to keg.... or not to keg...

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Woody

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hi everyone.

i'm a very new brewer only on my fifth batch, but already i'm beginning to get tired of bottling. such a monotonous job, and storing all the bottles while they are conditioning is also proving to be a less than enjoyable task.

so my question is how soon did all you keggers make the switch from bottling your brew to kegging?

also did you go the convenient route and buy a ready made kegerator, or were you creative and built your own masterpiece?

cheers

Woody
 

MoRoToRiUm

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I skipped bottling and went straight to kegging (scored three free cornies and two C)2 tanks with regs).

Definitely DIY; Cheaper, unless you score a prefab kegerator on CL cheap. I am happy with mine, even though it looks like many of the sanyo conversions, this one is mine.
 

adamjab19

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Yeah besides the fridge and depending on how big of a CO2 tank you get kegging can be very cost effective and space saving.
 

kornkob

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Having a kegging system is durned handy.

My spare kegs are stored clean and sanitized and under pressure--- ready for use when the beer is done. That means I can do a big 'sanitize the kegs day' once in a while instead of having to do it the day of.

And if I run out of homebrew that is ready I can get a quarter barrel of something from New Glarus Brewery (Fat Squirrel is my favorite) and drop that in the kegerator for a party or to tide me over till the next batch comes up.
 

TwoHeadsBrewing

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I did about 10 batches before I started kegging...and I can sympathize with you about bottling. It is indeed a monotonous task, but I kind of got into a rythm doing it after a while. But like you say, storing and conditioning was an issue for me...beer was EVERYWHERE! I started with a simple 2 keg mini-fridge and 10# tank with picnic taps. Pretty low-budget, I think the whole setup was around $180. Later I picked up a fridge on CL for cheap and found a guy selling 5 corny kegs there for 40 bucks :D! Over the past few months I added shanks and taps to the fridge door and added another couple kegs for a total of 7. I have to say, kegging is the way to go! Being able to just walk out to the garage and pour a pint is wonderful, and being able to have multiple beers on tap is very cool.
 

david_42

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I started with the 5L kegs and switched to cornies after the 5th batch or so. Once in a while, I'll bottle a few beers; but I doubt I've done 50 bottles total.
 

Mutilated1

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so my question is how soon did all you keggers make the switch from bottling your brew to kegging?
Not nearly soon enough. Seriously, you've got to go ahead and start kegging. Bottles are a complete pain in the ass, if it weren't for kegging I would just give up and buy beer from the store - bottling takes all the fun out of it.

Plus, you can't imagine how cool it is to have a few different beers on tap.
 

kornkob

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I'm the son of a son of a son of a homebrewer (and it might go all the way back to the old country but I can't ask those folks) so I bottled beer as a child (my first beer was a stout my father made). However I'm the first to keg which I did after the first time I bottled by myself.

And, if you find yourself with more kegs than beer, you can always use spares to store grain. : )
 

Rhoobarb

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It took me ten whole years before I began kegging. If I'd only known how easy it was!:( I was just intimidated by the whole process, so I always put it off.

I built my own Keezer from a Craig's List find.
 

mikeyc

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I just kegged my first batch. I wish I would have started kegging a long time ago. If you are thinking about it, I suggest do it. There is alot of great information on this site, and on the web in general. Here are the web sites I ordered my equipment from.

Standard Homebrew Kegerator Conversion Kit | BeverageFactory.com

KegConnection.com Home Page

Besides the fact that having your own beer on draft is pretty f'ing cool :rockin:. If you have people over, putting glasses in the dish washer, is by far better than cleaning up empty beer bottles all over the place.
 

bdnoona

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I started kegging on my second batch. Best decision ever. Bottling sucks. Collecting them, storing them, cleaning them, conditioning them, etc. Kegs are faster and easier. Plus like others have said, multiple beers on tap is totally awesome.

I built my keezer from a cheap craigs list purchase.

What are you waiting for? Buy those kegs. No one ever goes back once they start kegging. (unless they're crazy, or need the money)
 

ruffdeezy

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I'm in the same boat as you, I'm on my 7th batch, tired of bottling so I've bought the fridge at the keg parts are on the way. I have one batch that is not carbonating properly which is really frustrating. I think eventually I would get pissed off and brew less if I just kept bottling. I guess its just part of this brewing adventure. I will still bottle some since I do 23L batches and the kegs are only 19L, but I have some nice flip tops for that. I ordered my stuff from Kegconnection too.
 

bdnoona

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It does take a little money obviously, but everyone that thinks about/debates kegging should just do it. Kegging is as easy as racking the beer into the keg. It literally takes 90% of the headaches out of brewing.
 

HenryHill

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I got myself setup with the whole infrastructure FIRST, before I brewed the first batch. I built my own Sanyo, acquired kegs 2 or 4 at a time, bought the bulk o-rings, so when I was ready to brew, I already had a serving and storing system. I also set up a cheezer with Ranco digital temp control, for storage in summer, and fermentation use. I now have 10 corny's, enough for my use.

Now that I have a nice setup, I lament the lack of portability, and have an Agata bench capper on order, and have built the jumper of a beer corny QD, 6' of 3/16" beverage hose, with a cobra tap on the other end. Using Biermunchers BMBF, I will be able to fill cold carbonated beer into bottles and cap for the times I want to drink my HB away from home. You just remove the beer QD that goes to the facet tower, and slip on the jumper, with a racking cane of bottle length inside a drilled stopper, stuck into the end of the cobra tap.
 

mmb

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I liked bottling but kegging is much easier to dispense, less room for storage but cost more all told.

I could have a lot of bottles for what this beast cost to put together.

 

alpo

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My situation is almost exactly the same as TwoHeadsBrewing. I decided to start kegging after about 10 batches. Bottles are just too much of a hassle. It's not just the cleaning and bottling, the storage is a huge pain. I always had bottles all over the damn place.
 
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I began kegging when I decided I'd rather not brew at all than deal with the bottles.

I'm a complete gimp when it comes to tools and still managed to build a collar and convert a deep freeze into a nice keezer. If I can do it anybody can do it, and I mean that.

I bought a new Magic Chef and a 4-tap kegging setup online and still probably spent little more than a new single tower ready-made keggerator. At least that's what I choose to believe.:fro:
 

kirscp

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I went right to kegging. I didn't want to mess with all bottles, storing, cleaning, blah blah.
 

Poindexter

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Nobody who kegs ever gave it up and went back to bottling. Period.

I run a small fleet of kegs, and I do still bottle the big beers that need to age a while, but I am almost to the point I can put back a keg of something big - and that is going to be a really, really nice day.

Then I'll only have to bottle gifts, cause I have a couple three gallon cornies to take to parties...
 
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Nobody who kegs ever gave it up and went back to bottling. Period.

I run a small fleet of kegs, and I do still bottle the big beers that need to age a while, but I am almost to the point I can put back a keg of something big - and that is going to be a really, really nice day.

Then I'll only have to bottle gifts, cause I have a couple three gallon cornies to take to parties...
Isn't that the truth. I bottled some wine and I found that to be a royal PITA. I remember thinking, "I used to do this for very batch of beer? Was I nuts?!"
 

Poindexter

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Isn't that the truth. I bottled some wine and I found that to be a royal PITA. I remember thinking, "I used to do this for very batch of beer? Was I nuts?!"

I read it here first. I shoulda stuck it in my sig, I don't recall who it was. I was about to spend a bunch of money, wasn't sure, saw that line, puled the trigger, never looked back.

The only thing better than 5 kegs is 12 kegs. Or 20, what the heck.
 
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Woody

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wow. :mug:

thanks everyone for the kick up the backside... looks to me like the only thing holding me back after your advice is the fear factor in taking the big leap!

i'm still thinking about a fridge sold as a "kegerator" - then i can store all my currently conditioning beer, and when i have a few more lazy dollars around go ahead and hopefully buy a three tap/keg setup.

i wanted to read quite a bit in this section of the forum before taking the plunge into kegging, wanted to be sure that i wasnt goin to spend all that money and find it was too difficult or fiddly. But from all your advice, it seems as tho its as easy as filling up those kegs, carbing/conditioning, then drinking? :ban:

is it really all that simple?
 

kornkob

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Yes (with some caveats).



Think of kegging as bottling except with one large bottle instead of 55 tiny ones.

With a simple, but techincal, delivery system that costs money to operate.


There ARE things that could be considered downsides-- and I say this as someone who currently kegs and will not go back to bottling willingly-- and it is only fair to point them out.

Cost--- there is an ongoing expense: powering a kegerator. While not expensive if you do it right, it is an expense that cellaring bottled beer doesn't have.

Technical know how: many would say this should not be a 'downside' but for some (my gramps would have never bothered because it would have required learning something 'newfangled') it might be. In order to assemble, operate and maintain a keg system you'll need to learn how the new system works and spend time troubleshooting your setup. Me-- I considered that part of the fun-- but some folks don't want the 'hassle'.

Maintenance: there will be bits and pieces you'll have to do to maintain the kegerator that you don't have with a bottle. for one thing-- it's a fridge--- you'll have to clean it. A case of cellared bottles don't need to be checked for mildew or vacuumed under. There are other minor maintenance concerns as well--- mostly cleaning but also CO2 and the like.

More tools and parts around: you'll end up with spare tubing, poppets, special wrenches seals, gaskets, cleaning brushes and other bits andpieces around that you'd never need with bottling.



Now I imagine there are going to be people who storm in here and give me a hard time about these 'downsides' but I think it's only fair to let you know what you are in for. There are things people don't like about kegging but, in my experience, most folks think the downsides are overwhelmingly trounced by the upsides.
 

Poindexter

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Kornkob is right, it isn't a bed of roses. But what if you want exactly half a glass of beer after a really long day? Do you waste half a bottle or fill the glass half full from a tap?
 
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Or do you drink 8 cause you started drinking from the octoberfest glass and lost count. Then out came das boot (or the half yard) and you wake up in the garage under the work bench smelling of apfelwein samples.... This has never happened. ;)

BTW apfelwein on tap, can be a wee scary... Although you can pour a proper wine glas full instead of 12 oz's at a time.

It's the nights of drinking with buddies that kegging can be run you amuck. Rar :tank:
 

remilard

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Or do you drink 8 cause you started drinking from the octoberfest glass and lost count. Then out came das boot (or the half yard) and you wake up in the garage under the work bench smelling of apfelwein samples.... This has never happened. ;)

BTW apfelwein on tap, can be a wee scary... Although you can pour a proper wine glas full instead of 12 oz's at a time.

It's the nights of drinking with buddies that kegging can be run you amuck. Rar :tank:
If you are drinking out of a boat, seek help immediately.
 

Yooper

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I bottled about 150 batches before I won the kegging setup in the HBT football pool a couple of years ago. I was intimidated by the looks of the tanks, regulator, etc, since I'm not a very handy person, compared to the men on HBT.

Let me say this- it's much easier than I imagined it could be! When I had some issues, like how to find a leak, I just looked online here and used google and found out how to take care of it.

I wouldn't get a commercial kegerator, though. They look nice, but only can store a keg or two. I have a 3/4 sized fridge that easily fits two kegs, and it's just not big enough! Sure, it's enough to dispense two taps, but I sometimes want to cold condition a keg, or store some yeast. So, I took off the door shelves, and now have room for three. I also now have three taps.

I used picnic taps for well over a year before drilling the fridge, and that worked out fine. So, I'd suggest a regular (or small) fridge, and just use picnic taps until you can add your faucets. You can also use a chest freezer with just a few modifications that even I can do. Those come up on Craigslist all the time.
 

kornkob

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That varies...I use a commercially produced kegerator that I've slapped a 2 head tower on. The kegerator will hold 3 kegs and the 5# tank. I've been really happy with everything but the original casters that came with it. I replaced the tiny plastic things with a set of larger ball bearing casters for those instances when I want to roll the kegerator over to a neighbor's or take it to a party.
 

SOB

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But what if you want exactly half a glass of beer after a really long day? Do you waste half a bottle or fill the glass half full from a tap?
Why would you only want HALF a glass of beer after a long day? Fill 'er up! :)

I did find that I tend to drink more out of the keg because I cant count the number of bottles as the night goes on! The only downfall to kegging is if you want to take beer some where else, or share beer with friends at work you can only try to fill a flip top or something. Then it never seems to be as carbbed as right out of the keg.

Still...kegging is the way to go.
 

XXguy

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There ARE things that could be considered downsides-- and I say this as someone who currently kegs and will not go back to bottling willingly-- and it is only fair to point them out.
I agree with your points, and I'd also add in that "portability" is not quite as good with a keg setup.

If I'm heading over to someone's party & get a request to bring over some samples, it's much easier to crate up a 12 pack of 4 different varieties than to try to take 4 kegs and a tap setup along.
 

kornkob

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It's also a lot easier to get a 'stock level' with bottles. A keg inside a kegerator is hard to get a good 'measure' of how many beers are left, whereas with bottles you can pretty easily look at them to get a feel for how much homebrew you have left.
 

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A counterpoint to the keg boosterism:

I am agnostic about the all-singing, all-dancing wonders of kegging. Bottling never bothered me, but I bought some cornies to use for primary. Figured, what the heck, pick up the CO2 gear, too. At this point I am about $300 into my kegging gear and am not yet impressed. About the only wins from my point of view is:

1. I can fit two cornies into my ferm chamber instead of 1 carboy
2. cornies are easier to carry than 2 cases of bottles.
3. it is easy to rack sanitizer from cornie to cornie under pressure

Is that worth the money and all the carb calculation, spare refrigerators, Sisyphusian gas leak hunts, and line-balancing shenanigans? Not so far. I hope my opinion changes, or you may find a 20# bottle and a nice dual-bodied regulator in the classifieds forum in a few more months. I am willing to keep an open mind and see how my relationship with kegging develops.

At this point I would not recommend the substantial outlay for a kegging rig to anyone who can tolerate bottling without choking cats or other small animals.
 

SOB

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A few things to the post above...

1)It's just as easy to rack sanitizer without pressure and you dont waste the gas. Not sure what the benefit is of doing it under pressure...transfers faster? Maybe I'm misunderstanding...

2)Never had to do any carb calculations or line balancing. yes, I've had too many leaks but that's due to my own stupidity\lack of caring at first.

I really got tired of all the label cleaning, bottle sanitizing, 50+ bottles to fill and cap. SWMBO would help me every time and it was such a drag! I hated it so much that I would typically leave my beer in the secondary a week or two longer until I could get myself around to bottling. It would also take about an hour from start to finish to bottle. With kegging all you have to do is sanitize and transfer. I mean, what's the quickest and easiest part of brewing? To me it's transferring to secondary. You sanitize the next vessel and tubing, transfer, and clean to primary. DONE! That's basically all kegging is.

Sure, there's more to it at first, setting up the kegerator, checking for leaks, etc. But in the end it's much less a headache.
 

Mad_Milo

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One thing I haven't seen mentioned is the clearer pour out of a keg - you simply don't have the dregs (yeast, sediment, etc.) that muck up the flavor of your well-crafted beer.

I hated seeing my bottle-conditioned Kolsch get poured too far by friends and neighbors, and suddenly it's looking like a wheat beer, and tasting a bit bready. They didn't understand when to stop pouring, or to watch the neck of the bottle.
 

Spunkmeyer

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One thing I haven't seen mentioned is the clearer pour out of a keg - you simply don't have the dregs (yeast, sediment, etc.) that muck up the flavor of your well-crafted beer.

I hated seeing my bottle-conditioned Kolsch get poured too far by friends and neighbors, and suddenly it's looking like a wheat beer, and tasting a bit bready. They didn't understand when to stop pouring, or to watch the neck of the bottle.
This is one of the main reasons I'm starting to keg. I'm sure everybody I give beer to is tired of me acting like a parent dropping their kid off with a babysitter for the first time and giving them the instruction sheet... :)
 
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