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kenmc

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Hi there, just found this site today so hopefully someone can answer my questions.
I got myself a king keg microbrewery for Christmas and started my first brew on 1 March. It says to leave it for 21 days, so I did so but when I poured out the first glass it was full of white bits - I guess yeast - floating in the beer. Smelt nice though, and a little taste was ok. Left it there for another few days, and same thing happened next time I poured some beer. Also the keg seemed to run out of pressure to pump more than about a half a glass or so. Left it there more and looked at it there yesterday and the pressure was back a bit to get some beer out (it's a top tap so needs the pressure to pump it out) and there was less white floaters. Tasted a bit sharp though, but there was a few bubbles in it! But again the keg ran out of pumping pressure. I moved it closer to a radiator, cos I think that it's not warm enough where it is, i've not got a heat mat or anything yet.

Q1) Do you think that this brew still has a chance of succeeding????

Q2) In any case I am looking to get a refill pack for this. The 2 suppliers of homebrew stuff I can find in Ireland (I'm in Dublin) have several kits which stipulate that I do a fermentation first of all in a brew bucket and then transfer to the keg. but I don't have a brew bucket and don't particularly want more stuff lying around, and was wondering if I can do the whole thing in the keg, or is it going to explode????

Thanks in advance for any hints and tips you can provide!
Cheers
Kenmc
 

Janx

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Hey there and welcome to the forum!

kenmc said:
Q1) Do you think that this brew still has a chance of succeeding????
I'm not sure what that kit is trying to accomplish...how is it supposed to pour if it needs pressure? Does it accept CO2 cartriges or something? Sounds like a strange setup. You'll never be able to pour your beer without adding pressure in one way or another.

kenmc said:
Q2) In any case I am looking to get a refill pack for this. The 2 suppliers of homebrew stuff I can find in Ireland (I'm in Dublin) have several kits which stipulate that I do a fermentation first of all in a brew bucket and then transfer to the keg. but I don't have a brew bucket and don't particularly want more stuff lying around, and was wondering if I can do the whole thing in the keg, or is it going to explode????
Here's the thing. You get out of homebrewing what you put into it. These kits that purport to make everything so easy may make it easy, but, as you have seen, the results leave quite a bit to be desired. If you really don't want to buy some equipment and step it up a notch, then I'd assume you'll continue to get similar results. I wonder why you want a refill of this kit when it doesn't seem to have worked out (through no fault of your own).

Fermenting and serving in one single container will never make very good beer. You need to transfer the beer off of the yeast cake in the primary fermenter to get good clean flavor.

Also, if you want to keg, you should get some cornelius kegs and carbonate and push the beer properly with a CO2 tank. The lower cost alternative is to bottle. It sounds like your kit is trying to naturally carbonate the beer in the keg and then use that pressure to serve. That won't work any better than a cask beer can be poured without a beer engine. You'll pour a beer, that will relieve the pressure in your keg, and it won't pour any more. Also, the beer will then go flat. Not my idea of a good time, but YMMV.

You'll have much better results is you do some reading and buy a few basic pieces of equipment: a bucket for primary fermentation, a glass carboy for secondary, a bottle capper (and some bottles), a racking cane. Then get yourself some ingredients...not a kit...just find a recipe that sounds good and buy the malt extract, hops and yeast it calls for. People here can help you out with a recipe.

You'll really be able to make some good beer if you take these steps. If you want to stick with the easy kit stuff, I think you'll continue to get the same frustrating results. Kits seem almost universally a bad idea to me. They try to oversimplify something that is inherently a bit complex. It's not rocket science, but you can't brew and more importantly serve good beer the way that kit describes.
 
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kenmc

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Janx said:
Hey there and welcome to the forum!
Thanks, and thanks for the swift reply!

I'm not sure what that kit is trying to accomplish...how is it supposed to pour if it needs pressure? Does it accept CO2 cartriges or something? Sounds like a strange setup. You'll never be able to pour your beer without adding pressure in one way or another.
Yeah I can attach Co2 cylinder to it all right, and a little one came with it, but in the instructions it said that I would only need to do so about half way into the beer, when the pressure in the keg had gone down

Here's the thing. You get out of homebrewing what you put into it. These kits that purport to make everything so easy may make it easy, but, as you have seen, the results leave quite a bit to be desired. If you really don't want to buy some equipment and step it up a notch, then I'd assume you'll continue to get similar results. I wonder why you want a refill of this kit when it doesn't seem to have worked out (through no fault of your own).
I am not looking for a kit exactly the same as this, but one which I can use the keg setup I have already, as unfortunately I don't have a lot of space in which to have lots of barrels and buckets etc. I see plenty of kits which you just add sugar and water to them (mine I just added water - the yeast was in the kit along with 2 big cans of gloop - no mention of sugar), but they state in their instructions that you have to a first fermenatation in a bucket and then secondary ferment in a keg or bottles. I was just wondering what the difference between that kit, and the kit that came with my keg is that made my kit do it all in the one barrel?
Fermenting and serving in one single container will never make very good beer. You need to transfer the beer off of the yeast cake in the primary fermenter to get good clean flavor.

Also, if you want to keg, you should get some cornelius kegs and carbonate and push the beer properly with a CO2 tank. The lower cost alternative is to bottle. It sounds like your kit is trying to naturally carbonate the beer in the keg and then use that pressure to serve. That won't work any better than a cask beer can be poured without a beer engine. You'll pour a beer, that will relieve the pressure in your keg, and it won't pour any more. Also, the beer will then go flat. Not my idea of a good time, but YMMV.

You'll have much better results is you do some reading and buy a few basic pieces of equipment: a bucket for primary fermentation, a glass carboy for secondary, a bottle capper (and some bottles), a racking cane. Then get yourself some ingredients...not a kit...just find a recipe that sounds good and buy the malt extract, hops and yeast it calls for. People here can help you out with a recipe.
Maybe easier said than done though cos I don't think there's any actual brick-n-mortar home brew shops in Ireland - least not that I can find, so there's nowhere really to get the ingredients, other than a few that you can get these just-add-sugar-and-water jobbies....

You'll really be able to make some good beer if you take these steps. If you want to stick with the easy kit stuff, I think you'll continue to get the same frustrating results. Kits seem almost universally a bad idea to me. They try to oversimplify something that is inherently a bit complex. It's not rocket science, but you can't brew and more importantly serve good beer the way that kit describes.
I *would* like to move up a notch in the future, but at the moment I'm more or less stuck with the simpler approach :(
 

Rhoobarb

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What you have looks a lot like the 'Mr. Beer' kits and their ilk that department stores sell here in the States at Christmas time, only to be sold by their owners in garage sales the following Summer! Click here to take a look. I especially like the woman opening the spigot so her 'man' can guzzle like a member of the Delta House! :p

But, at least you dipped your toe into the brewing waters, and that's a good thing. I concur with everything Janx has stated. I'd also take the time to look at John Palmer's online version of his book, How To Brew. Lot's of good information and, best of all, it's free! :D

As for suppliers, unfortunately, you may be relegated to mail order. Here's a few places I found that may be of interest:

http://www.beersmugglers.com/lmd/store.asp?S=1&ID=Beer
http://www.art-of-brewing.co.uk/
http://www.charbrew.co.uk/
 

Janx

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Well, that's good that you can hook CO2 to it. It makes a lot more sense to me now :)

You'll need to hook CO2 to it immediately. There's not enough pressure in there to pour more than a beer or two as you have seen. If you have CO2 replacing the beer you pour, it'll work great.

The difference between a kit that wants you to ferment in one bucket and rack to the keg vs one that ferments and serves in the same vessel is just trying to have better flavor by transferring the beer off the yeast. It will also keep so much yeast out of your keg so you don't get the white floaties. As long as you can vent your keg while the beer is fermenting (so the CO2 can escape), then you can ferment these other kits in your keg, too. Does it have an airlock on it or something? I assume it must be vented since you did this first batch no problems.

As far as suppliers...I don't know how expensive it would be to ship over the pond, but there are lots of great online suppliers here in the states. I mail order most of my supplies.

Cheers and good luck! :D
 
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kenmc

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Janx said:
You'll need to hook CO2 to it immediately. There's not enough pressure in there to pour more than a beer or two as you have seen. If you have CO2 replacing the beer you pour, it'll work great.
OK so I'll do it now and see what happens
As long as you can vent your keg while the beer is fermenting (so the CO2 can escape), then you can ferment these other kits in your keg, too. Does it have an airlock on it or something? I assume it must be vented since you did this first batch no problems.
I dunno - see i think that the CO2 was *supposed* to remain in the keg to pump the beer out! and then when it runs down I would up the CO2 a bit to get the rest out. Surely I would have smelt it if it was venting out CO2????

As far as suppliers...I don't know how expensive it would be to ship over the pond, but there are lots of great online suppliers here in the states. I mail order most of my supplies.
Cheers and good luck! :D
Thanks, but see sterling is pretty crap to euro these days and the weights involved make shipping quite expensive also. I have beersmugglers.com and grapengraindublin.com as the 2 based in Ireland so shipping from there is fine.
Cheers
Ken
 
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kenmc

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Hmmm.
got another half glass out, and it tasted really nice, but when I tried adding the CO2 to the keg it seemed to leak out :( GRRRRRR Now I'll have to wait until monday or tuesday to get more by mail order damn damn damn... still i suppose I can get a half a glass a day. the beer tastes really nice though if thats any consilation. Is there anyway to up the amount of CO2 it produces in there? I guess opening the keg is a bad idea yeah?
 
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kenmc

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Janx said:
Now that would be a good kit ;)

That looks pretty much like every night at my house...what a great wife I have :D
Thats exactly the kit I have. it doesn't come with her though, but I already had one in the house anyway :)
 
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kenmc

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Ok - another question. I'm ordring some CO2 and while I'm at it i may as well get some other bits n pieces cos the shipping price is the same. So I'm gonna get the following
Wideneck Fementer - 5 Gallon, with Airlock Cap for Wine & Beer
how would I get the beer from there into my keg then? ( I don't wanna go to the hassle of bottling if I have a keg which will do the job...) I guess a syphon of some sort? if you could have a look at www.beersmugglers.com and tell me what there is a syphon cos I can only see a "vinsyphon - complete with tap" and there's no picture - would that be it? What else do you think I might need to get to work with this beer kit:http://www.beersmugglers.com/lmd/product.asp?P=GS0073&ID=Tower+Irish+Ale+Kit&S=1&A=1
Thanks again!
 

Janx

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You're not understanding how CO2 is produced in conjunction with fermentation and how it is used to push beer. Here's the gist:

When the beer is fermenting, you need to allow the CO2 produced to escape. It really produces a LOT of CO2. You can't contain it all, and you wouldn't want to. It would not help with your serving problem as I'll explain in a minute.

What you want to do it allow it to ferment with the CO2 able to freely escape...I would think that the barrel would have an airlock or something on it, but maybe it just has a vent that you can open or close?

Once the beer has fermented completely, you would add just the right amount of sugar and seal the keg. The yeast would ferment just enough more to properly carbonate the beer. At this point the barrel must be sealed to contain the CO2...it doesn't sound like yours is sealed.

Then you hook up a CO2 cartridge to it. That way, when you pour a beer, the space is replaced by CO2. That's just physics. Something has to replace the beer in the fermenter or it won't pour. Additionally, keeping the keg under pressure will keep the CO2 dissolved in the beer so it doesn't go flat. Again, it's physics...no arguing with it ;)

Now you can't store up a "battery" of lots and lots of CO2 to push your beer with, which is what you seem to want to do. If you seal your fermenter during the fermentation, it will explode from pressure. At the very least, it will be hugely foamy and overcarbonated. There is a proper amount of CO2 to properly carbonate the beer which is why you add a measured amount of sugar after the initial fermentation. But it just won't work to store up a ton of CO2 in your fermenter and expect it to gently pour perfectly carbonated beers. If the pressure in the keg is too high, then more CO2 dissolves in solution and the beer gets overcarbonated and foamy. And beer will come out like a rocket, foam up and then go flat in the glass. You need to carbonate the beer properly and then push it with the right amount of pressure so that the first glass and the last glass pour the same...perfectly.

This is just the way beer is served. It *has* to be pushed by gas to replace the space removed in the form of beer. A keg of beer can never pour itself with just its internal pressure. The kit is very misleading if it implies otherwise.

Let me know if you have any questions. I hope that helps clear up the issue a bit more.
 

Janx

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kenmc said:
Ok - another question. I'm ordring some CO2 and while I'm at it i may as well get some other bits n pieces cos the shipping price is the same. So I'm gonna get the following
Wideneck Fementer - 5 Gallon, with Airlock Cap for Wine & Beer
how would I get the beer from there into my keg then? ( I don't wanna go to the hassle of bottling if I have a keg which will do the job...) I guess a syphon of some sort? if you could have a look at www.beersmugglers.com and tell me what there is a syphon cos I can only see a "vinsyphon - complete with tap" and there's no picture - would that be it? What else do you think I might need to get to work with this beer kit:http://www.beersmugglers.com/lmd/product.asp?P=GS0073&ID=Tower+Irish+Ale+Kit&S=1&A=1
Thanks again!
The fermenter is a great idea. Remember, though, your keg will only work if it is indeed airtight...you need to make sure of that before you rely on it.

They really need pictures on that site. What you need for transfer is just some vinyl hose and a racking cane, which is just a rigid piece of plastic with a bend in it. That's to keep the siphon inlet at the bottom of your fermenter.

I *really* can' believe they don't tell you to boil the wort and to add sugar. You're really lucky if you get beer out of that at all...I bet more than half the time you get an infection. You should really do some reading up on extract brewing on this board and elsewhere. You'll enjoy knowing a bit more aout how to do it right and your results will be worlds better.
 
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kenmc

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Janx said:
The fermenter is a great idea. Remember, though, your keg will only work if it is indeed airtight...you need to make sure of that before you rely on it.
Well given that it pours *some* beer out then there has to be some pressure, build up, so I reckon it's airtight ok.
They really need pictures on that site. What you need for transfer is just some vinyl hose and a racking cane, which is just a rigid piece of plastic with a bend in it. That's to keep the siphon inlet at the bottom of your fermenter.
i'll get that vinsyphon then so, it's only a couple of euro - it's the only thing that it could be i guess, and they do pretty much everything else...
I *really* can' believe they don't tell you to boil the wort and to add sugar. You're really lucky if you get beer out of that at all...I bet more than half the time you get an infection. You should really do some reading up on extract brewing on this board and elsewhere. You'll enjoy knowing a bit more aout how to do it right and your results will be worlds better.
Do I boil the extract in a pot, or in boiling water but still in the cans?? i.e. direct vs indirect heating???
 

Janx

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Seriously...do a bit of reading and you'll be able to answer these basic questions no problem...

You boil in a pot...go read up on it. You also want to add hops...

But seriosuly, it's time to go read up on the basics, my friend :)
 

80/-

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Hi KenMc !

Hopefully you got the keg working.

I'm just starting out on the brewing thing as well and I'm also only brewing from extract kits. I think they may have very different types of kits in the states, hence the many recommendations for boiling the extract from the tins when it quite specifically says on them that no boiling is required.

I've never boiled any extract and the beers I've made have turned out pretty good. I have used mainly Muntons extracts - slightly more expensive, but with an excellent reputation on this side of the Atlantic. The best I've made has been an excellent IPA - plenty of hops and a great taste - purely by following the instructions on the pack and using dried malt extract instead of sugar.

Hope this helps and good luck with the next batch !

80/-
 
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kenmc

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ok well remember I said that the keg was airtight..... wasn't. turns out the valve (like this
) is a 2 way CO2 in/pressure release valve - the black rubber at the bottom covers a hole to let CO2 in, and the brown rubber under the threads allows excess CO2 to escape. Cept for some reason my black rubber wasn't properly fitted. I discovered this after I purchased a new valve and replacement rubbers for it when I discovered that the CO2 I was adding was coming straight back out again.
So what I have now is 3x2 litre (coke) bottles which i primed with some sugar, and I've pressurised the keg with CO2. Tastes better now that it's not flat :). Also the bottles are pressurising nicely too, so the secondary ferment is working which is nice to know.
Think I'm starting to get the hang of this now :)
Thanks for the advice lads
Ken
 

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Nice to hear that you've got your problem sorted out...

I got one of those microbrewery kit type things for christmas too. It had some 'woodforde's wherry' (I think) syrup with it. The brew came out pretty well (tasted ok) but was cloudy. I discovered when I took the barrel to bits to clean it, that this was because the outlet pipe float had come off, so the tap was sunk in the gunk at the bottom of the tank.

If anything, I had the opposite problem with pressure, the barrel was pressurised fully throughout the drinking process, right down to the dregs, and I got very foamy pints.

Since then, I've bought a fermenting barrel and airlock and this has worked pretty well. I did another brew in this and then straight into bottles. I think that I used a little too much sugar in the bottles as some of them were a little 'lively', but it was fairly clear and most people that had a bottle wanted a second bottle.

Got some IPA fermenting at the moment and I'll be using less sugar when I bottle that.
 
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kenmc

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Yeah mine was woodfordes wherry too i think - nice tasting stuff, not sure of the alcoholic qualities of it yet though - 4 pints last nite no hangover this morning. having a good session tonite to see how it goes! :)
I too bought a fermenting barrell and airlock and have an ale and lager kit to make up when the current one is finished. Might stay with the keg for the moment cos it's nice having it on tap beside me as I watch the TV! ;)
I have a couple of crates of bottles saved up though so I can easily do that - just have to get a capper and caps now! bit scared of them exploding though.
 

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KenMc -- I bought some large plastic stackable crates (with lids) and put all my bottles in that once they were filled and conditioning. I figured that if I did get a bottle bomb the crate would contain the mess and glass. Thankfully it wasn't put to the test.

The Keg was alright, but I live in a small flat and really don't have warm places and cool places to store all my beer, so I like bottling it and putting a few bottles in the fridge.

Also, I didn't like the pressure keg 'cos I couldn't see what's going on. I find the bubbling airlock much more satisfying :D

I'm thinking of modding the pressure tank to take some kind of airlock and then using it as a second primary fermenter, while leaving the option to have a keg of beer later on.
 
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kenmc

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you can buy spare king leg lids- turn one of them into an airlock and keep one for pressure! Yeah at the moment the few bottles that I have are in my fermenting bin with the lid on it just in case they explode - the girlf wouldn't be too happy with the mess they'd make otherwise!
K
 
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