I just bought my very first kegging kit from Adventures in Homebrewing (Taylor, MI) and just wanted to know if there are any tips or tricks I should know about. I've bottled six batches now, and have dealt with enough poor cap seals and broken bottles to never want to do a full 5 gallon bottling again.
Purchased a used corny keg (holding pressure, clean interior, mostly.), a new 5# CO2 tank, a dual regulator, five feet of beer and gas line, and a nice chrome plated tap. I believe I got a pretty good deal too, without the Co2 tank, it was $108.99 for a ball lock system. I paid $60 for a new 5# Co2 tank, and paid another $8 on new o-rings and threaded fittings.
Here's what I've done so far:
1) Filled tank with a mixture of 1.5 cups baking soda with 5 gallons water to deodorize for 24 hours
Next I was going to do this:
2) Replace O-Rings
3) Clean all parts (do my best with dip tube, didn't think to grab a long dip tube brush)
4) Shake up a gallon of water and sanitizer
Am I doing this right? Is there anything else I should be doing? My next Coffee Porter will be done fermenting in two weeks, which will be the first to the keg! I'm very excited.
Not sure what you've been doing, but I've bottled over 900 bottles of beer in the last year and I've ever only had one that didn't carb, and it was because the rim of the bottle had a chip in it. And I am even using the twist off bottles with a bench capper.
In any case I've gone to kegging also. One thing I can suggest is to use unscented oxy clean instead of baking soda. I buy the no name stuff from Superstore (not sure if they have those in Ontario). Don't get the off brand from Walmart, that stuff sucks and leaves a difficult to remove residue.
I bought old kegs and most of the o-rings were fine. I did clean them well and used keg-lube on them though. Make sure you use a brush to clean the inside of the posts, mine had some crud in them even after a soak with oxy clean. I have a baby bottle brush that worked great for that.
I noticed that many of my kegs had the wrong poppits in them, and that on some of them the o-ring on the poppit is getting deformed. They still work fine, but I ordered the universal poppits to replace all of them as I've read good things about them.
Once the keg is all back together do a pressure test by filling it from your co2 tank with 20lbs of pressure. Then you can use soap and water (or starsan like I use) to see if you have any leaks on the poppits, posts, or lid. I've read that you should do this anytime you hook up and disconnect from the keg as the poppit can sometimes not seat correctly and has to be adjusted by pressing on it.
Also, I got a good deal on kegs from ontariobeerkegs.com because they had loose tops. I've been using household goop on them after sanding the steel and rubber a bit, and it seems to be holding up fine. After removing the stickers and giving it a good scrub with scotch pads they look almost as good as new.
Off brand walmart oxyclean - Check: Now I know where that god damned residue is from. I'll grab no-name from superstore (yes we have them here too).
I have the butterfly capper with the two side arms. Seems to always break a few bottles, and I end up with a lot of bad seals on the twist offs. At any rate, im kegging now so my bottling will be limited to trips with standard bottles instead of twist offs.
Thanks for the pressure test tip, didn't think about that. The LHBS did clean the corny first, they just recommend the baking soda and water to remove any remaining syrup aroma. LHBS even removed labels and did a simple exterior cleaning too.
Tonight I'll be breaking the keg down into parts and replacing O-rings (they don't look bad, but I'm tearing it down anyways). I'll be getting my CO2 filled tomorrow, so I'll test the pressure once its back together.
Thanks again for the tips, exactly what I was hoping for, more info from someone with much more experience :)
As far as me having experience, I've only kegged one beer about a week and a half ago, so I'm not much more ahead of you!
Drop caps in a cup of HOT not boiling water take them out while capping no more broken necks
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