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Old 08-06-2012, 06:12 PM   #1
mrcromie
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Default Taking 5 gallon Corny keg from sea level to 7000 feet

Greetings to anyone willing to throw their $0.02 in...

I brew in Ventura, CA, pretty much at sea level. I'm taking an IPA to a wedding rehearsal dinner near Yosemite, around 7000 feet up. I've been reading through many posts but I'm having trouble answering my exact question, so here goes:

If I force carb as I normally do at sea level and then take the keg on a 5 hour road trip to 7000 feet, what precautions should I take to make sure the keg is ready to serve within 12 hours? Should I be venting the keg every 1000 feet on the way up?

Also, should I bring my 5# CO2 tank or use my little keg charger with the cartridges? We're traveling with a baby so space in the car is at a premium and I'd rather not take the tank if I don't have to.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Most people I've asked so far say "go ask Homebrew Talk". I'll be brewing tomorrow and kegging in about 2 weeks for the event on the 31st.

Thanks!!

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Old 08-06-2012, 06:59 PM   #2
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You're under greater pressure at sea level than at altitude. The difference is minimal though. I'll be doing something similar in mid-Sept. I was planning on naturally carbing the keg and taking my bottle. Not sure that you really need to do anything out of the ordinary.

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Old 08-06-2012, 07:09 PM   #3
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I wouldn't vent the keg since it'll be tricky to nail the right pressure without a regulator (I would also opt not to bring the co2 tank/regulator, but to just bring the cartridges---and a few extra at that in case there are mistakes :-)). The difference in PSI will be around 3.5 I think, so you could always "meet halfway" and carb to about 1.75 PSI less than you would at sea level. It'll seem like the beer is slightly more carbonated than you're used to since co2 will come out of solution faster at that altitude, but I don't think it'll be a big beal.

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Old 08-06-2012, 07:42 PM   #4
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You could actually vent the keg and monitor pressure at the same time with something like this, Gas Bleeder Valve You can keep the valve closed and see how the pressure changes. Bleed if necessary, might be a cool experiment.

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Old 08-06-2012, 07:57 PM   #5
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I wouldn't vent the keg, but I would make an extra long party tap, 12' of 3/16th or so. Better a slower pour than foam. Take the charger and 2-3 extra bottles. From my experience, you shouldn't leave the charger on the keg. Keep it in your pocket and boost the keg yourself as needed.

The biggest problem will be the heat. It was "fry an egg on your car hood" hot when I was there a couple weeks ago and I suspect it's even hotter. Chill the keg as soon as you can after arriving.

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Old 08-06-2012, 08:00 PM   #6
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Thank you all for the quick advice. If it was just taking homebrew to a party I wouldn't worry about it too much but since there will about 50 people (not all drinking beer but probably everyone will want a taste) I feel under pressure (sorry) to get this right. I don't really want to buy any new equipment since I'm already spending quite a bit on this trip. I'll be thinking it over whether to take the regulator/tank (so at least I know the pressure) or just the keg charger and eyeball it.

Thanks again for the responses, I'll let you all know what I do and how it turns out.

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Old 08-06-2012, 08:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david_42 View Post
I wouldn't vent the keg, but I would make an extra long party tap, 12' of 3/16th or so. Better a slower pour than foam. Take the charger and 2-3 extra bottles. From my experience, you shouldn't leave the charger on the keg. Keep it in your pocket and boost the keg yourself as needed.

The biggest problem will be the heat. It was "fry an egg on your car hood" hot when I was there a couple weeks ago and I suspect it's even hotter. Chill the keg as soon as you can after arriving.
Good advice, thanks. I actually thought about an extra long hose, mine is about 8". easy enough to get more. The dinner will be at a cabin so I'll be sticking the keg in a trashcan filled with ice for about 5 hours before the festivities begin. I'm also bringing a bunch of 22oz bottles of a saison that I slightly undercarbed so I'll see which method works best. Hopefully the beer will have time to cool and settle, or I'll be pouring in into pitchers until the foam settles.
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Old 08-06-2012, 09:15 PM   #8
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Here is a tidbit of information. The numbers below show altitude and the atmospheric pressure as you increase altitude. The pressure loss as you gain altitude can be seen as an increase of pressure in your keg. Basically it looks like you will gain approx 3.4 psi, which is minimal. Smarter folks than I may be able to clarify if any of this actually affects the volumes of CO2 in suspension. I think it would be minimal.

Altitude Air Pressure (psi)
Sea Level 14.7 psi
1,000 ft 14.2 psi
2,000 ft. 13.7 psi
3,000 ft. 13.2 psi
4,000 ft. 12.7 psi
5,000 ft. 12.2 psi
6,000 ft. 11.7 psi
7,000 ft. 11.3 psi
8,000 ft. 10.9 psi
9,000 ft. 10.5 psi
10,000 ft. 10.1 psi

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Old 08-07-2012, 08:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LansingX View Post
Here is a tidbit of information. The numbers below show altitude and the atmospheric pressure as you increase altitude. The pressure loss as you gain altitude can be seen as an increase of pressure in your keg. Basically it looks like you will gain approx 3.4 psi, which is minimal. Smarter folks than I may be able to clarify if any of this actually affects the volumes of CO2 in suspension. I think it would be minimal.
PV=nRT

Volume remains the same. Temperature (well, assuming serving temp is the same as carbonation temp) will remain the same. n and R are constants. So pressure inside the keg will remain exactly the same regardless of outside pressure.

I think all standard keg/line balancing policies apply here. The only difference is that when the beer hits the glass, CO2 might come out of solution slightly faster due to a higher relative pressure difference than standard. But I don't think this will be important enough to change carbonation methods or pressures.
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Old 08-08-2012, 02:42 PM   #10
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Sounds like my best bet is to grab an extra long hose for the picnic tap, allow the keg to sit, settle and chill for as long as I can before serving (best I can hope for is about 5 hours), and then pour with the expectation there will be a little more head than usual and make sure I leave space in the glass to account for it. I've read other posts about people taking kegs to the mountains and serving nothing but foam but it sounds like the shaking during transport was the culprit rather than the elevation.

The IPA is vigorously fermenting as I type, very happy I had the foresight to use a blowoff tube on this one. I opened one of the saisons I'm bringing last night and it was pretty nice so at yeast I'll have that to fall back on. ha!

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