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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Bottling/Kegging > Kegging - Different PSI on different kegs... Lots of Qs
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Old 10-25-2007, 07:49 PM   #1
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Default Kegging - Different PSI on different kegs... Lots of Qs

So, I'm getting into kegging as we speak and the kit I ordered came with a dual-body (3 guage) regulator, because I desire to serve my different styles at the appropriate carbonation levels.

Anyway, after doing some reading and research, this actually may be a little more difficult than just having the 2 regs, setting two different PSI, and serving my beer. I think I now realize (or I suppose this is my question!) that there is more involved than this... On with the questions and discussion:

1) I'll need to balance my set-up between the PSI of the keg and the serving of that keg. Correct?
1a) This is going to require different length beer lines for the different styles in addition to the dual regulators. Does this sound correct?


Based upon my reading, I think I'm on the right track. For this discussion lets assume my beer tower sits 2ft above the center of the keg and I serve at 40F through 3/16" beer line (with 2.7 pressure drop per ft).

For this first example/discussion let's assume I want to put an ESB on tap and a Belgian Wit - I want the ESB carbonated at 2.0 volumes and the Wit at 3.0 volumes.

2) I can't serve these out of the kegerator without different lengths of beer line I assume? The Wit at 3.0 volumes is probably going to be wayyy foamy compared to the ESB if I do this, no? Or maybe the ESB won't even make the tap? So, in order to have them served how I want them, I need to have the appropriate pressure and line length...

My calculations to "balance" the system:

ESB - Length of Line = 6.8PSI - (2*.5) - 1 All Divided by 2.7
Length of Line = 6.8 - 2 Divided by 2.7
Length of Line Needs to be: 1.77ft

Wit - Length of Line = 17.7PSI - 2 Divided by 2.7
Length of Line Needs to be: 5.81ft

Likewise, if I wanted to serve a normal American IPA at 2.4 volumes CO2:
IPA - Length of Line = 11.2PSI - 2 Divided by 2.7
Length of Line Needs to be: 3.4ft

3) Does this seem correct? If so, I guess I better stock a 1.75 ft, a 3.5 ft, and a 5.8 ft beer line and switch them out when I switch between different styles, no?
4) If I balance like this, do I ever have to change the PSI on the kegs - other than when switching styles? I mean, I've seen people talk about turning the PSI to 12 for a couple weeks, but then serving at 6PSI.
5) Is this b/c there system is only designed to serve at 6PSI without foaming?
6) If you turn the pressure down like this, wouldn't the keg eventually equalize at the 6PSI and be undercarbed?


I guess this should get the ball rolling... Thanks in advance for the help.

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Old 10-25-2007, 08:11 PM   #2
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Generically, you're right. If you want a PERFECT balance between pour speed and head, you'll need to stock a couple different lengths. Let's say a reasonable guess is one 6' line and one 3' line. The truth is, the most harm is having too SHORT a line because it will pour half a glass of foam. The problem with too LONG a line at a given pressure is simply a slower than desired pour. This is not a big problem. We're talking a 6-second pour vs. a 4 second pour.

Short answer, make two 7' lines and see how you like the pours. If you really think the ESB pours WAY too slowly, cut one of them down by a foot and try again.

The answer to #6 is yes. Lowering the pressure to compensate for a too-short line will lower the carbonation level over time. Many will try to argue against this but it's physics, not opinion. You may never notice the drop in carbonation because the beer might be gone by then.

Again, use your calculations as a start, but in practice build the lines long and test pour. I'd use 7' lines for both wits and american ales, then maybe have a 3-4' one on hand for your cask simulated English ales.

By the way, you're saving yourself a big headache by buying a new regulator. I bought a used one that had really badly out of whack guages. One of them read 10psi when the reg was pushing 16psi. Talk about balancing issues.

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Old 10-25-2007, 08:20 PM   #3
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Bobby_M - Appreciate the response... A little search after my post (yes, yes I know I should have searched 'balancing' before I posed) and I found some similar responses that you should just use longer line and let the lower PSI ales pour slower...

I think someone recommended even 10ft line but I think a 1.8 volume ale might pour a bitttt slow out of 10ft line... I think I'll start at 7.5' of line or so on each tap and go from there. I don't really expect to serve anything that I want above 3.0-3.2 volumes of CO2 anyway and everything less than that I can live with the slower pour.

Thanks again!

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Old 10-26-2007, 01:51 PM   #4
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Well, I just have been notified the place I ordered my conversion kit from only carries 1/4" ID beer line - this throws my calculations above off drastically I believe? From what I can find, 3/16" has a resistance of 2.7 per ft, whereas 1/4" only has a resistance of .7 per foot.

Am I going to need like 20 ft. of 1/4" so I'm not all foam?! Or should I just order some 3/16" from another source and replace the tubing that comes with the kit?

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Old 10-26-2007, 02:25 PM   #5
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I would just order the 3/16" line from somewhere else or see if your LHBS stocks it. I would only used the 1/4" line for a really long run to a draft tower.

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Old 10-26-2007, 02:28 PM   #6
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I started with 9' of 3/16" line, and I don't think I cut much off to achieve a good pour. Always better to start with a little extra and cut as required.

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Old 10-26-2007, 04:22 PM   #7
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It sounds like you might want to consider another supplier altogether for the whole kit. Have you checked out brewersdiscount.com?

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Old 10-26-2007, 04:59 PM   #8
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Looks like I'll just pick up some 3/16" from my LHBS - pretty sure they stock it. I'll start at 10' and back it down as needed.

As for considering another supplier, not really sure why he doesn't have 3/16" line. I believe I got a pretty good deal on everything else though. I paid $410 for the following:

2 Cornies - Ball Lock (reconditioned)
2 Extra Sets of O-Rings
Ball-Lock Quick Connects for Both
Tubing (Even though it is 1/4")
5# CO2 Tank (new)
Dual-Body (3 Gauge) Regulator (new)
Shut-Off Valves
Stainless Steel 3", Dual Tap Tower (new)
2x Perlicks (new)
2x 5-6" Stainless Drip Trays (new)

I think that about covers it, but I don't think what I paid is unreasonable, considering all but the cornies is brand new, is too bad... As I said in my other kegerator posts, I know I may have gotten off cheaper picking up a keg here, keg there, tower and perlicks from ebay, etc. etc. but going to 5 different places to get everything I needed just wasn't in my plan... If the convenience cost me an extra bill, then so be it, I suppose.

Weird he doesn't have 3/16" line though, that's for sure...

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Old 10-26-2007, 06:45 PM   #9
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Sounds like he bought a 1000' roll of 1/4" and is using it all up on gas/beerlines.

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Old 10-26-2007, 07:30 PM   #10
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^ Possibility I suppose! I couldn't believe the difference in pressure drop for a chance as minor as 1/4" v. 3/16"... I'm definitely going with 3/16"... It's like .50 per foot.

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