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Old 02-07-2007, 07:56 PM   #1
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Default a little advice for a newbie

Okay, so I'm very new to the HB thing. In fact I haven't even bought all of my equipment yet(Saturday's adventure). My friends that have been brewing for a while have all told me to just bite the bullet and spend the extra $ on a kegging set up right from the start. The only reason they can give me is that bottling is very time consuming and boring. Most people here seem to bottle their HB and just about everything I've read on the net about HB talks about bottling, so I'm hoping for some help from people that are a bit less lazy than my friends.....

So my questions are;
1. Is there a major benefit to kegging besides saving time?
2. If I do go the kegging route do I still need to let the beer sit in the keg to condition, mature for a few weeks since I won't need to wait for natural carbonation to happen?(my friends let theirs sit for a few days but again, they're lazy )


Thanks in advance for any advice

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Old 02-07-2007, 08:02 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cnbudz
So my questions are;
1. Is there a major benefit to kegging besides saving time?
That's the biggy. Many believe that bulk aging in kegs leads to better flavor than aging in bottles. The ability to pour exactly the amount you want.

Quote:
2. If I do go the kegging route do I still need to let the beer sit in the keg to condition, mature for a few weeks since I won't need to wait for natural carbonation to happen?(my friends let theirs sit for a few days but again, they're lazy )
Green beer is green beer: in the couple weeks that a beer bottle conditions and carbonates, it is also aging: developing and melding flavor, yeasties "cleaning up after themselves," etc.

I personally don't think bottling is such a big deal. If I were you, I'd worry about the brewing process first and go the kegging route later if you decide to. FWIW, everyone seems to report drinking more beer when they keg.
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Old 02-07-2007, 08:03 PM   #3
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It's all up to you but the longer you wait the better it normally gets.
Kegging is more of a settup cost and you need dedicated space for it.

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Old 02-07-2007, 08:08 PM   #4
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I started kegging right away. I didn't want to bother with bottling and didn't want to deal with sediment on the bottom of my bottles. In addition to that, you have greater control over carbination. Too little? Turn it up! Too much? Turn it down! That's REALLY nice.

Just think - do you really want to clean and sanatize ALL those bottles? If you don't mind, don't bother with kegging, but it seems that most people go the kegging route eventually.

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Old 02-07-2007, 08:12 PM   #5
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Benefits to kegging are numerous. First off, I find bottling to be a PITA.....kegging is easier on all fronts. Now, it is important to say that I'd do the extra work of bottling if I thought that gave me a better end product. However, I honestly don't think it does. The initial investment for kegging is much greater, but after than adding capacity is ad easy as buying another cornie for $20 or $20 or something. Simple.

The two ways to go with carbonating the beer while kegging are force carbonization and keg conditioning. Force carbonation is when you literally force CO2 into the beer in one of two ways. First is you set the desired pressure on the regulator and let the beer sit for a few weeks. The CO@ will slowly dissolve into the beer and you will end up with carbonation. The other way is to set the CO2 regulator to a higher pressure (determined by pre-defined charts that balance beer temp with desired volumes of CO2 <fizziness>) and then, right after you keg the beer, shake the sh*t out of the keg for 10 or so minutes. This makes the CO2 dissolve into the beer right then and there. You then let the keg settle out for a few days and it's good.

EITHER WAY - aging the keg is, IMHO essential. Force carbonation is no replacement for aging the keg. "Batch aging", letting the entire batch of beer age in one vessel, created a superior result than bottle aging, IMO. I usually force carbonate my kegs by shaking them let them sit in the cellar for a few weeks, unless I just need to drink them right away.

Keg condition is a different beast. You prime with sugar or DME, blow off the head space with CO2 at low pressure to rid the keg of oxygen, then let the keg sit for a month+. It takes time for the keg to naturally build up carbonation, and all the while the beer is aging.

Some beers, like stouts, I like to keg condition. I think they greatly benefit from the added aging time and the natural carbonation. In the end it's all a matter of taste.

The only negatives I can come up with for kegging is that you need the space for a keg fidge and giving you beer away is harder than having it bottled. You will find that you really, really will want a counterpressure bottle filler or beer gun device, with which you can tap keg beer right out onto bottles w/o letting the head/carbonization escape. Again, kegging = more money. It will MAKE you keep spending money.

Good luck tho! ...post too long to spell check....hopefully nothing that's bad!!!

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Old 02-07-2007, 08:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cnbudz
So my questions are;
1. Is there a major benefit to kegging besides saving time?
2. If I do go the kegging route do I still need to let the beer sit in the keg to condition, mature for a few weeks since I won't need to wait for natural carbonation to happen?(my friends let theirs sit for a few days but again, they're lazy )

Welcome to the passion.

I think the vast majority of HB'rs start off bottling their brew. The time and expense it takes to assemble kegging equipment is substantially more than simply buying a bottling siphon, a capper, some caps and bottles and getting right to it.

Advantages to bottling with your inaugural outing include:

Easier to store, chill and serve from bottles. (You'll need a bottle opener )
If you have enough bottles on hand (start drinking Sam Adams NOW), then you can finish up your first batch and move on to your second, third and fourth right away. You'll find that brewing satisfies, but only until you read the next intriguing recipe. (Ala Caramel Cream Ale - Thank you Cheesefood)

I have 6 batches in various stages, four of them in bottles and two more that will be bottled within 2 weeks. If I were only kegging, I'd be limited to the number of kegs I own and my abiltiy to chill and serve.

The other thing is the variety of HB you can offer your guests (or yourself). My fridge will be stocked with 7 or 8 varieties by Memorial Day (assuming I don't polish it off).

Now...all that being said...I cannot WAIT until I get my two-tap system and my Sanyo 4912... I mean c'mon...drawing a fresh draft of beer for your neighbor in your garage?

Oh yeah - You don't need to let your keg sit if you decide to force carbonate your keg instead of priming with corn sugar or DME.
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Old 02-07-2007, 08:26 PM   #7
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I have one keg and a recently purchased Kegerator, and though I'm only on my second kegged batch it is nice and I plan on getting a second keg soon.
HOWEVER I really don't think bottling is that big of a PITA. In fact I have a bucket full of empties soaking at home right now. When I get home from work I'll be peeling all the labels (won't take long after they soak for this long).
WHat is nice about bottling is being able to bring some beer with you whenever you want. I have a couple friends I sit by at the hockey game who I never see outside the stadium, but we got to talking about beer, so I was able to smuggle a couple in for them. It's hard to smuggle in a keg

So I would say if you have the space and money to keg then by all means do so, but don't keg exclusively. It's always nice to have a couple batches bottled as well as a keg (or more) at home for yourself.

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Old 02-08-2007, 02:13 AM   #8
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Just got home from my favorite local pub, had some Ithaca Caskzilla, pretty good stuff..... Thank you all for the great advice. I think I'll start w/ bottling(especially since I've been building up my stock of bottles over the past 2 weeks while I've been doing all of my research, reading while drunk can be pretty tough btw) and make my way to kegging after I've made a few batches. Thanks again and I'm sure I'll be back w/ more questions in the near future....

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