Beer gas in CO2 cylinder?

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Tom R

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I was about to purchase a used nitrogen regulator from a member here, but was told by my LHBS that the local welding supply shop exchanges beer gas in CO2 cylinders. So I'd need to use a CO2 regulator.

I hadn't heard of this before. Anybody here using CO2 cylinders for beer gas?
 

micraftbeer

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I'm not sure I understand the question. If you're asking if anyone uses CO2 to carbonate and push beer out of their kegs, then the answer is an overwhelming yes. That is but far the typical method.

Nitrogen is more rare.
 
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Tom R

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I am looking to add 70/30 beer gas and a stout tap to my kegerator (which already uses CO2).

I expected to buy a nitrogen regulator for use with a beer gas cylinder, but apparently the local beer gas distributor uses CO2 cylinders for beer gas. So I'd need to use another CO2 regulator

This seems unusual to me , so I thought I'd ask if other HBT users had seen this.

Anybody?
 

doug293cz

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I am looking to add 70/30 beer gas and a stout tap to my kegerator (which already uses CO2).

I expected to buy a nitrogen regulator for use with a beer gas cylinder, but apparently the local beer gas distributor uses CO2 cylinders for beer gas. So I'd need to use another CO2 regulator

This seems unusual to me , so I thought I'd ask if other HBT users had seen this.

Anybody?
The gas doesn't care whether it is a nitrogen or CO2 regulator or tank. But, tanks for different gases have different threads, so require regulators with matching threads.

Brew on :mug:
 
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Tom R

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I see.
I thought that the nitrogen cylinders and regulators were required due to the much higher cylinder pressure.

Thanks for the explanation.
 

doug293cz

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I see.
I thought that the nitrogen cylinders and regulators were required due to the much higher cylinder pressure.

Thanks for the explanation.
You can't put as much pressure on beer gas as pure nitrogen. If you try, then the CO2 will condense to a liquid and change the gas ratio.

Brew on :mug:
 
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Tom R

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See, there's another reason why I should have taken physics!
Thanks Doug.
 

micraftbeer

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Ok, so not my thread, but here's something new for me to learn about. I've never heard of "beer gas". What is it, and what are the advantages of it to make you research this more complicated usage thing?
 

Sunfire96

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Ok, so not my thread, but here's something new for me to learn about. I've never heard of "beer gas". What is it, and what are the advantages of it to make you research this more complicated usage thing?
It's a mixture of nitrogen and CO2 for you to serve your beers "on nitro". It's not pure nitrogen, so it's called beer gas
 

duncan.brown

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What is it, and what are the advantages of it to make you research this more complicated usage thing?
Beer gas is also used in long-draw draft systems where you need a higher pressure to get the beer to the tap than the equilibrium pressure of CO2 in properly carbonated beer. A blend of 60/40 or 70/30 CO2/N2 is used to prevent over carbonating the beer at the required serving pressure. Stouts more typically use blend of 25/75 CO2/N2.
 

DavidWood2115

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Beer gas is also used in long-draw draft systems where you need a higher pressure to get the beer to the tap than the equilibrium pressure of CO2 in properly carbonated beer. A blend of 60/40 or 70/30 CO2/N2 is used to prevent over carbonating the beer at the required serving pressure. Stouts more typically use blend of 25/75 CO2/N2.
Larger long-draft systems use gas blenders to make beer gas on site. As @doug293cz notes above, you can’t store beer gas at high pressure. So if you use a lot, it is cheaper to store CO2 and nitrogen separately, at high pressure, and mix it yourself. (But that’s not a homebrewer’s problem).
 

duncan.brown

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Or you can drop $7k+ on a nitrogen generator so you can get your nitrogen from the air to blend with your CO2. I’d be impressed by the home brewer who needs one of these though!

 

duncan.brown

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To the OPs question, this response is consistent with the policy of the gas places in my area:


The gas might not care about the cylinder, but the guy who fills my cylinders cares :D
 
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Tom R

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Deadalus

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The gas doesn't care whether it is a nitrogen or CO2 regulator or tank. But, tanks for different gases have different threads, so require regulators with matching threads.

Brew on :mug:
Which appear to be size CGA-320 for the usual food grade CO2 regulators and commonly CGA-580 for nitrogen? Focusing just on what homebrewers might be using here. These are the sizes available at Airgas. Airgas offers beer gas in the CGA-580 size. My local Airgas only offers it in a "size 40" tank which I think is close in size to a 5lb CO2 cylinder but is slightly different. I'm still trying to work this out and like the OP, I was surprised that the beer gas was going into the usual style CO2 tank.

And to the OP, if you do end up buying a CGA-580 gauge (Nitrogen style), the low pressure (the one you set) gauges on those have different ranges. Sometimes that range is broad as compared to the normal range you might use as a homebrewer. You don't need the gauge to go up to say 800 psi. You'll be working somewhere in the roughly 30-50 psi range and that might be hard to dial if the upper limit goes too high. (Tick marks are small.) But it all depends on what style tank you have available locally.
 

Deadalus

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They sell these:


Allows a CO2 Regulator to be used with a nitrogen tank. So much for CO2 Regulator not being able to hold pressure.
Would you be exceeding the high pressure gauge though using that? If you are serving two or more beers on different gases (CO2 and Beer gas), you would need to have two regulators anyway. The two styles are pretty close in price to begin with, although in searching, it appeared that generally the Nitrogen regulators were built a little better on average, more brass, more industrial, higher pressures, perhaps a little more in cost. The piece that seems to change the price the most on the regulators is the regulator dial. A lot of cheap CO2 regulators with the flat head screwdriver adjustor. I saw a lot of the Nitrogen ones with t-handles instead.
 

oakbarn

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I do not think they would sell it without a Huge Disclaimer if pressure was an issue. It says that it is designed to use a CO2 regulator on a Nitrogen Bottle.

This is the only disclaimer:
Warning
WARNING: This product has Brass components. Brass alloys are known to contain trace amounts of Lead, which is known to the State of California to cause cancer and reproductive harm. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov.
 

Deadalus

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I do not think they would sell it without a Huge Disclaimer if pressure was an issue. It says that it is designed to use a CO2 regulator on a Nitrogen Bottle.

This is the only disclaimer:
Warning
WARNING: This product has Brass components. Brass alloys are known to contain trace amounts of Lead, which is known to the State of California to cause cancer and reproductive harm. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov.
They are a little lax. Here's what kegconnection (CO2 Regulator to Nitrogen Tank Adapter) says
MAKE SURE YOUR CO2 REGULATOR IS RATED FOR HIGH ENOUGH PRESSURE BEFORE USING THIS CONVERTER.

Do not use with Taprite Plastic bonnet CO2 regulators! Make sure your CO2 Regulator is rated for Pressure on your Nitrogen Cylinder!!!
Sometimes warnings like that only get put there after somebody does something unexpected. There is a difference between the two threads that is standardized. I have no idea why it is important and I have no idea whether it may not be of any importance to homebrewer uses. I did see that my HP gauge on my Co2 tank only went to 3000 psi while the Nitrogen regulator goes to 4000 psi, seemed like something was different.
 
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duncan.brown

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Sometimes warnings like that only get put there after somebody does something unexpected. There is a difference between the two threads that is standardized. I have no idea why it is important and I have no idea whether it may not be of any importance to homebrewer uses. I did see that my HP gauge on my Co2 tank only went to 3000 psi while the Nitrogen regulator goes to 4000 psi, seemed like something was different.
Micromatic's CO2 and N2 primary regulators are both pressure tested to 2900 psi (in fact, I think the only difference is CGA-320 vs CGA-580 threads):
Both these have a high-pressure gauge that goes to 3000 psi.

However, Taprite's cheaper CO2 regulators have gauges that only go to 2000 psi and aren't tested to as high pressure. Taprite say:
For your safety, never use a primary co2 regulator with a polycarbonate bonnet with nitrogen alone. the nitrogen tank’s high pressure may damage your co2 regulator and cause bodily harm or death. only primary regulators with zinc (metal) adjustment bonnets should be used with nitrogen. secondary regulators with polycarbonate bonnets may be used with co2 or nitrogen because the high pressure associated with the cylinder itself is reduced to a safe working pressure through use of a primary regulator.

Micromatic says:
Gas suppliers have difficulties raising the ratio of CO2 in the mix [above 25% CO2 / 75% N2] as this gas eventually liquefies under high pressure in the cylinder. [...] The internal pressure of mixed gas cylinders is also considerably higher than a cylinder containing only CO2, thus increasing the potential risk of an accident

My local gas places are pretty strict that O2 goes in an O2 tank (CGA-540 thread), CO2 goes in a CO2 tank (CGA-320 thread), and N2 or beer gas goes in an N2 tank (CGA-580 thread), so in practice the point is moot for me.
 

duncan.brown

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doug293cz

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The linked article reads:
Since Beer Gas is 75% nitrogen, a Nitrogen tank and regulator should be used for these beers.
This is a pretty good article, except they get the math for figuring pressure wrong. When working with mixed gases, you have to use partial pressure for the individual gases, and absolute pressure for the mix. You then can convert the absolute pressure to a gauge pressure that you can set on your system.

Let's do an example: say you want to dispense beer at 40°F, and a carb level of 1.4 volumes. If using pure CO2, then the required gauge pressure is 0.38 psi. This works out to an absolute pressure of 14.7 psi (atmospheric pressure) + 0.38 psi (gauge pressure) = 15.08 psi absolute pressure. Since it is pure CO2, the CO2 partial pressure is also 15.08 psi.

When we switch to beer gas, we still need 15.08 psi CO2 partial pressure to maintain the carb level at 1.4 volumes. If the beer gas is 25% CO2 & 75% Nitrogen, then the total absolute pressure needs to be 15.08 psi / 0.25 = 60.3 psi. The required gauge pressure for the beer gas is then 60.3 - 14.7 = 45.6 psi.

Thus you need a low pressure gauge on your regulator that goes up to 50 - 60 psi. If you have a low pressure gauge that only goes to 30 psi, you can't use it with beer gas.

If we do the math according to the article linked in the quoted post, then 0.38 psi / 0.25 = 1.52 psi. If you actually did this, then the equilibrium carb level would only be 0.37 volumes.

I am attaching my CO2 and beer gas pressure calculator spreadsheet (in both LibreOffice and Excel formats.) Input cells are blue. Other cells are formulas, so don't mess them up.

Note that the spreadsheet allows you to input the local barometric pressure, so that you won't be undercarbed if you live in Denver. Use the real barometric pressure, not the local barometric pressure corrected to sea level (what you get in an aviation weather report.) If you don't have a barometer, just use the local standard pressure based on your elevation (look up the "Standard Atmosphere".)

Brew on :mug:
 

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camonick

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I was about to purchase a used nitrogen regulator from a member here, but was told by my LHBS that the local welding supply shop exchanges beer gas in CO2 cylinders. So I'd need to use a CO2 regulator.

I hadn't heard of this before. Anybody here using CO2 cylinders for beer gas?
Have you contacted the welding shop personally? I would verify in person what the valves look like on the beer gas cylinders myself rather than rely on a LHBS employee. What I think the LHBS might be referring to is the appearance of the cylinder only. My gas cylinders look identical at a glance, but have different valves for the appropriate gas inside.
CO2 on the left and 75/25 beer gas on the right. They both come from a local (to me) welding supply company.
6A0E89E6-8B72-4674-AD7B-EC58175FD5D5.jpeg
 
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Tom R

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It's possible he is mistaken.
But he has owned the shop for 27 years, and has a vast knowledge of homebrewing.
I'll certainly check with the welding shop before plunking down cash.
 

Quentin Nelson

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Some useful comments here, especially by Duncan Brown, Deadalus & doug293cz.
Also, here's my experience with getting & using Beer Gas in the NW for many years.
Use same regulator as CO2, CGA320 - that's fitting my local AirGas has on BEER GAS tanks.
75% Nitrogen 20% CO2 & that's the ratio Guinness recommends. 70/30 is probably fine.
No problem with your [email protected] regulator as long as high side gauge reads at least 3000 psi.
You won't get an exchange BEER GAS (or Nitrogen) tank that has higher pressure than that.
You can slowly carbonate your home brew with BG and it won't overcarb due to the ratio.
A Guinness commercial keg comes with 1.2 volume CO2. That's what keeps the fizz/taste.
Lots of different opinions on Guinness dispense pressure. But, yes - temp, line length etc matter.

The "Cascading" effect & latte colored pour is caused by HIGH pressure forcing liquid thru the five tiny holes in a special Guinness/Stout tap. (See pic) IF THE BEER HAS TOO MUCH CO2 IN THE KEG IT WILL FOAM LIKE CRAZY. *** BUT, here's an interesting fact. I've done this many times. ***

You CAN dispense a great Stout/Cascading/latte colored pour thru a Guinness tap with CO2 *** IF & THIS IS THE BIG IF:

You momentarily turn the CO2 pressure way up to 20-30 psi ONLY for the pour *** THEN IMMEDIATELY TURN IT BACK DOWN. If you forget, the beer will quickly over carbonate. BUT IT WORKS GREAT IF YOU REMEMBER!

Here's another favorite trick of mine. Use paintball tanks! Get PAINTBALL TANKS. (cheap on CL or even new) CO2 PB tanks are rated at 3000psi. Cheap, light, fit in the fridge, easy to take to a party. I use a High Pressure Air (HPA) 4500psi tank for Beer Gas. Pretty easy to make or buy a refill "station" to refill them from an upside-down CO2 tank (unless you have a tank with a syphon tube to the liquid gas on the bottom) And you'll never lose a whole tank of CO2 or Beer Gas overnight to a small leak.

Pic of Guinness tap parts - 2nd pic is title of great info you can download from Brewers Assoc
139.JPG
 

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day_trippr

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Parts do look identical to what's loaded into my Micromatic stout faucet - though my restrictor plate is shiny :)
Have run that faucet on beer gas for over a decade, still don't understand how the "flow straightener" actually works...

Cheers!
 

jcav

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I have the same Micromatic faucet. I also use Beer Gas from Air Gas and use a C02 regulator with an adapter to fit onto the 20 pound Beer Gas tank threads. Works great! I usually force carb the beers I put on Nitro at around 6 psi using C02. After that they are ready for the one Beer Gas tap I have in my kegerator. Always pours like a dream with a beautiful cascading head dispensing at 30 psi on the Beer Gas. It is a treat to have Nitro beers in my home and I absolutely love making beers especially to put on Nitro. I just got finished with a Scottish Heavy 70/- which was superb on nitro. Timothy Landlord before that, and I have a English Oat Nut Brown Ale that I have been tweaking, that is ready to go on tap later today!

John
 
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