Is it me or my keg?

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MT2sum

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For the past 3 brews, I've ended up with flat beer! (and yes. I do drink my mistakes!). The first two kegs I tried force carbonating - followed instructions to the tee (the only difference is that I can't cold crash ahead of putting the primer in, it has to carb at room temps) - first from my LHBS, then from BYO's article on kegging (the set-and-wait method). Neither worked for me. So, this last time I tried carbonating in the keg. It was a kit I got from NB, and said to use 5 oz. of priming sugars. I used 5 oz of sugar, and it's just as flat at the others were. I've never had any carb problems when I bottled, I just wanted to save time and trouble with cleaning, filling, etc. by going to kegs. I have a question about this - should the amount of priming sugar be more if you're going to carbonate in the keg? I tried calling NB a couple of times, but got no answer, maybe they've had to close down for some reason - aren't LHBS's essential?? They are here in Tennessee, but NB is in Minnesota, I believe!

I'm just doing kits for now becuz we're staying in a little cabin so I brew in an electric turkey fryer. I'll go back to AG if I ever get moved back to Montana and our mobile.

I've got to figure this out before I do my next brew (an RIS), becuz that kit wasn't cheap like the three kits from NB. Any ideas? BTW, all of the seals on the keg are brand new, the keg holds pressure just fine (although I have no way of installing a pressure guage on the keg. I can apply 10 lb pressure to the keg, shut off the CO2 and guages completely, and it will serve beer for days w/o adding more pressure. I'm stumped!!
 

Nagorg

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Hmmm... Wish I had something to add. Something is off for sure. Even you being able to "serve beer for days w/o adding more pressure" after shutting off CO2 supply sounds fishy.

If you are essentially batch priming in the keg and have no leak but still get no carbonation, either you aren't waiting long enough (~3-4 weeks) or there's no residual yeast in the beer; or its dead for some reason.

What temperature and what psi and how long are you waiting for carbonation? I simply attach CO2 to the keg at ~13-14 psi in the keezer set to 38 degrees and its carbed good enough around ~10 days. But it does take about that long; I do not agitate my kegs.
 

okiedog

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I with Nagorg, it sounds like a yeast problem. Make sure you pick up some of the yeast slurry from the fermenter when you transfer to your keg. I keg at 14 days, prime with DME and a little yeast nutrient, wait 2 weeks, then chill. I've never had a problem except once, when I had a leaky keg. Force carbing at 12 psi/38F for 2 weeks works for me too. I hope you find a solution.
 

day_trippr

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[...] I can apply 10 lb pressure to the keg, shut off the CO2 and guages completely, and it will serve beer for days w/o adding more pressure. I'm stumped!!
Assuming this example involved beer that was already carbonated to your liking, it's not a reliable test wrt keg integrity, as the beer itself contains enough dissolved CO2 to help keep the keg pressurized to the point that the lid gasket may hold tight.

Otoh, when you "naturally carbonate" in a corny keg and start out with essentially no head space pressure, if the lid gasket (and everything else) isn't intrinsically gas-tight when the primer is added (just from the bail pressure on the lid) the evolving CO2 - at barely above its fractional atmospheric pressure - is going to leak out.

Anyway, aside from brews that test the yeast strain's alcohol tolerance, I don't see yeast just conking out when it comes to carbonation. So I would suspect a keg leak. I would try sticking a coin under each foot of the lid bail to add some extra compression, charge up the keg, and submerge the top in water-filled sink or bucket, and see if it's actually holding pressure, and fix anything that's bubbling...

Cheers!
 

wsmith1625

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I think you should try force carbing again. Transfer your beer to a cleaned and sanitized keg. Then seal it and purge the air from the tank. I usually set my co2 to 5lbs then connect it to the keg and pull the pressure relief valve a few times to push out the air. After the air is purged, disconnect the co2 and refrigerate your keg to your serving temp. This usually takes around 24hrs.

Once it's chilled, now you can set the regulator either to serving pressure using a carbonation chart, or set the regulator to 25-30lbs for 24hrs and burst carb. Burst carbing is the method I use. After burst carbing for 24hrs, disconnect the co2 from the keg and purge the co2 from the keg to drop the pressure. Now set the regulator to serving pressure using the chart and connect the co2 back to your keg. Wait 24hrs and pour your first beer. It may not be fully carbonated, but it should have bubbles and a head when you pour it.

If that doesn't work, your going to need to get some soapy water or StarSan and spray all your fittings to find the leak. If you don't find a leak, you probably have a bad regulator. You should know that already though when you turn on the co2. You will hear the gas as it fills the keg. If you don't hear that, you have a bad regulator or empty co2 tank.

Good luck and enjoy that carbonated homebrew when you get things worked out.
 

day_trippr

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If he's going to switch kegs now he'll never know he was dealing with a leaky keg.
Bank on it, that keg has a leak. Ask @doug293cz why I know that ;)

Cheers!
 

wsmith1625

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If he's going to switch kegs now he'll never know he was dealing with a leaky keg.
Bank on it, that keg has a leak. Ask @doug293cz why I know that ;)

Cheers!
I was just thinking about the next batch in the same keg, but you're right, he still has a keg of flat beer to fix. Put some pressure on it and find the leak. :cool:
 

Nagorg

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Any chance you might have recently started using campden? I use it (sparingly) in my strike and sparge water to help remove cholorimines. I've heard that some avoid it completely as to avoid a harsh environment for yeast. I've never had a problem with it though.

Its often used with cider to kill off yeast prior to back-sweetening.

Just a thought...
 

Nagorg

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I was just thinking about the next batch in the same keg, but you're right, he still has a keg of flat beer to fix. Put some pressure on it and find the leak. :cool:
Yes, a leak seems to be the most likely explanation. I didnt think of the possibility that the lid didnt have a good seal in the natural carb scenario as compared to forced carbed. (Good call @day_trippr) But the OP states that this problem happens even with forced carbonation...
 

Transamguy77

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If you fill the keg with water and pressurize it then lay it on it’s side and spray it with starsan then you can watch for bubbles. Are you leaving the keg hooked up the whole time? Because I would think you would empty the Co2 tank while it was carbing up. You could also try the shaking method and set the psi to 30 and shake for 15 mins and see how it carbs up, or leaks out.
 

balrog

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As @day_trippr suggests, when you carb-in-keg with priming sugar, you are starting with a low-to-no pressure on sealing gasket situation. I can heartily recommend putting in your prime sugar, sealing keg lid, and connect CO2 to 20psi to seal it, then disconnect and let the prime sugar and yeast do it's thing. Turn it upside down in sink/tub to watch for leaks, either bubbles, or beer now, is a really good idea also.
 

SFC Rudy

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I started priming in the Keg and only use half the priming sugar needed for bottling. Pressurize enough to seal gaskets and check pressure every other day or so, and wait two weeks.
 

DanB_cdnbev

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I sell Corni Kegs. here is what I have learned from experience and customer anecdote.
1.) They do get leaky. Pro tip - buy some food safe O-ring conditioning lube. It's the white, greasy stuff. Whenever you finish cleaning and sanitizing, condition your lid O-ring with just enough to make the whole seal shiny. If the Pressure Relief Valve[PRV] is the Screw-In kind, unscrew it, and inspect the seal. Ensure you rinse the seal, and the well. Sometimes sanitizer residues get into the spring and well-seal, because we forget to close the valve when we first start sanitizing. If the valve is opened, or not fully seated because the valve ring is hung up, when you put t back in the can, this residue might trickle into the beer. You may need a soft brush to get it all out of the spring. If there are hard deposits, DON'T YOU DARE USE A METAL BRUSH! Pre-soak the part in a vinegar solution. Condition the PRV's soft seal with lube, as well. Screw it back in, until it stops, and then a little extra. Don't Crank too hard: Hand tight, plus one funny face. Make sure that your Pressure relief valve ring isn't hung up, and is fully seated.
2.) When cleaning and sanitizing your keg, remember the cleaning portion. You have to get a hand or solvent inside the keg, to hit all the nooks and crannies in the underside of the top and around the tubes. You need to clean and rinse inside both tubes, as well. If you have a Corni wit removable tubes, all the easier, but often, when we put the Posts back on the can, we accidentally reverse them. This might be your issue. The way to tell the Gas[IN] Post from the Liquid[OUT] Post is that the gas Post will have little notches on the corners of the hexagonal wrenching surfaces. Some cans will allow you to put them on the wrong side, and then your connectors wont interact correctly. And again, condition the O-rings. If not removable, and yours are Press-Fit, I feel for you. Use a bendable brush to get around the tube base. Pro Tip: The most common issue in this regard, however, is that after we Sanitize, sometimes we forget that there is chemical in the Draw tube. You should Force-Rinse the tube, if you can, but if this is awkward, there is a method. After dumping the sanitizer, look into the keg. you will see the little well under the draw tube. Tilt your can away from that side, so the well is off the surface, opposite the corner you are still resting, to about a 30°-40° angle, and count to 5. This will allow the tube enough space to drain completely. If you rinse, post sanitizer[depending on the sanitizer], while full of rinse water, lay the can on its side, and rotate the tube well to the 10:30 or 1:30 position, and tap or jiggle to get the bubbles out of the tube. Then use the drain method again, after dumping.
3.) Have your most annoying friend with an applicable knowledge base, (The Sheldon Cooper in your life) come over and watch you do your thing. Tell them to silently observe and take notes, so they can critique at the end. Worst case is, you will be embarrassed by a rookie oversight. Best case is, you get to punch the person in the face for being a meanie. Maybe both. Win-Win!

You may thank me with your best Doppel, Tripel, Barleywine, or Porter. While I appreciate Sours, and the occasional Paint-Peeling APA, from the artistic prospective, I don't enjoy them. I prefer Balanced Complexity in the 6%-11% ABV Range. The person that can make something that is 7% and stronger, and is still balanced in flavor, that person is my hero. Plus, I don't trust a beer I can see through. It's like those people who like to live in homes that are more window than wall; people who seem to be hiding nothing are usually the ones who know where all the bodies are buried. Monks make hazy beers, so clear beer must be the work of The Devil. Keep well.
 
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MT2sum

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Thanks all, it will take me some time to digest all of these comments ..... I should have noted that these are pin-lock kegs, not ball-lock (I can only purge by using the gas-in). As far as bad gauges, I had bad gauges and bought new ones - I hope these aren't bad as well. I used lube on the seals, and when I clean, I remove tubes and all, as well as removing the seals and cleaning them too. The one comment I remember seeing was about length of time to allow it to carb - that may be the problem - I always let my bottled beer go 30 days, but the kit directions said 2 weeks. Next time I'll wait for the 30 days. I may have to go back to bottling, till i move home .... I've got no way to chill it while fermenting or while aging, especially now that we are getting some 80F days and our RAC can't keep the cabin any cooler than 72F. Might even have to wait till Fall/Winter to brew again. Either way, I do appreciate the advice, and thank you all for the posts.
MT2sum

Edited a couple of times for FFE's!
 
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okiedog

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MT2sum, 30 days will put a little age on your beer, and won't hurt anything if stored at room temp. I like to give my bottles 4 weeks, and sometimes I get busy and leave my kegs that long. Keg conditioning, however should not take more than 2 weeks. I try to put my kegged beer in the fridge after 2 weeks. The small amount of sugars required to condition/carbonate your keg at room temp., should be mostly consumed in 1 week, and completely consumed within 2 weeks. If you have sufficient healthy yeast in suspension (you should, even if it looks clear at kegging), then 2 weeks should be sufficient. I always add a little yeast nutrient to make sure the yeast has no trouble getting the job done. Except maybe for big beers and lagers, your beer is finished fermenting in 2 weeks, right? So why should keg conditioning take longer?
 

okiedog

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You could try Hot Head yeast for for warm ferments. I've had good results with it for American Amber, and a Stout. Norwegian and some Belgian strains work well at elevated temps.
 
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MT2sum

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I'll look up Hothead yeast, THX. These kits were cheapie 5.+%, so I figgered that the seller was intelligent enuff to know the timing for aging. Maybe, as someone said along the way, the yeast I used had died off, I use mostly Munton's Ale yeast which has always been good to me .... (I may be a cheapo, but I do want it to carbonate!!). I think I'll experiment a little bit on the RIS and add a few grains of yeast when I add the priming sugar. That might possibly be a part of the problem as well.
As I said above, I have no way to chill or cold crash, so I just drink it the way the Brits do, (my family has Scots roots from what I've been told) room temp until I can figure out a kegerator that can sit outside in the hot summers!! Keezer is probably out of the question!
 
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