TAP-A-DRAFT: first impression...
Well, my tap-a-draft keg system arrived in Burnaby Canada a week ago and immediately put my Canadian blonde beer into them after 2 weeks in the secondary. I've waited a week for the dextrose to carb the 6 litre bottles and couldn't wait anymore to tap the damn thing and give it a try!
A few things I've found out...
 Carb these bottles like you would any other bottle. I used 12 flat teaspoons for each 6 litre bottle. I guess I'll use around 9 when I make a stout.
 Stand these bottles straight up like any other bottle. I've been told by a few that these bottles can leak if left on it's side under pressure.
 The tap-a-draft auto regulates the bottles to 15psi. I don't know if that's good or not, but that's it. Adjust with dextrose I guess if you want more or less carb.
 If you live outside the USA and you want to buy the 8 gram CO2 cartridges you'll have to find them in your own country. The tap-a-draft people can't ship these via air.
 If you live in Canada you can get the 8 gram CO2 and nitro cartridges at Canadian Supertore and London Drugs. Also on ebay.ca
 I haven't tried the nitro cartridges, but the folks at the tap-a-draft company told me to put one CO2 cartridge FIRST, let it shoot in, then put in the nitro cartridge in the other chamber. I'm also gonna try to rig a restrictor on the tap end to emulate a stout tap when I get around to making stout in the fall and see how it works out.
This is the company website. They were great in answering all my questions.
I poured my first draft beer today, and although the beer was still green, it was great! The time saved from bottling alone is worth the investment. Also fits great in my fridge and doesn't hog up much space.
It's no professional draft system, but for someone with limited space and cash, this is the best one can get (to all I know).
Hopefully it will last a while :-)
Anyone with experience and tips with this system please give some pointers on this new toy. :-)
Here are some great TAP-DRAFT faqs for those interested in this little keg system:
Below is a list of FAQ. We recommend you read these as they will help you get the best from your Tap-A-Draft system.
I'm thinking of converting to kegging my beer....Is the tap-a-draft better than a larger keg system?
Each system has its advantages. Tap-a-draft can be used on its own or in combination with larger keg systems. The tap-a-draft will suit those brewers who wish to have on tap a variety of beers and who are looking at the advantage of transporting their cold beer easily. Each 6 litre bottle can be filled with a different beer type and matured ready for use. The portability of the tap-a-draft system is one of its great features.. You can take it to the beach, fishing, parties, barbecues or pool side. A blue ice tote bag ensures your beverage stays cold wherever you need a cold beer.
As many people don't have room for a larger keg system and dedicated fridge, they would find the tap-a-draft fits easily into their existing fridge.
Is the Tap-A-Draft expensive to run?
If you naturally prime your beer, then you will require 2 x 8gm C02 bulbs to give extra carbonation and dispensing pressure. Each 8gm C02 bulb costs 80 cents, and can be purchased for less if bulk buying. In some instances you may need to top up with another C02. Different beer types require more or less C02 (darker beers and stouts tend to be served less carbonated)
You also save money by not having to clean 30 bottles with hot water and cleaning compounds and not purchasing crown seals . You only need to clean 4 x 6 litre tap-a-draft bottles to bottle an entire brew.
How long will the 6 litre bottles last?
The manufacturer suggest 10 uses from each 6 litre bottle however we have customers who have trebled this quota. Provided the bottles are not cleaned with boiling or hot water they will last a very long time. A mild detergent clean followed by a good rinse is all that is required to keep the bottles in good condition. Use only cool water. Use a soft horsehair brush if needed.
Why are the tap-a-draft bottles so expensive..after all they are only strengthened PET bottles?
Unfortunately the bottles are manufactured in the U.S.A and are shipped from Colorado. Subsequently there is overland road carrier to closest sea port, International shipping costs, dock costs, FOB costs, Terminal handling charges , Custom clearance, fuel surcharges, insurances, and a list of import costs , ...get the gist. The exchange rate is not favourable at times and also unfortunately one gets very few bottles to a shipping pallet!
When the tap-a-draft bottles arrived they were slightly dinted..will this have any detrimental affect.
The PET Bottles will bounce back to perfect shape. You can achieve this by blowing into the bottle or if the dint is severe the first time you carbonate or charge with C02 they will resume their normal shape. This has had no effect on their reliability. While the bottles may appear flimsy..they are in fact unbreakable (well unless you jump on one).They are actually stronger and safer to use than some small metal kegs on the market.
How do I clean the tap?
Hot water, not boiling, should be run through the inlet/outlet tube after use. Do not soak the tap in water. Periodic removal, cleaning and replacement of inlet hose and outlet hose is recommended as well as the C02 rings. Careful study of the maintenance brochure is recommended. Keeping your equipment in good working order will ensure a long trouble free life.
I can't get the C02 to charge properly, the bulbs are not piercing?
check the small O rings where the C02 goes. If these rings are missing or swollen, the C02 will not pierce. If the bulbs do not pierce correctly, this can cause an unnecessary leak of gas from the unit.
earlier systems have black O rings. Later systems have clearer silicone rings. Replacement rings are available in the maintenance kit.
Sometimes when I charge a C02 bulb, gas leaks from the top side of the unit, is this a problem?
The regulators on the tap are designed to vent 'excess' pressure. Always wait a while after charging with a c02 bulb before charging the second bulb...this allows time for the C02 to be absorbed into the beer. Also check the black O rings have not swollen and are stopping the Co2 from charging correctly into the bottle.
How much sugar should I use when naturally carbonating with priming sugar?
It is not necessary to use as much priming sugar as you would in beer bottles. You only need to create enough secondary fermentation to give a slight gas pressure...which is enough to preserve and mature the beer. You can make up any shortfall in pressure when you use the c02 bulbs or the n2 bulbs.
Why does the beer have to be cold when charging with C02.
Co2 is only absorbed into cold liquids. If the beer is warm it will not gas up correctly.
What do I need to do to keep the system running well?
There are several parts that need constant monitoring and often replacing. These are available in the maintenance kit.
failure to keep these parts in good order will lessen the life of the unit. It is less expensive to keep the parts in good condition than letting the unit run down to a point where it is damaged.
How many Co2 chargers are required?
There is no set answer to this question. So much depends on whether you naturally prime your beer first, (recommended for longer term maturing) the style of beer, etc. It may take each brewer a couple of attempts to reach their best level of carbonation depending on the style of beer, the age or maturation level of the beer and the overall makeup of the beer.
Does natural priming give better results?
We believe that natural carbonation has many advantages, probably in part to the fact that the beer is left to mature longer when naturally primed. A naturally primed beer tends to have a better head retention as well.
For what purpose would I use nitrogen (n2) chargers?
These give an improved texture and head retention to the beer. You would use 1 x N2 cartridge and 1 C02 cartridge
(pierce the C02 cartridge first)
I have been naturally priming but have found that the screw caps leak?
You may be using the wrong caps for natural priming. You need the deeper white plastic caps with O rings.
These are reusable for the long term. Initially they are a little stiff to use so we recommend soaking in hot water to soften. Once they have been used a few times they expand a bit making them very easy to screw on ...and they give a 100% seal.
Does the tap-a-draft fit in a standard fridge?
Yes it does however some bar fridges will be too small. If the tap-a-draft does not fit front to back, it may fit sideways in some smaller fridges.
Measuements with tap fitted are 44 x 17cm.
Can I use the Tap-A-Draft for Ginger beer?
Absolutely..it is fantastic for Ginger beer. Virtually any carbonated beverage can be stored and served from the tap-a-draft unit.
Doesn't it still take the full 3+ weeks to carb your beer even in the TAD? Is your beer flat?
I heard that you can use only CO2 to carb the beer, but I don't see the point of it... that would be 4 CO2 cartridges for 1 bottle. That can get expensive.
I have one of these set-ups I love it
it is great for apfelwein, hefe's/american wheat, and IPA'a
mainly it should be used for brews that are good to drink after they have been carbed
granted this is just my opinion
Sounds like Good Stuff brewNdrink
I also wanted to welcome another fellow Canuck to the Board :mug:
You mention your drinking Canadian Blonde...one of my favorites;
Been using theTAD system for a while myself. Love it, fits nicely on a shelf in the fridge and is easy to take along to a party or picnic.
I used a tap-a-draft for about six months and was for the most part satisfied with it.
Here are some tips:
You can buy replacement caps from a wine supply store that have a plastic seal in them. These work much better than the caps supplied. With the replacements there is no need to worry about putting them on their sides.
I marked the bottles with a felt pen to indicate which part of the bottle is 'the bottom' when is in the fridge with the tap-a-draft head on. I did this so that when I put it in the fridge to chill prior to tapping, I could put it on it's side in the same orientation it will be when the head is put on. This lets the yeast and sediment settle to the proper spot.
Sometimes it will seem like there is no c02 because you will open the tap and no beer comes out. This probably isn't the case. The little rubber tube often sticks to itself. Give it a good pull/squeeze/massage and it should start to flow.
Well, I have to chime in and fully endorse the tap-a-draft system.
I have no space in my house for a kegerator, so I was searching for a solution to bottling... took a chance on the tap-a-draft. Now, I'm only working on my first 6 liter bottle (tasty Belgium Wheat), but I am totally impressed so far. I love the little footprint it makes in the fridge, as opposed to a kegerator.
TAD is not a replacement for a kegerator in my mind, but given my limitations I'm happy with the TAD.
Just wondering, I've noticed that if the tap-a-draft has been sitting in my fridge for 2 weeks+ that it needs another CO2 cartridge, totaling 3 for 1 bottle. Do I have a tiny leak, or is this normal? If I polish off 1 bottle in a couple days there isn't a problem, as I use 2 CO2 cartridges.
I've also purchased the little tote bag that easily carries 1 tap-a-draft bottle. Excellent when I bring brew to picnics, camping, etc. I put a few iced gel packs inside the tote bag and stays cold for hours (from an already cold bottle).
Great system! I have 6 bottles that I hold 2 batches with (plus some bottled brew for the excess).
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