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Old 06-27-2012, 12:27 AM   #1
jsmith32
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Default A story of a kegerator, oxidation, and spoiled beer :-(

I will try to keep this story as short as possible and try not to get too emotional in the process.

My equipment:

- 3-tap kegerator w/ Perlick 'perl' faucets
- 3 ball-lock kegs, 2 of which I had never used before, full of primed beer
- 20 oz CO2 tank (which was less than half full) with pin valve regulator set to about 6 PSI, feeding into a 3-way gas distributor

All three taps went dry at almost the same time so I decided to swap all three empty kegs out with these three full kegs on Saturday (three days ago).

I sanitized all three liquid lines and then hooked up all three kegs to the gas and their respective liquid lines. I then poured out about a half-glass of each beer to ensure the system was functioning correctly. Two of the three taps had a nice flow and the beer tasted fine. One of the three taps had a significantly slower/lesser flow but the beer also tasted fine.

I checked and double-checked all connections - particularly of the keg with the impaired flow, but to no avail. Same result. I swapped gas and liquid lines to see if the problem was with the lines, and in doing so I believe I was able to isolate it to that single keg. Perhaps illogically, I decided to leave the system alone, thinking that perhaps there was a blockage in the liquid line in the one keg and that maybe it would clear itself out.

I tried all three taps today (three days later), and...all three beers had noticeable oxidation. The suspect keg was the worst, but the other two kegs definitely had been affected. The flow on the suspect keg was still very slow and the flow on the other two kegs had also slowed. Oddly enough, there still appeared to be CO2 in the tank.

After beating myself up about possibly losing three kegs worth of beer, I sat down and tried to think about what possibly could be wrong. My initial thought was a defective/leaky gas post on the suspect keg. However, wouldn't that have resulted in a complete loss of gas pressure and an empty CO2 tank?

Any thoughts on this one?

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Old 06-27-2012, 12:38 AM   #2
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if you had a CO2 leak you would have lost your CO2. Even a small leak can drain a tank pretty quickly. Since you have positive pressure in the kegs I don't see how O2 could have gotten to the beer.

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Old 06-27-2012, 12:44 AM   #3
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Makes sense. I pulled the pressure relief valves on each of the three kegs too and all of them seemed be holding pressure. Perhaps it wasn't a leak.

I'm still baffled, though, as to what else could have caused the impaired flow from the one keg, and the common oxidation (man, now I'm second guessing that) between the three kegs. Seems as if it's related to the gas somehow.

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Old 06-27-2012, 12:44 AM   #4
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[this post is a result of impatience, my apologies to the moderators!]

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Old 06-27-2012, 02:09 AM   #5
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Hi

Maybe the common issue is an infection rather than straight oxidation. In swapping around the lines you *might* have driven it from one keg to the rest. Since I wasn't there watching you, not much way to exactly know what you did or didn't do.

Past that - what does the CO2 smell like? The other possibility is gunk in the bottom of the cartridge. Not at all a common thing, but it can happen.

Bob

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Old 06-27-2012, 02:39 AM   #6
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Dammit, new news:

1) Beer in gas line.

2) Pressure setting of regulator said 6 PSI but to be honest with you that might have been back pressure from the kegs and the regulator may not have been regulating at all. This might explain the lack of flow from the one keg.

3) Bob, your explanation is plausible, but I'm thinking if there was a cross-infection, the evidence that I presented above might be an even more likely reason.

Ugh. Live & learn. I'll keep investigating.

Thanks for your replies.

Jason

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Old 06-27-2012, 03:50 PM   #7
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The impeded beer flow could be due to a gunked up dip tube. Maybe some chucks of something got in there. Maybe some mold is growing in there. That could explain an infection and a slow pour. Sounds like you need to tear down that keg. Can you xfer to another one?

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Old 06-27-2012, 04:13 PM   #8
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Okay, it's very possible that I may have been using the "jump to conclusions" mat a little too much yesterday.

I disconnected my whole system (kegs, liquid, and gas lines), re-sanitized the liquid and gas lines, bumped up the PSI to about 8 and made sure the regulator was actually working, and then re-connected one of the kegs that I thought might still be okay. The beer tasted fine.

I'm still very afraid of the one keg with the impeded flow and with the distinct off-flavors, whatever they may be, so I may end up just dumping that one (versus transferring that beer to another keg) and doing a post-mortem to see if I can figure out what happened.

Thanks for bearing with me.

Jason

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Old 06-28-2012, 12:25 PM   #9
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Hi

Panic is a very reasonable response to large quanities of beer going bad...

Bob

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