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Old 02-12-2013, 05:48 PM   #1
MikeFallopian
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Default Corny keg advice needed

I've just ordered my first corny keg! Very exciting...

However, I'm not planning on force carbing - I'd like to prime my beer in the keg then use CO2 to dispense (mainly because I prefer the mouthfeel of unforced carbonation, and it means I'd use less gas and save some cash). How would I go about this? After racking onto priming solution (90g/3oz sugar), should I then give a burst of gas to seal, unhook the gas, leave somewhere warm-ish to carbonate, then rehook the gas (4psi?) and refridgerate?

Another thing: I usually brew 23 litre batches and a corny holds 19. I'd quite like to keep brewing 23 litres and take off 4 litres' worth of bottles. What would be the best way of priming this? Should I prime the entire batch before kegging and bottling? Or should I just prime the keg then prime the bottles individually?

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Old 02-12-2013, 08:19 PM   #2
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On your second question: I'd use carbonation tabs/drops in the bottles, but either way should work.

On your main question: it all looks good, except 4 psi is probably too low. Set the pressure depending on your desired volumes of CO2 and temperature:

http://www.tastybrew.com/calculators/carbonation.html

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Old 02-13-2013, 05:36 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by zachattack View Post
On your second question: I'd use carbonation tabs/drops in the bottles, but either way should work.

On your main question: it all looks good, except 4 psi is probably too low. Set the pressure depending on your desired volumes of CO2 and temperature:

http://www.tastybrew.com/calculators/carbonation.html
What would be your thoughts on adding sugar to the bottles instead of carbonation tabs?

Also, I only intend to use the external CO2 to dispense with carbonation being built up through priming with sugar. How much psi would you recommend to dispense from the keg?

Thanks!
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Old 02-13-2013, 05:48 PM   #4
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I cant remember the exact amount of priming sugar you should use, but i do remember it being less than what is required for bottles. As far as what pressure to dispense your beer at would be based on your equipment set up; lenght and diameter of liquid lines and what type of tap you are using (picnic tap or faucet). I use 10 foot of 3/16 beer line with perilick ss faucets with 10-12 psi depending on the style of beer.

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Old 02-13-2013, 06:05 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by MikeFallopian View Post
How much psi would you recommend to dispense from the keg?
Like I said above, choose a desired volumes of CO2, then set the pressure based on the temperature of your kegerator. The pressure is the same for carbonating or dispensing. It's tough to nail an exact carbonation level when keg priming, so that'll get you close and then the CO2 tank will finish the job and balance everything (if you're a tiny bit overcarbed) out after the first couple pints. Although you're applying the same pressure, you'll use less CO2 from your tank.

If you set it lower it won't maintain the correct level, and you'll end up with flat beer with a side effect of foamy pours until it re-equlibrates.
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Old 02-13-2013, 06:11 PM   #6
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How would you save cash. Co2 is dirt cheap. Sugar costs money, and you can't cold crash and drop yeast before you keg. I pay something like .80/lb for co2. I have force carved 30 something kegs on it and haven't seen much of a dip in the tank gauge. I will also add that co2 is co2 and if you notice a difference in mouthfeel it is from other variables

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I just got a Mr Beer kit and want to brew a Double Imperial Blueberry Heffy Witesit....we have no air conditioning and live next to the sun...do you think I can logger and bottle this in time for a party I will be having next week?
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Old 02-13-2013, 06:29 PM   #7
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How would you save cash. Co2 is dirt cheap. Sugar costs money, and you can't cold crash and drop yeast before you keg. I pay something like .80/lb for co2. I have force carved 30 something kegs on it and haven't seen much of a dip in the tank gauge
The cold crash can still happen in the keg, and you'll just pour it out with the first couple pints. Not a big deal if you're patient, though by reading this forum I have noticed that most people are very impatient when it comes to carbonating. Besides the cost, I'll say that plenty of people prefer natural carbonation for other reasons.

But he certainly will save cash, and CO2 is definitely not dirt cheap. You have a good rate, but it's still much more expensive than using priming sugar. Most people pay $10-20 to fill a 5 pound tank. Although highly anecdotal, the general rule is 1-2 corny kegs per pound of CO2, twice that if you're naturally carbing.

There are a lot of assumptions here, but I'm being pretty generous with them:

Let's say you're paying $4 for 5 lbs of CO2, and let's say that's enough to push out 10 corny kegs if you're force carbonating, 20 if you're naturally carbonating. So you're paying 40 cents per keg if you force carb, 20 cents per keg if you naturally carb. So let's assume that force carbing a keg costs you 20 cents.

10 pounds of sugar is $5.58 (from Walmart). That's 160 ounces, so if you're using 2 ounces of white sugar to prime each keg that's costing you 7 cents to carbonate each. That's a savings of 13 cents per keg just in the cost of CO2, not to mention fewer trips to fill the tank (gas, etc.).

In a more realistic world, CO2 will cost $15 for a 5 pound tank, and we can assume that'll serve 5 kegs force carbing, 10 kegs naturally carbing. So now you're talking about $3 a keg vs. $1.5 a keg, and naturally carbing will save you $1.43. If you brew twice a month, that's $34 savings a year in CO2 alone. It's definitely not a ton of cash, but it is something.

Obviously bigger tanks are cheaper per pound to fill, and require fewer fills. But most people seem to have 5lb tanks. It sounds like you have a 20 or 50 pound tank.

Finally, the pressure in your tank has no relation to how much CO2 is left. You need to remove the regulator, weigh the tank and subtract the tare weight.
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Old 02-13-2013, 10:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zachattack View Post
The cold crash can still happen in the keg, and you'll just pour it out with the first couple pints.

Most people pay $10-20 to fill a 5 pound tank.


In a more realistic world, CO2 will cost $15 for a 5 pound tank, and we can assume that'll serve 5 kegs force carbing, 10 kegs naturally carbing.

Obviously bigger tanks are cheaper per pound to fill, and require fewer fills. But most people seem to have 5lb tanks. It sounds like you have a 20 or 50 pound tank.

Finally, the pressure in your tank has no relation to how much CO2 is left. You need to remove the regulator, weigh the tank and subtract the tare weight.
You have a point. I like to keep as much yeast out of my keg as possible so I dont have to worry about filtering, or disturbing the cake at the bottom during a transport etx. also I have not weighed my tank, so my gauge pressure is irrelivent. I will say my 20lb tank is $18 ($0.90/lb) to fill but with your math to say you can only force carb and serve 5 kegs with a 5 lb tank would mean that I could only get 20 kegs off my tank, which for my system it has been about 36 kegs minimum so far with no drop in tank pressure yet. so for $18/36kegs is .50 cents a keg. and that is not counting any purging I am doing before filling. Maybe I am missing something but IF people really do taste a difference from force carb vs priming sugar, then that is the only real reason to do so. From my experience if it tastes better to use sugar, go for it, but it probably tastes better because your force carb example you had to base this off of was still green.

also I will add that with force carbing you can carb until correct with taste as a decision, rather than tweaking your sugar additions to hit it. I am a set it and forget it kind of guy.. ok, backing down now. just throwing out some things to consider
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I just got a Mr Beer kit and want to brew a Double Imperial Blueberry Heffy Witesit....we have no air conditioning and live next to the sun...do you think I can logger and bottle this in time for a party I will be having next week?
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Old 02-14-2013, 12:18 AM   #9
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You have a point. I like to keep as much yeast out of my keg as possible so I dont have to worry about filtering, or disturbing the cake at the bottom during a transport etx.
The difference in the amount of yeast is truly minimal.

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I will say my 20lb tank is $18 ($0.90/lb) to fill but with your math to say you can only force carb and serve 5 kegs with a 5 lb tank would mean that I could only get 20 kegs off my tank, which for my system it has been about 36 kegs minimum so far ...
You read that wrong, it's between 1&2 kegs per pound of CO2 (with most people getting closer to 2), so 20-40 kegs for your tank depending on carb level and how much you use to purge your kegs. I doubt you get more than 4 more kegs out of it before you need a refill, unless you're serving all of your beer at very low carb levels.

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Originally Posted by KaSaBiS View Post
Maybe I am missing something but IF people really do taste a difference from force carb vs priming sugar, then that is the only real reason to do so. From my experience if it tastes better to use sugar, go for it, but it probably tastes better because your force carb example you had to base this off of was still green.
The other reason is a relative lack of space in your kegerator/keezer. Mine only holds 4 kegs, and naturally carbing allows me to put an already carbed keg on tap, rather than having one tap dry while I wait for it to carb up. And it's not a flavor thing, it's a mouthfeel thing. Several pro-brewers go through extra steps that cost time and money to naturally carb their beers because they feel it results in finer bubbles and a creamier mouthfeel.

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also I will add that with force carbing you can carb until correct with taste as a decision, rather than tweaking your sugar additions to hit it. I am a set it and forget it kind of guy.. ok, backing down now. just throwing out some things to consider
When priming naturally, any small differences between the actual carbonation and desired carbonation correct themselves after a little time at the correct serving pressure.

I'm not trying to convince anyone that one way is better than the other, just pointing out that the reasons you gave for force carbonating being superior aren't based in fact. I actually force carb most of my beers.
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Old 02-14-2013, 01:02 AM   #10
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Several pro-brewers go through extra steps that cost time and money to naturally carb their beers because they feel it results in finer bubbles and a creamier mouthfeel
Sounds like I will be doing some experimenting! Ill have to split my next batch and see if I can notice a difference.

So if the OP can gain anything out of my unproductive responses it is this. although there are many ways to skin a cat, until you try the different methods yourself, you really never know.
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I just got a Mr Beer kit and want to brew a Double Imperial Blueberry Heffy Witesit....we have no air conditioning and live next to the sun...do you think I can logger and bottle this in time for a party I will be having next week?
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