Newbie keg questions

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nyer

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I'm starting my first batch of beer ever this weekend. I have a tap system and two empty half barrels. I would really like to use a keg instead of bottling 5 gallons of beer. I read the sticky on kegging and I'm starting to think it might be to much trouble to do for my first time. I have a brewing book that I will have to re-read and I swear it doesn't say anything in there about filling the keg with high pressure and then shaking it around. I think it says to add some sugar that was dissolved in hot water to the keg, then siphon in the beer and add the co2. Am I missing something here?
I'd really like to use the keg but I am willing to bottle if it's easier for a first timer.
 

old_townie

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Dude,
are your empty half barrels "sankeys" (ie traditional brewery kegs)?

It sounds like they are.

Most of us here keg into cornelius (soda) kegs.
 
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nyer

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They are regular old brewery kegs. I'm looking to get the cornies down the road.
 

malkore

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well, what 'brewing book' do you have? cuz I gotta tell ya, many of them aren't that great. if its Palmer's How to Brew, then its a winner.

it sounds like your book recommends priming the keg with sugar to carbonate, and then using a CO2 cylinder to dispense and maintain the carbonation. i'm not a fan of priming kegs. it fills the bottom with yeast, just like a bottle conditioned beer would have, which means your first couple of pints will be yeasty, and ANY disturbance of the keg (like taking it to a party) will rouse more yeast and produce more yeasty draws until it settles again.

the wiki you read was talking about RAPID force carbonation, which require shaking or rollin the keg around to increase gas exchange and thus speed carbonation, vs 14 days in the keg under 10psi for normal force carbing.
either method of force carbing is simple and doesn't increase the yeast count in your keg, meaning every draw is 'perfect'.

I can't help much with sanke kegs, as I've only used Cornelius kegs, which are 5 gallons, and perfect.

I think your keg is like 15.5gallons, which can work for a 5 gallon batch, but you'll use a lot of CO2 to purge the headspace and create the pressure needed for carbonation.


Don't get me wrong, you can use the sankey kegs, but you'll find most information pertains to corny kegs since they are more convenient for us.
 
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nyer

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I appreciate the info, I'm new to this whole thing and my head is spinning from all the info out there. I went to buy two carboys this morning and ended up buying 24 new 22oz. beer bottles from them for only $11. I'm just going to go ahead and bottle my first batch and worry about kegging down the road.
 

sirsloop

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Cornie kegs FTW. Bottle until you switch over to them. Sanke kegs are great for frat parties and bars, but I think you'll find the 5 gallon size is ideal for homebrew. You'll appreciate the keggerator much more after you have a few rounds of cleaning bottles under your belt ;)
 

abracadabra

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You can keg your first brew. I did it. You'll have 2-3 weeks of your brew being in the fermentor to get a kegging system together. Before you'll need to bottle. It's pretty simple really.

All the equipment is pretty overwhelming at first but you'll get over that quickly.

While I agree that cornie kegs are your best bet for kegging homebrew. I'd have to disagree that you need to bottle first to get an apreciation of kegging.

I intended to bottle my first brew but as I read up on kegging I realized I had plenty of time to get a system together before the brew was ready.

And if you do decide to keg you can keep your brew in the secondary for 4 weeks then transfer to the keg, pressurize it to 20 psi. put it in the fridge and it'll be ready in 5-7 days. Faster if you want to shake the keg.

Here's the thing even though you can force carbonate in a week the beer will need to age or condition for about 4 weeks. I use cornie kegs as secondaries and to condition my beer then just pressurize it and I'm done.

Bottling is a pain in the A$$ and having all that yeast sediment in the bottom of your bottles is a real trun off to many people.

Some of the advantages of kegging include having to clean and sanitize only 1 vessel. Not having to worry about bottle bombs because the beer hasn't finished fermenting. Not having to bother with adding sugar for carbonation.

I'd say if your budget can handle it, go for it. You'll be glad you did.

Best wishes and welcome to the hobby.:mug:
 
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nyer

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Is there a difference between a cornie and a bar type 1/6 keg? They look about the same size to me. I usually get the 1/6 kegs for my tap system and I am looking to buy a couple so I can eliminate the large kegs. I just noticed the cornies might be different. Why use them instead of 1/6 kegs?
 

malkore

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and it appears 1/6 kegs have a sankey style top. at least from the only image i can find on google for 1/6 keg.
 

Poindexter

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nyer, can you post a picture of your Sanke style kegs? Or measure height and diameter so someone could calculate volume and stuff??
 

WortMonger

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All kegs say how much they will hold etched into them. Sankes are great and all I use. Let me know if you have any questions I would be glad to answer them. Some info that might be helpful- a corny you have to seat with pressure to keep it sealed. With a sanke you don't, it is sealed the second you put in the ring and smash the o-ring down (you still want to purge the O2 out of the headspace, but it is sealed). A corny is easier to clean, but why not use a 1/6 barrel sanke (5.19 gallons) and clean with PBW or Oxyclean? I love the 1/6 bbl's (called sixtels) and have started collecting them every chance I get. They make 15.5, 7.25, 5.19, but I think the 15.5's and the 5.19's are the most usuable. I quit using cornies a long time ago, but to each his own.
 
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nyer

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I remember mine saying they hold a little over 15 gallons. I'm trying to locate either the 1/6 kegs or corneys. I'd rather use them, they fit in the fridge alot better than the large kegs I have. My friend owns a bar and most of his beer on tap comes in the 1/6 kegs, I'm trying to con him out of a couple.
 

WortMonger

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I get mine for $30 a pop. The distributor won't come and pick them up sometimes and they are always getting stolen, so a bartender friend puts them away and when the distributor says to keep them he sells them to me. I'm up to 6 now :D and two 1/2bbls too.
 

Bulls Beers

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malkore said:
well, what 'brewing book' do you have? cuz I gotta tell ya, many of them aren't that great. if its Palmer's How to Brew, then its a winner.

it sounds like your book recommends priming the keg with sugar to carbonate, and then using a CO2 cylinder to dispense and maintain the carbonation. i'm not a fan of priming kegs. it fills the bottom with yeast, just like a bottle conditioned beer would have, which means your first couple of pints will be yeasty, and ANY disturbance of the keg (like taking it to a party) will rouse more yeast and produce more yeasty draws until it settles again.

the wiki you read was talking about RAPID force carbonation, which require shaking or rollin the keg around to increase gas exchange and thus speed carbonation, vs 14 days in the keg under 10psi for normal force carbing.
either method of force carbing is simple and doesn't increase the yeast count in your keg, meaning every draw is 'perfect'.

I can't help much with sanke kegs, as I've only used Cornelius kegs, which are 5 gallons, and perfect.

I think your keg is like 15.5gallons, which can work for a 5 gallon batch, but you'll use a lot of CO2 to purge the headspace and create the pressure needed for carbonation.


Don't get me wrong, you can use the sankey kegs, but you'll find most information pertains to corny kegs since they are more convenient for us.
So you wouldn't recomend priming your keg? What's the difference between priming and normal force carb'ing for 10-14 days?
 

WortMonger

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Priming you add sugar to ferment a little more to carbonate, and force is exactly that you pressure up the keg with your CO2 bottle to carbonate.
 

WortMonger

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It is all relative. What are you going for? How does your system of brewing work out for you? Their are many ways to skin a cat and only two for carbonating kegs, lol. Either way you will end up with carbonated beer, the force carbing is just faster. Better doesn't come into the equation other than if it saves you time or makes a better product, neither of which apply to carbonation on the homebrew scale until you have mastered your basic brewing skills. A delicate lager might be the only way to taste what some talk about using CO2 to carb rather than natural, but like I said..... if you can't taste the difference then it is all relative. I taste no difference, but always naturally carb my beers because it is easier for me and takes no longer in my setup and schedule.
 

WortMonger

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Deffinitions:

Force carbonation- Introducing an outside source of CO2 (bottle of CO2) into a container (corny or other type of keg) holding your flat beer.

Natural carbonation- Adding sugar (priming) to a sealed container (keg/bottle/sealable pressurizable container) holding your flat beer (with yeast still present) and allowing further fermentation to carbonate your beer.
 

WortMonger

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Room temp I would say, but I don't have enough info to say for 100% Ale or lager? I would leave it to naturally carb at whatever temp you fermented at. 2 weeks is plenty of time to carb.
 

Bulls Beers

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Well, I kegged my first batch of beer and bottled another batch Apfelwein..Man, Bottling in much more of a pain in the ass than kegging..

Thanks for answering some of my questions in the last few days about kegging..
 

WortMonger

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No problem, kegging is a lot more expensive but figure in PITA and it makes it less expensive (aggravation inflation is like 3000% lol). Kegs give you a lot of freedom, but bottles still have their place so don't ever give away or through away your bottling stuff. Do you have a program like beersmith/promash/brewing spreadsheet that you can use to show you how much priming sugar or what volumes of CO2 pressure is required for a carbonation level? Those come in real handy when you keg and naturally carbonate or force carb.
 
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