Easy Kegs and Mini Kegs

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Earlier in the year, I decided I had enough of bottling and wanted to start kegging. I didn't have the money to start a kegerator or keezer build, so I started researching five liter kegs. I found the Brewferm Mini Keg starter pack with the posh picnic tap to be the one I wanted (two sites sold the same package, each with different tap set ups). Just my luck that the one I wanted was not in stock, so I had to play the patience game. I'd planned to take a keg camping with me but this wasn't going to be. So, I went to the supermarket and purchased an Easy Keg of something to everyone's liking. I found the use easy, and it didn't take too long to settle down after a three hour drive. My first thought was refilling it. After all, why let a perfectly good keg go to waste? So when I got home, I started researching.

The Easy Keg and the Mini Keg
There was plenty of information on the web, and everyone seemed to have a few useful snippets here and there, but I was still left scratching my head. I thought I'd put this article together, as it combines a lot of the information I gathered and a bit of my own, which I think makes things a bit easier.
The differences:
As from the pictures, it's easy to see the physical differences. The Easy Keg has a pressure relief valve and a tap at the bottom for dispensing. There's no additional equipment needed. You release the pressure and pour the beer using gravity. However this does introduce oxygen into your beer so the recommended time to drink is 3 days.

The Mini Keg
The Mini Keg is basically just a tin with a hole big enough for a bung in the top. If you don't have a tap with it, you can't get to your beer. The tap unit comes with a holder for a 16 gram CO2 bulb which allows for pressure adjustment, so you can get the pour you prefer. I've read that one bulb can last 3 kegs, however I have yet to see that and find I'm changing midway through the second keg.

The Mini Keg with tap set up
The unit comes in three pieces, not including the handle. The screw threads on the dip tube and spout are plastic so over tightening will damage the unit. Once together and pushed into keg, your beer is ready to serve. As you pour, the beer removed is replaced with CO2 so the keg will last longer.
Filling time!!
Filling both kegs is basically the same but the first issue we have is getting into the Easy Keg. The pressure relief valve was a bugger to remove, until now! I saw a video of someone going at it with a pair of pliers, people prying them out with knives. Don't bother trying with your fingers as you'll rip your nails off. The rubber grommet is made of a hardened rubber which helps it to hold its shape and keep a good air tight seal. This bung is made of three pieces: the rubber grommet and two pieces of plastic that make up the pressure relief valve.
To remove:
1. Pull hard on the plastic tab on the pressure relief valve so it comes away.
2. Using a blunt object of the right size, push down on the remaining part of the pressure relief so it falls into the keg.
3. Gently remove the bung.

Easy Keg bung removal
Simple and no damaged finger nails! You could spend ages trying to fish or shake the plastic part out of the keg, or you can fill it with cleaning solution and let it either float out (if you're lucky), or let it fall out when emptying the solution.
The Mini Keg is a bit simpler because the plastic stopper was pushed in when inserting the tap unit. Just gently remove the bung and its ready to clean.

Mini Keg bung removal
I'm not going to tell you how to clean and sanitize, as you all have your own methods. As I said, filling is basically the same. Mix your priming solution into the keg and siphon your beer on top. Fill to the top of the first ring from the top, leaving about an inch of headspace. The kegs can't take a lot of pressure, and will buckle if the pressure builds up too much. I've read fifteen grams of sugar is the max and I haven't tried more than this. Ten grams seems to be enough for the styles I've put in them. Put the bungs back together and rest the Mini Keg bung on top until I've finished filling everything else to allow the air to be pushed out. The Easy Keg can have the bung pushed fully home and just leave the pressure relief valve set on open for a while to do the same job. It may not be necessary, but it's something I do.
Patience as always!!
It's the worst part of brewing in my eyes: waiting those few weeks for the beer to condition. But it's always worth it!
Serving from the Easy Keg is the easier of the two; pull the tap out, pour a squirt of beer to release some of the pressure and open the pressure relief valve. There may be a small amount of foaming. Hopefully, the first squirt would have cleared the sediment so the beer is ready to go. If not, pull off a small amount and discard. Remember to close the pressure relief once you've finished drinking from it.

Serving from the Easy Keg (I'm not advertising here)
The Mini Keg has a bit more to it, as the tap unit needs to be cleaned and sanitized before the beer can be tapped. I also put a small bit of sanitizer on the bung as the plastic part in the center also comes in contact with the beer and will be for as long as you pour from the keg. I only have the dip tube connected at this point as it makes it easier to push. The idea is to put the dip tube on the center of the grommet and then push the dip tube in in one swift motion. I learned the hard way, or should I say the wet way, to do it this way as I once briefly paused during the push and beer came out of a small hole in the dip tube (red arrow) and went all over my shirt. I've read people using lube to make the motion easier, but the hole in the grommet is tight enough that it will remove the majority of the lube so I've not bothered. Other then a bit of resistance, I have had no issues getting the tap unit in.

Tapping the Mini keg
Once the tap is fully home and the latches on the tap are locked on to the keg, you're ready to go. Screw the spout in and push on the handle. Screw in the CO2 bulb and set the pressure. I slowly increase the pressure during the pour until I'm getting a good balance of beer pour and foam and leave it at that. Too much pressure makes for a great ice beer sundae! The handle takes a few pours to get used to, but once it's all right, it pours a great beer.

Serving from the Mini Keg
Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but I'll take one of those over bottling any time. I've seen some crazy setups with people hooking them up to CO2 bottles for force carbonating, but that seems a bit much in my eyes. They're great for taking around to a mate's, on camping trips and picnics, or just sitting in your fridge for your pleasure. The handles from the Easy Kegs fit the Mini Kegs making transport easy and you haven't got to worry about taking CO2 bottles and pipes for the larger corny keg setup. In my eyes, this is a great little piece for the homebrew set up.
This isn't a comprehensive be-all and end-all method so please share if you feel like I've missed something or want to add something of your own.
Thanks for reading and happy brewing!!
I use a similar system(Tap a Draft, which uses a plastic tap and PET bottles). I've had beer Natural Carb in my storage space for months and still be drinkable(and in the case of a Citra APA a couple years). After tapping and leaving it in the fridge, I've left it there for a few months while I drink it down. 1.5 gallons/5 Liters takes a while when it's just me. I have to worry more about my wife being annoyed it's in the fridge well before I have to worry about the beer going bad.
They are basicallly the same keg, and you can buy replacement bungs in either style (vented or with the plastic slug for a tap) so you can use the fancy co2 tap on either. There are also some directions for diy taps out on the internet.
Where/what type of dispensing tap unit is that? This is the first I've heard of these mini kegs and they seem really cool! Trying to price out what the investment may be.
those mini kegs are cool looking, but all the sets from brewferm seem to have 3 kegs with no extra kegs...that's only 15 liters instead of the 20-23 liters i generally do.
Great review Andrew!
Thanks for taking the time to write this up. Many of us are always looking at stuff like this and wondering if it's possible to modify.
Mark P.
I use easykegs regularly. They are really handy to take down to picnics in the park, bbqs, parties, etc. They've always been drunk in one sitting. When it comes to it it's like a one gallon bottle with gravity dispensation, so it's really easy to condition and carbonate (just make sure to use less sugar in proportion than when bottling).
This looks like a really neat way to do mini "cask" conditioned ales. The thing that is so cool about it is that it is only 5L - which is doable over 3-4 days. What a great way to serve up small batches. Maybe it's time to do a small stovetop BIAB and try this out. I think this would be a good way to try out Krausening out for the first time. Screwing up a 5L batch doesn't hurt as much as a 20L batch!
Keep in mind that these kegs are not stainless steel... and they are plastic lined. The plastic lining will only last a limited number of uses... maybe as few as 5!
Thanks for the review, I have been thinking of getting a set for a while now. Do you think the issue is that the original material is hazardous that after the plastic lining disintergates it's dangerous or is it a rust issue?
Found this at Target. Seems a bit pricey, but it will keep the easy keg cold on your counter top. No need to take up valuable fridge space.
Is there any way to make the Easy Keg last longer? Maybe some setup where we could hook up a small CO2 canister to the bung at the top so instead of O2 it's filling (to a desired pressure level to preserve carbonation) with CO2? I've got a bunch of friends who would love to stick a little keg of beer into their fridges, (okay, myself included until I can get the space and budget for a proper kegerator) and what you call Easy Kegs are readily available where I live (China), but longevity is a requirement since these would be pint-a-day situations, not kill-it-in-an-hour parties.
I wouldn't worry about them lasting. They only carry 8 pints. Any social situation like a dinner party or picnic kicks it.
A bit over ten pints, actually - they're five liters and a pint's a little less than half a liter. Yes, a social situation would kick one of these, but I'm looking at using these for more of an everyday life situation - pull a pint a day most days, kick it in a week and a half, maybe two.
A pint and pint glasses are 568ml, bit over half a litre. At least here!
Ah, imperial pints. A US pint is 473ml, and most US "pint" tumblers are a bit smaller than that in reality. Either way, I'm still hoping I can find out whether or not there's a way to keep these pressurized with CO2 for longevity.
Here it would be illegal to sell somebody a 500ml pint! Any undercutting is bad, so usually pints get filled above the 568ml mark (that's why pubs remove or pour the head away: foam doesn't count as beer). If you ever get underserved ask for a top up and they will have to comply.
Thanks for the article. It helps me as I decide about a Kickstarter for Pico Brew that makes 5L and their planned dispensing method is the 5L keg! Good the see some experience with this method of carbonating and dispensing prior to spending the money on backing the KS!
I keep a few of the gravity-fed types around. If I have a gallon or two of extra ale when filling kegs, I'll siphon it into these little fellers leaving no head space. In a couple of days I'm drinking authentic Real Ale while my corney kegs are carbonating.
My issue is draining the cleaning solution out. The top is not tapered to the hole and I can never get everything out. Does anyone have a secret method?
This size is really good. I use them time to time. You have to prime them a little less sugar. Maybe half the amount. Too much priming sugar causes heavy foam problems. I can dispense one keg per one CO2 canister.
There are drawback as well. Cleaning them is PITA. You have to dry them completely before storing. Some of my mini kegs developed bad, musty odour. The rubber bung and some rust spot can keep this odour really well. I have to dump some of the kegs (as well the beer in them) because of this, only after 2-3 uses. I rater don't store them in the basement now to prevent this. And if there is a bad smell I don't use them again. So they are usable, but far from perfect.
I have the edge star mini keg adapter that utilizes the mini CO2 cartridges. The problem that I'm having is that as soon as I open the valve, the CO2 escapes from the black screw on the back. Looks incomplete. Any photos of what this should look like would be great

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