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Old 09-20-2006, 04:51 PM   #1
debtman7
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Default small scale kegging...

I'd like to start kegging, but full size kegging seems pretty impractical. It's not the cost of the kegging setup, but the room and cost of the other stuff you need. The big problem for me, and probably many others, is refridgeration. To keep kegs cold, I'd need another fridge, and I'm already on the lookout for a fridge to use for lagering, so I'm talking two fridges now. Since I've finished our basement, I have limited room to put 2 fridges... Plus, I don't really want to have to go down to the basement to pour a beer...

With all that in mind, I'm looking at ways to avoid bottling but still be able to keep a supply of beer upstairs in the main fridge...

So far I've come across various items, which apparently, depending on who you ask, all suck...

1) Tap-a-draft system

Price is right. Size is right. I like that it's easily portable. I like that it can use 3 liter soda bottles, making replacing the bottles pretty cheap. Several other beer forums seem to love it, but google groups holds many bad comments about it. Mainly issues with it taking more carts to dispense than it should, over/under carbonating, popping valves, etc etc.

2) Philtap/mini-keg

Looks cooler than the tap-a-draft, all metal construction seems like it would be sturdier. But there's a lot of complaints about mini-kegs not holding pressure and not lasting more than 2-3 uses. Also has adjustable pressure, which is a plus (you can tweak the carbonation level) and a minus (um, you have to fiddle and may blow stuff up).

3) 2.5 Gal keg with injector (http://www.williamsbrewing.com/KEG_I...M_P1762C44.cfm)

This is tempting me... At 17" tall I can probably squeeze it in the main fridge. If I can get a used keg, I can probably put the whole thing together for less than $80. I also have a keg I can use later if I want to upgrade to full kegging. I wouldn't call it portable, but you could certainly haul it around. You can also easily switch out kegs to switch brews. Downside? Fitting in a standard fridge might be an issue, I have to measure. At 2.5 gallons, it's likely to take longer to drain it and who knows how well the mini CO2 cart will dispense it over 1-2 months.

If anyone has done any of the 3 methods above, let me know what success you had. I'm curious about the pros and cons of each method. We also don't drink our brew that quickly, maybe a dozen bottles a week or less, so longer term storage and maintaining carbonation in the fridge over time are important considerations.

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Old 09-20-2006, 05:38 PM   #2
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Don't do it. None of the systems you listed are worthwhile. Your brewing will grow and your friends and their thirst will grow. I have a hard time keeping 5 gallon corny kegs full. 5 gallons is only 2.5 cases of beer.

I have carbed beer in 3 gallon soda bottles and it works alright using The Carbonator. But save yourself the grief and buy a co2 tank and regulator instead of trying to keep up with the co2 cartridge usage. A 5 lb tank of co2 costs $10 to refill and will last multiple times longer than $10 worth of cartridges.

You can put your (COLD!)beer in a 3 gallon bottle and screw on "The Carbonator" and then depress the tip of the carbonator while squeezing the bottle to remove any air. Once the air is out and some beer squirts out, release the tip of the cabonator and it seals the bottle where no air can get back in to the bottle. Now you use whatever means of co2 that you have to put 30 lbs of co2 into the bottle. It will expand the crushed bottle when you do this. I shake the crap out of the bottle . After that , I make sure to put 30 lbs of co2 pressure in the bottle and shake it some more and refill with co2. Now you can depress the tip of THE Caronator to release the pressure slowly. All the co2 pressure in the headspace will come out but the co2 in suspension will stay. Now slowly remove The Carbonator cap and replace with the original soda bottle cap. Don't worry. If you are easy with the bottle and do not squeeze it the bottle will still have co2 in it so no oxygen will be in the headspace to ruin the beer as it ages or is in storage.

You can however buy a co2 tank and regulator on e-bay for under 100 bucks. You can buy 4 corny kegs for $50 on some websites. Then you have to have Quick disconnect fittings and hoses and new gaskets. So for @$200 you can have a nice keg setup that can easily be expanded.

If I were you I would go the corny keg route. Even if you drop $100 on the co2 tank and regulator and use that to bottle in soda bottles till you can afford some corny kegs.

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Old 09-20-2006, 06:01 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dougjones31
If I were you I would go the corny keg route. Even if you drop $100 on the co2 tank and regulator and use that to bottle in soda bottles till you can afford some corny kegs.
Like I said, the problem is not affording some corny kegs. The problem is that a corny keg won't fit in my fridge. And honestly, if I'd have to store a keg of beer down in the basement storage room (only place with room for a spare fridge), I'd rather just bottle.
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Old 09-20-2006, 06:57 PM   #4
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There are 3 gallon cornies. They are expensive, but will fit in just about any fridge.

Have you looked at Party Pigs? Dave over at Oregon Trails sells his ales in Pigs, as an alternative to kegs. He also has some pink foam shells that fit over the Pigs. The size is right for firdges and the pressure bladder keeps the oxygen out of the ale. Two pigs will handle a 5 gallon batch.

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Old 09-20-2006, 07:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david_42
There are 3 gallon cornies. They are expensive, but will fit in just about any fridge.

Have you looked at Party Pigs? Dave over at Oregon Trails sells his ales in Pigs, as an alternative to kegs. He also has some pink foam shells that fit over the Pigs. The size is right for firdges and the pressure bladder keeps the oxygen out of the ale. Two pigs will handle a 5 gallon batch.
I was thinking the 2.5 gallon cornies looked like they might fit, can they be stored on their side? The other problem though is they need a CO2 charge to dispense, I don't know what would happen if you use a little injection charger with a cartridge and keep it in the fridge, would it last?

Party Pig is another idea. The bags seem like a hassle though, but on the plus side you don't have to worry about over/under carbonating. Cost wise the tap-a-draft or mini keg is probably cheaper per batch since the CO2 charges cost less than the bags, but then if you need to buy new PET bottles or mini kegs every 8 batches, it may be a wash...
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Old 09-20-2006, 07:31 PM   #6
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oops you guys beat me to the punch about the little cornies.

I have seen all kinds of kegs made by cutting the top of a cornelius off and welding it onto another stainless container. I have one Sankey that I did that too. I did not want to waste money on a sankey tap and the damned thing is hard to take apart and put back together. So I cut the top out and cut the top off of a spare cornie keg then welded it to the sankey.

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Old 09-20-2006, 08:32 PM   #7
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Hmmm, 3 gallon kegs seem to be almost impossible to find and those that do sell them, they cost 3-4x as much as a used 5 gallon keg...

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Old 09-20-2006, 10:04 PM   #8
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If you know someone who can do the welding, you can always buy 5 gallon cornies and have them cut down.

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Old 09-20-2006, 10:12 PM   #9
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Alternatively, I'm thinking the way to go might be to find a mini fridge to make a kegerator out of. I could slide a mini fridge into the laundry room off the kitchen which is moderately convenient. I'm not sure how easy it would be to find a cheap, used mini fridge large enough for a cornie + co2 tank and without a freezer section. Most of them seem to have a freezer built in. Might be possible to rip that out though...

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Old 09-20-2006, 10:57 PM   #10
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I thought about ripping the freezer out of my little fridge, but alas and coils from the fridge continued to the freezer section....Cutting them would of be a disaster.

All I had to do to mine was take of the door shelving....even though I can still only get one in the little fridge. Soon my full size fridge (at my father-in-laws) will live at my house....ONCE THE FRIGGIN BASEMENT GETS RENOVATED FROM THE FLOOD WE HAD!!!

IGOR

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