the air lock in the hose.

This is my new mini fridge loaded with 1 keg. All modifications will be detailed in an upcoming post about making this fridge into a kegerator including all parts, processes, and unavoidable errors.

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