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Kegging frustration...Carbonation and general setup

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thelastleroy

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I've been reading up on methods of carbonation and "balancing" one's corny keg setup. The problem I'm having is that my beer line is constantly full of foam, on 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and every pour.

My setup is this:

10lb CO2 cylinder, food grade CO2 from industrial gas supplier
Dual gauge Taprite regulator
Ubiquitous 5/16" red gas line
6 feet of 3/16" proper thick wall beverage tubing
Cobra picnic tap

My kegs are in the fridge at 34-37°f depending on the weather (garage fridge)
I have had my first keg on gas for 5 days at 9psi or better. Some days I have tried ramping up the pressure for a few hours, then bleeding down the head pressure to 9psi and adjusting the regulator to serve, but the same result always happens:

huge amount of foam/head on beer, an almost guiness-like cascade effect on the beer as the CO2 falls out of suspension in the glass, and a flat half-pint of quite flat beer left once the foam settles.

Something I noticed: there always seems to be gas in my beer line, not just beer. Is this normal? Does the CO2 come out of the beer while it's in the line and create these voids? Every pour has a big bubble of "air" space in it, which aggrivates an already foamy pour. When I open the tap, it pours slowly, then "POW" air bubble, then rocket-fast beer/foam combo until my glass is 3/4 full of foam. :(

I wonder if a perfect pour is desired it is necessary to use the "set and forget" method? It seems to me that I am opening up a volatile system that has not yet equalized in pressure, resulting in the foamy mess in my glass each afternoon.

My theory is this: A "Quick" carbed keg is not truly stable at serving pressure. The liquid is resistant to absorb gas, and simply requires time to do so completely. Once the beer has reached saturation at say 10psi, there should be no problem pouring it at 10psi. Any other mis-match in pressure (eg. beer carbonation level at 6psi, regulator/head pressure at 10psi) would cause too much instability between the head pressure and the actual carbonation pressure, which creates a turbulent pour, And lots of foam. Does this sound plausable?

I'm kind of bummed out because I spent a bunch on kegs to eliminate the hassle of bottling, but currently I can't pour one full pint. I'm actually drinking a bottle right now from an old batch and the carbonation is beautiful right to the last gulp......HELP!
 

Iseneye

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Two quick suggestions - mantra around here is to start with 10' of line, not 6'. Carbonation gets knocked out on shorter lines which is what you see with the foaming. Second is you are doing the set and forget method (which I use). You're probably about half way to carbonation at this point - I think it's 90% carbonated after two weeks and fully carbonated after three.

If you want rapid carbonation you do something like 30PSI for 24(?) somethingish hours and then release head pressure and set gauge to 10PSI. I've never done this but is mentioned a lot on here.
 
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thelastleroy

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Is the longer beer line conventional wisdom as opposed to calculated length? Every online calculator I have found so far says my beer line is adequate, if not too long. I will continue searching, and I'll try a longer line asap. Hopefully in a few days the keg will equalize and it won't matter! :mug:
 

bbohanon

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I usually set my psi at 11psi and leave it at 37deg for a week and I use 6ft picnic taps with no issue. The only time I have had foaming issues is if my fridge/freezer experiences temp swings which happened once when my compressor got too hot and tripped a breaker. Carbing at a lower temp and having it swing up 10deg will foam up a keg big time.

Try the longer lines and see if it helps..otherwise double check your temp variations in your fridge throughout a day(especially a hot summer day) with your fridge being in the garage.
 

Sammy86

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I work with 6' lines and don't have a problem. I've also used the set and forget method as well as the force carbonation method. 5 days IMO is not enough time at 9 PSI. I've had my Am. wheat on 12 PSI for seven days and it's almost there just not yet. So I would leave it for a few more days and let it get carbed up.

As for serving pressure you're going to have to lower it...I serve between 8 and 10 PSI and don't have any issues.
 

day_trippr

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Is the longer beer line conventional wisdom as opposed to calculated length? Every online calculator I have found so far says my beer line is adequate, if not too long. [...]
The problem you ran into is 99% of the purported calculators - whether in a book, program, web site - all use the same faulty assumption for tubing resistance. So the conventional wisdom would actually lead you to short line syndrome.

The only beer line length calculator worth using can be found here. It comes complete with an education :)

Bottom line: you'd do better with a foot of 3/16" ID beer line per psi of dispensing pressure.

And that dispensing pressure should be found on a carbonation table such as this one. For your 34-37°F, for a typical pale, IPA, 'Merrican Wheat, etc - middle of the road level carb - you'd want to set your regulator around 10psi.

So, ten feet of line.

As for how long it takes to carb a full corny of beer using the pressure found in the table: as already mentioned, it'll take a full two weeks to be good, and the better part of the third to be excellent. If it's a heavy FG brew (big ass stout) add at least another week, maybe more...

Cheers!
 

barnaclebob

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If there is gas in your beer line its from 1 of 4 causes. Your beer is moving too fast, it is actually carbonated too much for the pressure it is currently at, you have a constriction somewhere before your beer line causing foaming or you have a leak somewhere inside the keg above the level of the beer (less likely).

At this point I would first buy 12' of line and try that. You can always cut it down later. Or if you don't want to spend money yet, try the next option...

Shut off the CO2 and vent the keg a few times over a day or two. You can give it a few shakes after venting to help it along. This will allow you to know that the CO2 levels in the beer are below what it will be set at. Now put it back on the pressure at don't mess with it. You may have flat beer but it at least should pour ok at this point.

The last thing to do is give your poppet, post and ball lock fitting a good inspection to make sure that it has the full range of motion to allow beer in and out.

In the future you can speed carbonation by force carbing by hooking the room temp keg up at 30 PSI and rolling it around for 5 or 10 minutes. If you cold crash, then adjust the pressure down based on the carbonation tables.
 
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thelastleroy

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I think I've got this one cured:

I read all of your responses (thank you all, very kind!) and started checking over my system. When I poured a pint, I carefully watched the beer hose. I could actually HEAR some turbulence coming from the ball lock connection! I took the keg out of the fridge, depressurized it, and removed the ball-lock post. The o-ring that sits under the dip tube flare was all wacky. I straightened the o-ring out, cleaned/sanitized the dip tube (just in case a piece of random metal or trub or something had obstructed it) and reassembled the post.

I disassembled the cobra tap end and cleaned/sanitized it, as well as the ball lock connector. All seals were intact and okay, so i put them back together. Reconnect beer line/faucet to keg, apply 1psi gas and open the tap into an empty bottle until the foam and starsan residue had passed out of the hose. NOW the beer line is SOLID beer. No more fine bubbles circulating!!! I put the pressure back up to 10psi and now the pour is great!! The beer still needs a few days more to carb properly, but I'm convinced now that my foam problem was caused by head pressure bleeding into my beer line through the dip tube connection!

Now I need to brew another batch, because this one is half gone. I'm a little upset with myself for drinking all of that foamy flat beer, but sometimes these lessons must be learned the hard way! In other news, I put an APA on the gas tonight after rigging up a "tee" for the gas line. I'm going to wait a full 2 weeks on this one as "set and forget" method. Patience is not one of my virtues, but I'm learning!

Thanks again for all of your help guys!:mug:
 

Yooper

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I work with 6' lines and don't have a problem. I've also used the set and forget method as well as the force carbonation method. 5 days IMO is not enough time at 9 PSI. I've had my Am. wheat on 12 PSI for seven days and it's almost there just not yet. So I would leave it for a few more days and let it get carbed up.

As for serving pressure you're going to have to lower it...I serve between 8 and 10 PSI and don't have any issues.
I'm glad it works for you- but it's not "balanced" if you have to lower the pressure to serve.

I have 3 kegs on tap, but six in the kegerator at any given time. I can't even imagine trying to figure out what to do to drink a beer if I had to change the pressures in order to serve! I keep mine at 12 psi all the time for the vast majority of my beers. For the ones more highly carbed, the other regulator controls those.

If I had to turn down the pressure to 8 to serve, but then wanted a different beer from a different tap, but then had to turn them all back to 12 psi to keep the proper carb level, I'd quit kegging rather than trying to deal with this.

If the system is balanced, it stays right where you set it without turning it down to serve and then turning it back up to maintain carbonation.
 

fosaisu

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I'm glad it works for you- but it's not "balanced" if you have to lower the pressure to serve.

...

If the system is balanced, it stays right where you set it without turning it down to serve and then turning it back up to maintain carbonation.
Agreed! If you have to turn down the pressure to serve, that almost certainly means your beer hose is too short. Try a 10' or 12' length, you can always trim it down 6" at a time if it's pouring too slow. It's worth $3 not to have to fiddle with the pressure knob every time you want to pour a beer!
 

Sammy86

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I'm glad it works for you- but it's not "balanced" if you have to lower the pressure to serve.

If I had to turn down the pressure to 8 to serve, but then wanted a different beer from a different tap, but then had to turn them all back to 12 psi to keep the proper carb level, I'd quit kegging rather than trying to deal with this.

If the system is balanced, it stays right where you set it without turning it down to serve and then turning it back up to maintain carbonation.
According to that carbonation chart that's floating around with the temp that I hold my kegerator at plus the PSI I don't have to adjust the PSI for serving...can you really tell the difference in carbonation by .01-.04 volumes of CO2? If you can more power to you but for my palate the beer tastes good.

Not trying to pick a fight with @Yooper because you are the queen of homebrew and have more experience then I do just trying to let people know it's possible.
 

Yooper

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According to that carbonation chart that's floating around with the temp that I hold my kegerator at plus the PSI I don't have to adjust the PSI for serving...can you really tell the difference in carbonation by .01-.04 volumes of CO2? If you can more power to you but for my palate the beer tastes good.

Not trying to pick a fight with @Yooper because you are the queen of homebrew and have more experience then I do just trying to let people know it's possible.
Oh, no I don't think it's a carb difference at all. It would be with some time, but certainly not in a week or so.

I just mean that I wouldn't be able to turn mine down for one keg, back up for another keg, down for a second beer, back up for the next keg as I have room for 6 kegs inside my kegerator. That would be a huge pain for me.

The other thing I noticed when I have had to turn down the psi for one reason or another was that the beer tended to foam more until it equalized to the new pressure.

It's just easier to set my regulator to 12 psi, always. And not turn it up or down either way.
 

fosaisu

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It's just easier to set my regulator to 12 psi, always. And not turn it up or down either way.
Agreed again! Plus it's a little "low rent" to have to mess with the regulator every time you want a beer, when for a few bucks you can install an appropriate length of beer line and solve at least 90% of your foaming problems.
 

william_shakes_beer

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Am I correct in assuming that a flow control faucet like this:

http://www.perlick.com/bar-beverage...apping-hardwarecomponents/beer-faucets/650ss/

helps to reduce foaming by offering an a dispensing point adjustment to the friction resistance in the hoses

Looked at the carb chart. I plan to laminate a copy and tape it inside the freezer lid. Am I correct in assuming that the "handy dandy" chart assumes that carbonating pressure and serving pressure are the same?

Assuming the answer is yes, will the amount of time required to carbonate (reach equilibrium) be the same for all carb levels, or do say higher carb rates require more time in addition to more pressure? I'm firmly in the set and forget camp. Just put a 5 gallon batch on 10# of pressure at 42F. The chart tells me I will have 2.21 volumes of co2.
 

day_trippr

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Am I correct in assuming that a flow control faucet like this:

http://www.perlick.com/bar-beverage...apping-hardwarecomponents/beer-faucets/650ss/

helps to reduce foaming by offering an a dispensing point adjustment to the friction resistance in the hoses
That's the theory.

Looked at the carb chart. I plan to laminate a copy and tape it inside the freezer lid. Am I correct in assuming that the "handy dandy" chart assumes that carbonating pressure and serving pressure are the same?
Yup.

Assuming the answer is yes, will the amount of time required to carbonate (reach equilibrium) be the same for all carb levels, or do say higher carb rates require more time in addition to more pressure? I'm firmly in the set and forget camp.[...]
There's probably a theoretical answer that may contradict my observations, but from experience alone I'd say it's roughly the same...

Cheers!

[edit: changed contract to contradict. stoopid autocorrect...]
 

fosaisu

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Am I correct in assuming that a flow control faucet like this:
http://www.perlick.com/bar-beverage...apping-hardwarecomponents/beer-faucets/650ss/
helps to reduce foaming by offering an a dispensing point adjustment to the friction resistance in the hoses
I haven't tried the 630SS faucets so cannot comment from experience, but here's a thread where some people discuss successfully using them with shorter lengths of beer hose:
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=483561

If you're planning to buy new faucets anyway the extra incremental cost for the 650SS seems reasonable. Worst case scenario you'll find that the flow control doesn't work for you and you use them as you would the standard Perlick faucets (so long as you're not serving ciders, apparently). Regardless, glad to hear you're planning on using Perlicks, they're worth every penny over cheaper faucet designs.
 

doug293cz

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Assuming the answer is yes, will the amount of time required to carbonate (reach equilibrium) be the same for all carb levels, or do say higher carb rates require more time in addition to more pressure? I'm firmly in the set and forget camp. Just put a 5 gallon batch on 10# of pressure at 42F. The chart tells me I will have 2.21 volumes of co2.
There's probably a theoretical answer that may contradict my observations, but from experience alone I'd say it's roughly the same...
There is a theoretical answer, and it also says the amount of time is about the same.

Brew on :mug:
 
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