newbie in need of some advice

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Feb 24, 2005
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Las Cruces, NM
I have been brewing my own for a couple of months now, and already I have grown weary of filling those horrid little bottles. I have decided to raise the ante and move on to kegs. Here is where the need for advice from some old pros would help me out greatly. I have found a kegging system for really cheap, and also they have extremely cheap cornelius kegs ($13 per keg).

The only hesitation I have with purchasing this setup is that it comes with only a single gauge regulator. As I understand it, the second gauge only tells the pressure in the CO2 tank, so I'm not seeing a great disadvantage here, but if I am wrong please feel free to yell at me like a drunken banshee to cure my bouts of misinformation. The kit also comes with only a picnic tap, but I don't have a personal problem with that because I have no room for a kegerator and am thinking of going to kegs just to save myself from the bottling routine. I have been told by my local HBS that force carbonating stops the aging process of the beer, and because of that have decided not to force carbonate as I like the beer more after it has had a chance to mellow. Again, if I am misinformed start flaming.

Any help from any of you would be greatly appreciated as it seems you have a much better handle on this process than most of the people I have access to on a personal basis. Thank you in advance to anyone who provides advice.
That's nonsense about it stopping aging. It's crazy what HBS shop owners tell people. Your beer will definitely continue to age and mellow in the keg after carbonation.

You'll love kegging! It's so much easier and more convenient.

Single guage reg isn't too big a deal, but it's kind of a pain to run out of gas when a bunch of people are coming over for a party. Best bet in any event is to get a small (like 5 pound) backup bottle of CO2.

As far as serving with a picnic tap, are you thinking of serving by just sticking it in ice? I'll tell you, that's the biggest hole I see in your plan. Having a kegging system without a fridge really isn't all that doable. You need to chill the beer to carbonate it, and then hold it cold for several days minimum. You'll go through a lot of ice doing that, if it's even possible to get it cold enough throughout. In other words, the beer needs to be cold for a lot longer than just when it's being dispensed if you want it to be carbonated.

In college, I had one of those mini fridges and butchered up the door so it would hold two kegs. That worked great. Maybe you could get one of those.

I totally encourage you to move to kegging, but IMO, a fridge of some sort is an essential part of the plan..
I understand that one must keep the keg cold for an extended period when choosing to force carbonate. However, is it possible to prime the kegs as you would bottles, and then allow the keg to self-carbonate over a period of weeks? The reason I ask this is because I am working on my MBA and living in an apartment without an extravagant amount of space or money to work with.
Thanks for the info thus far.
Gotcha. Yes, you can naturally carbonate kegs. Other than the additional wait, it's pretty much just as convenient. The biggest thing is to make sure the keg lid is properly sealed...those corny lids can be finicky, and there can be a small leak which will keep it from getting carbonated. Also, you need to make sure to keep gas pressure on it whenever you're dispensing so it stays carbonated.

There will be a little yeast at the bottom of course, but it all comes out in the first pour.

Are you thinking of going with those disposable CO2 cartridges?
I am not really planning on using the CO2 cartridges. It seems advantageous to go ahead and get the CO2 cannister (5lb for now) because it can later be integrated into a kegerator when the time comes. This afternoon I have been trying to track down an old fridge that I can get hold of for fairly cheap (dorm size if possible). It may wind up that I rethink my whole process if I can find a fridge small enough to fit within the limited space available.

Also, a buddy of mine is considering transforming an old chest freezer he has into a kegerator of sorts. He thinks that by turning the freezer to its highest temperature setting it will work essentially the same as using a fridge on its lowest temperature setting. Are there any flaws to doing this, and has anyone out there done this who can lend some expertise in how to transform the freezer.

You can definitely use a chest freezer. It's pretty cool because it has some serious capacity. I'm keeping my eye out for one also.

You may have to add on a different temperature controller if the one on the freezer isn't in the range needed, but that's no biggie. Good luck! :D
If you need any help with converting the dorm fridge, let me know. I don't have any fancy write-ups or anything but I converted a small whirlpool fridge into a draft tower set up. Draft towers can be pricey but I found one from beverage factory which is ABS plastic for 50 bucks. Ebay is always an option too. I can fit 2 kegs into the fridge. I drilled two holes in it, one for the CO2 line (my CO2 tank is a 15lb'er) and one for the tower.
I'm anal about doing the homework before a project so I can shoot links and add input to your project if you need it. My complete keg setup cost me about 280 dollars--that's everything, fridge, keg, CO2 tank, tower, hoses/fittings, etc.

BTW, myndphaser and Sam, thanks for posting/sending that link....I just ordered 2 corny kegs from them. Considering WITH shipping from that place, it was the same price as buying 1 stinking corny from my HBS. Unreal.
Glad I could be of some assistance. I had noticed people having trouble finding kegs at a decent price and ran across that link in my searches. I think I will order my system with two extra kegs tomorrow. The search continues for a fridge, but I think that will be the next step.

Thanks for the help Janx
You are most welcome, sir.

Thanks for the line on kegs. I got some too. They're pretty much the same price as the cheapest deal at morebeer, but they told me they don't have soda in them, while morebeer's kegs may have residue. That's a big plus. Root beer will NEVER come out of anything. Never ever buy a keg that had root beer in it.

Cheers! :D
Janx said:
The biggest thing is to make sure the keg lid is properly sealed...those corny lids can be finicky, and there can be a small leak which will keep it from getting carbonated.

A buddy of mine has been kegging in those corny kegs for a few years now and he mentioned the same thing. He said the trick that he uses to make sure that the lid is on tight is to give it a blast of CO2 real quick after he puts the beer in. If he hears gas, something isn't on right. He also stated that it helps to "set" the o-ring. I'm not really speaking from experience yet, as I need to get a CO2 tank and I'll be ready for kegging.
Your buddy is totally right. We always force carbonate, so we blast it with CO2 anyway. But many times, you'll catch a leak that way. And we have some kegs that won't seal unless you pull up on the lid while blasting in CO2. That seats the seal, as your buddy describes, and they hold fine after that.
I will definately keep that in mind as I will keg my next batch of beer that comes off the line.