Okay all you keggers.
I know the benefits of going to kegs. What is involved to get a basic (VERY basic) setup started.
i.e., what do you need and how much does the whole setup cost? This would be for a setup I can keep tapped and not have to drink in a week.
So, initial equipment costs and long term maintanance costs as well.
Not ready yet, but pondering.
We need a Kegging FAQ.
More consistent results: many brewers experience subtle variations in their bottled beer through a single batch. This is because the beer is in multiple vessels, each subject to various factors that are variable depending when it was bottled, where it was stored and how it was handled. A keg puts an entire 5 gallon batch in a single container (the larger mass also makes it more tolerant of temp changes)
Some folks find kegs easier to store. A kegged beer takes up less space than the equivalent volume of bottled.
Use as a secondary/clairify vessel. A keg is impervious to light thus making it an excellent vessel for 2ndary/clairification stages of brewing.
Kegging does not preclude bottling. You can bottle from the keg.
Ease of transfer. The process of sanitation and transfer of beer to the vessel is far easier and less time consuming with kegs.
Bulk transport: taking 5 gallons of beer to a party is far easier with a keg.
Force Carbonation: carbing 5 gallons of beer to precisely the same level of carbonation is easier to do in a keg than making sure that the priming sugar is exactly measured and evenly distributed. Additionally, you can correct a carbonation mistake in a keg, whereas that is not practical in bottled beer.
What do you need?
A corney keg
A co2 container
Some sort of faucet
Connectors and hoses
A way to get the beer cold (or at least cool)
Wildly depends on where you are and what your specific applicaiton will be.
Here is the basic setup. You can search around for better prices, but it shows what you need.
Also look locally for tanks - you can usually get on an exchange so you don't have to worry about getting your tank tested every 5 years
No exchanges in my area but believe it or not, the hydro was $12 and fills are $20 (20lb tank).
Cost depends on how nice of a set you want or need. A simple CO2 setup hooked up to a picnic faucet is dirt cheap. You start adding $$ on when you get towers, shanks, faucets, handles, fancy regulators, etc etc. It adds up quickly... 150 for kegs, 50 for a c02 tank, 50 for a regulator, 100 for a cheap tower, 50 for taps and lines, 0-300+ for a fridge... then you'll need to rebuild the kegs, lube them, fill them with beer, and fill the c02 bottle. It can add up quick...but in the end it really kicks ass :)
I was bout to say that you don't need 6 kegs at once, but well, you'll end up there anyways so why not include it in the estimate. I started with a craiglist $20 freezer but I'm already annoyed with having to modify shelving and such that I'm ready to go to lowes and get a chest freezer for 5 cornies.
Interestingly enough, I just asked a guy on CL selling a "5 cuft chest freezer" if he'd measure the dimensions for me and he replied "it's 5cuft". Thanks genious. This is going to require showing up to Lowes with at least 2 cornies.
I got everything necessary used, for $170 -- 3 cornies (2 ball and one pin lock), lines, tank, dual gauge reg, several taps and line and clamps to do a through-the-door-fridge kegerator, a cobra tap, several sets of ball locks and pin locks couplers for gas in and liquid out, and even some buckets, cleaning brushes, carboy, and DME.
Of course, I ended up spending a bunch more later to build a Sanyo 4912 kegerator with dual shirron taps, ACU stainless tower, micromatic shanks, etc. -- but the point is that for $170 I was really ready to go except for refrigeration.
The only thing I used to hate when I brewed 14+ years ago, was the backache I had after every bottle washing session -- now I'm too old for that s%$t so I am going the keg route and not regretting it.
Too me, if you already brew, you can get into kegging for about $400 total, including a couple of used/reconditioned-yourself corny kegs, CO2 tank and reg, lines and fittings, a cobra tap, and a nice Sanyo 4912 on sale (for future total-conversion). Then upgrade over time if you want more kegs, nice draft tower, etc.
Go for it!
Head hurts, room spinning... :cross:
Okay, sorry I asked.
Like I said, I know the advantages. :mug:
Just no idea where to begin. Now I am more confused.
and feeling broke just thinking about it!!!
Definately not ready yet!
Thanks for the information though.
I think $400 is a pretty average estimate. Figure you can source used stuff like kegs, fridges, co2 bottle, but the rest of it you really are going to want new - taps, lines, shanks, faucets, regulator. Some things like the number of kegs you will need... yeah you can get by with two kegs, but you know that you're going to have 6 eventually so why not save yourself the hassle. Also, stainless steel prices are on the rise, so future keg prices will likely go up.
It may seem like a lot of up front money, but when you take into account the time and effort it saves you - in the end its worth it I think. Having $400 in a kegerator saves you from having 10 cases of bottles laying around your place. Once you get past like 6 cases (3 batches) - it becomes a real eye sore. ... not to mention people that visit your place will think you are a RAGING alcoholic with all those bottles laying around! :p
To reiterate: BUY NEW LINES. New lines are relatively inexpensive and there's really no excuse for skimping on these and then spending days trying to blaance a system when you have no idea how old the lines are, what they've had in them or how they've been treated.
And new seals-- $4 for a new set of seals on a keg is a small price to pay.
And have spares. Nothing sucks worse than kegging it up only to find that you've got a bad seal somewhere and you've got no replacements. I have at least one complete set of seals for everything (corney keg, faucet, sankey tapper, regulator) on hand for the day that I'll need them. The prices of those seals will only go up over time. (Another use for my Food Saver-- all those seals are stored in a vacuum sealed bags.
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