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What is the suggested way to clean keg after emptying one?

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TkmLinus

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I am seeing a lot of different advice on how to clean a kicked keg and was wondering if there is a general consensus. Is it best to completely disassemble, pbw the keg and all parts, followed with Star San then let dry? Or is something like rinsing the keg well with hot water(followed with star san) and running hot water through the lines enough? Then perhaps doing a full break down and clean every few kegs fulls? Thanks in advance!
 

Transamguy77

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A quick rinse with hot water is all I usually do when they kick, I rarely break them down for cleaning.

How many kegs do you have? If you have a few I would recommend getting a keg washer either DIY or purchase it makes things so much easier when it come to cleaning. I have several kegs and I built a washer so I usually wait until I have several and wash them all at the same time and store with the lids off.
 
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TkmLinus

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I only have 4 kegs. Just started kegging and kicked the first one a couple of days ago. Currently have 1 full with 3 fermenters bubbling away to fill the rest.
 

Dgallo

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Like anything in life, you find there are people who are are very detailed oriented and people who less so. Since breaking down a keg takes literally only two minutes. That’s what I do. Here are my steps.

1) Rinse the keg out quick to remove any trub.
2) Unscrew the liquid post and clean the poppet to remove any hop debris that got caught in the spring. (I typically will not worry about the co2 post unless the keg was in the fridge for a while)
3) Run the dip tube bush down it a few and make sure it is cleaned out and then reassemble and attach.
4) this step really depends on how the keg looked. If I have any stubborn lacing on the sides of the keg I’ll fill the keg halfway with a pbw solution and set up upright for 15 minutes and then flip it over for another 15 minutes.
5) Then I’ll connect the gas and run the solution through my tap line and let it sit for a few minutes
6) I’ll dump the rest of the solution from the keg and give it a quick rinse and fill the keg with 2l of hot water reconnect it to the gas and tap line and run it through the tap line until it’s gone and let the gas run another few seconds to get as much liquid out of the line as possible.
7) store the keg.

then before I use this keg again I’ll sterilize it and fill it
 
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TkmLinus

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Like anything in life, you find there are people who are are very detailed oriented and people who less so. Since breaking down a keg takes literally only two minutes. That’s what I do. Here are my steps.

1) Rinse the keg out quick to remove any trub.
2) Unscrew the liquid post and clean the poppet to remove any hop debris that got caught in the spring. (I typically will not worry about the co2 post unless the keg was in the fridge for a while)
3) Run the dip tube bush down it a few and make sure it is cleaned out and then reassemble and attach.
4) this step really depends on how the keg looked. If I have any stubborn lacing on the sides of the keg I’ll fill the keg halfway with a pbw solution and set up upright for 15 minutes and then flip it over for another 15 minutes.
5) Then I’ll connect the gas and run the solution through my tap line and let it sit for a few minutes
6) I’ll dump the rest of the solution from the keg and give it a quick rinse and fill the keg with 2l of hot water reconnect it to the gas and tap line and run it through the tap line until it’s gone and let the gas run another few seconds to get as much liquid out of the line as possible.
7) store the keg.

then before I use this keg again I’ll sterilize it and fill it
Thanks! I like the fill halfway with PBW idea and flip the keg idea, PBW can get expensive quick! Also didn't think about hops in the poppet.
 

day_trippr

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I rarely disassemble kegs for cleaning. Usually I rinse them out, stick them in whichever cold fridge has some space, and get them on the Mark II within another day or few.

fwiw, 2.5 gallons of PBW at the standard concentration would require 2.5 times as much PBW as needed for a Mark II to run a few kegs. The darned thing may actually be saving me money by now :)

Cheers!
 

FromZwolle

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full breakdown every 5 or so uses. mostly just a rinse with hot water, then sanitize with either star san or iodine. rack that to another keg when i'm ready to fill it with beer.
 

NSMikeD

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I rinse with very hot water as soon as it kicks. On keg day I’ll add some hot water and run it trough my tap (cleans the tap and lines as well) and then give it a spray of star san.
 

william_shakes_beer

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Everybody has their own regimen, here's mine;

As soon as convenient after the keg kicks I'll open the lid, drain out the remainders and rinse with clear water, then with starsan. Seal it back up and pressurize.
When I'm ready to refill I'll disassemble, removing the poppets, springs, and dip tube. Clean the old lube from the lid seal, sanitize and re lube. Then I'm ready to refill. I do it this in part because I already have a bucket of starsan prepared for my kegging day and its convenient to clean while i'm waiting for the trub to settle out from moving the brew bucket out of the ferm chamber.

It takes me a loooong time to kick a keg, so I want to get the old product out of the keg and the seals back under pressure where they belong as soon as possible. It may be a year or more before I refill that particular keg.
 
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Mtrhdltd

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Apparently im very lazy. When I need the space in the kegerator I take the keg out and leave it sealed until the next brew day. Then I rinse it out and clean it with a home made keg and carboy washer. Then it gets purged with fermentation gases, then filled with beer when fermentation is over. I rarely disassemble my keg posts.
 

seatazzz

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And apparently I am BEYOND lazy. When a keg kicks it just comes out of the kegerator and sits in the garage until I need it. On kegging day I let the co2 out, then rinse with hot water, then cold; quick inspection to make sure nothing left in there, then I dump a few cups of starsan in it, roll it for about 10 seconds, dump, and fill it up again. Every couple of months I disassemble the out posts and clean them. I have even been known to keg into a "dirty" keg; as long as I keep the co2 in it from the last time, nothing can grow in there. All of my dry hops go in bags so I rarely have clogged poppets. I'm still alive and kickin, and my beers taste great.
 

jseyfert3

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Apparently I’m lazier yet as it’s been a month since one of my kegs kicked and I haven’t even pulled it out of the kreezer yet.

But yes, like the above posters I often don’t get around to cleaning my legs till I use them next. If left sealed there’s no O2 so nothing grows. If you open them you better clean them right away though.

When I get around to cleaning I have taken them apart so far, it’s pretty quick to take off the fittings and you’d need a pump and fittings to properly clean the poppets so why not take them apart?

I rarely disassemble kegs for cleaning. Usually I rinse them out, stick them in whichever cold fridge has some space, and get them on the Mark II within another day or few.

fwiw, 2.5 gallons of PBW at the standard concentration would require 2.5 times as much PBW as needed for a Mark II to run a few kegs. The darned thing may actually be saving me money by now :)

Cheers!
I know what I want next now. That’d be way better for carboy and keg cleaning instead of the fill and soak method.
 

jseyfert3

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For all those claiming nothing grows in co2 rich environments. They are called anaerobic microbs Strictly anaerobic beer-spoilage bacteria
Interesting. Makes sense really. But if I had those in my keg, then my beer/cider would have spoiled before the keg kicked, and logic states if not, then if kept sealed after kicking those can't get in and all the stuff that needs O2 (mold, etc) won't grow. It was that stuff I was thinking of when I made my statement about things not being able to grow in CO2.
 

Dgallo

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Interesting. Makes sense really. But if I had those in my keg, then my beer/cider would have spoiled before the keg kicked, and logic states if not, then if kept sealed after kicking those can't get in and all the stuff that needs O2 (mold, etc) won't grow. It was that stuff I was thinking of when I made my statement about things not being able to grow in CO2.
Depend on the cell count of the initial infection. I’ll use brettanomyces as an example. As long as it’s present and has time it will do it’s thing. You could literally pitch 100 cells of into a beer at 1.010 and after months it will populate enough to cause a noticeable infection. Sometimes 3 months or more. Eventually you will reach 1.001/2 or even less when ample time is given
 

Pkrd

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Rinse with hot water to remove crud. If stubborn I might put a few inches of water in and some PBW.
When it looks clean soak for an hour or two in PBW with the lid inside and a liquid disconnect attached. Tip a few times so stuff flows out the beer post.

Store with about a litre of no rinse sanitiser in it.
 

day_trippr

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[...]
I know what I want next now. That’d be way better for carboy and keg cleaning instead of the fill and soak method.
Great for kegs indeed, but I can't recommend it for carboys - at least, not the 6.5 gallon carboys I use. The thing fires a stream straight up so there's no power left to hit the sides where the crud lives - it totally relies on cleanser simply running down the walls, and my observation was it doesn't do the job well...

Cheers!
 

Ridenour64

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I break down the keg every time. But I also leave it in my keezer after it kicks, until I’m ready to fill again. I soak all the parts in the smallest possible quantity solution possible. I use a brush for inside the keg. Very simple really. Unless your turning kegs very quickly I can’t see a reason not to.
 

jseyfert3

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Great for kegs indeed, but I can't recommend it for carboys - at least, not the 6.5 gallon carboys I use. The thing fires a stream straight up so there's no power left to hit the sides where the crud lives - it totally relies on cleanser simply running down the walls, and my observation was it doesn't do the job well...

Cheers!
Rats, but thanks for the heads up.
 

Spivey24

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I generally dissasemble and clean, and leave disassembled to dry. If I have any concerns I will pbw it. But this last time, I knew it didn’t have much gunk in it and I was going to reuse it within a couple of days, so I just drained some star san into it, sloshed it around and forced out the star San with co2. It saved having to fill and purge the whole thing with CO2 since it was already filled with CO2.
 

FswBG

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Similar to most, I don't clean my kegs right away. It's all situational, but I try to save a few kegs so I don't have to clean one at a time and I'll fully break them down after every 4-5 cleanings. I use a diy keg cleaner that has a submersible pump and ball lock disconnects to run cleaner and sanitizer (non-foam) through the posts. It's very similar to the ss brewtech keg washer, but no shiny stuff and 1/4 the cost.

My laziness comes in for our carbonated water kegs. I keep water on draft at 35 psi that my wife and I go through probably every 3-4 weeks. Instead of cleaning it out I'll typically just drain any excess from the keg and spray some starsan in there before refilling.
 

NewJersey

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Interesting thread. My kegs always look spotless upon being opened but I always do the following anyways.
Rinse thoroughly with hot water
Fill with hot water and pbw til overflowing(or oxiclean) and let sit for 30 minutes
Dump and rinse even more thoroughly.
Fill with star san up to just below the air in tube.
Then it'll sit til needed or I put it in the kegerator and push out all star san through the beer faucet.
It's then clean, sanitized, and basically o2 free and ready for beer. I like doing it this way to give me beer lines and faucet a lil rinse too.

I've read that guys on here push the star san out with off gassing co2 from an active fermenter and this is something I'd like to give a go.
 

spbagwell

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I do the same as some of the previous posts to clean 1 or 2 kegs:
- After emptying a 5 gallon keg, rinse with hot water to loosen the trub at the bottom, which is not much.
- Scrub the sides with a wet paper towel to ensure it is smooth to the touch
- Fill with 1 gallon of water, 0.2 oz of Star San, put the lid back on, and rotate for 3 mins
- Empty the Star San through the Out post to the other keg that is being cleaned
- Fill the sanitized keg with CO2 using the Out post to purge oxygen from the bottom
- Store the keg for the next use

Since I have 12 kegs of various capacities and various heights, I prefer a faster method when I have a lot of kegs to clean that allows me to do something else while the keg is being sanitized.

A Mark II keg and carboy washer runs about $100, but, with a few added items, a DIY solution can be created using items already on hand. After doing some work on my yard irrigation system, I had a lot of PVC fittings and parts leftover. Plus, I always have extra tubing, keg connectors, buckets, and stainless steel nuts and bolts. From start to finish, if purchasing all the items, the cost will run about the same as the Mark II keg and carboy washer.

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Style-Selections-11-81-in-x-13-19-in-Sink-Grid/50157888 $17.88
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Oatey-PVC-Flange/50315121 $6.98
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Superior-P...moplastic-Submersible-Utility-Pump/1002778198 $59.99
https://www.homedepot.com/p/DURA-3-4-in-x-1-2-in-Schedule-40-PVC-Reducer-Bushing-C438-101/202101746 $0.87
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Charlotte-...in-dia-Schedule-80-Tee-PVC-Fitting/1000107429 $3.43
https://www.lowes.com/pd/B-K-1-2-in-Barbed-Barb-x-MIP-Adapter-Fitting/1000505043 $2.48
https://www.lowes.com/pd/B-K-1-4-in-Barbed-Tee-Fitting/1000505091 $3.08
https://www.lowes.com/pd/K-Rain-Smartset-Series-15-ft-30-ft-Gear-Drive-Rotor/3197075 $9.96
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Orbit-orbit-8-ft-12-ft-Shrub-Head-Sprinkler/1052497 $5.78
https://www.lowes.com/pd/United-Solutions-5-Gallon-General-Bucket/1000462835 $3.48
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Orbit-1-2-in-MNPT-x-1-2-in-MNPT-Cut-Off-Riser/999930374 $2.08
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Hillman-1-4-in-20-x-1-1-2-in-Phillips-Drive-Machine-Screws-6-Count/3816095 $2.28
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Hillman-1-4-in-x-20-Stainless-Steel-Hex-Nut-10-Count/3816083 $2.28
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Hillman-6-...ess-Steel-Standard-SAE-Fender-Washers/3811479 $2.28

The DIY advantage is putting leftover parts to good use, allows adjusting the spray height for each item being cleaned, and no need to take the keg components apart as the keg connections clean the internal posts. To clean the keg or carboy, I rinse the it with hot water to remove the trub and any lingering yeast. For a carboy with dried trub on the side, I let the cleaner run overnight with Oxiclean or PBW. A quick rinse with fresh water and then it is ready to be sanitized. Instead of using Star San for sanitizing, you need to use Saniclean, which is the non-foaming version. I put the keg or carboy on the cleaner for 10 mins. After air drying, I put the lid back on and purge oxygen out with CO2.
 

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jseyfert3

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Huh. I may go the DIY route. The pump is the majority of that cost. I have not one but two utility pumps already, so I could give one a good cleaning and put that to use for a washer.
 

spbagwell

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Huh. I may go the DIY route. The pump is the majority of that cost. I have not one but two utility pumps already, so I could give one a good cleaning and put that to use for a washer.

To be transparent, I have plastic Big Mouth Bubblers for carboys. Any crud that remains on the side after an overnight cleaning gets repositioned so that the water jet coming out of the rotating sprinkler head directly hits the crud to loosen it. After building the DIY washer, I came across the Ss Brewtech Keg WaSsher ($211), which basically functions the same. Having the utility pump already will save you a lot more than it did me.
 

Dgallo

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To be transparent, I have plastic Big Mouth Bubblers for carboys. Any crud that remains on the side after an overnight cleaning gets repositioned so that the water jet coming out of the rotating sprinkler head directly hits the crud to loosen it. After building the DIY washer, I came across the Ss Brewtech Keg WaSsher ($211), which basically functions the same. Having the utility pump already will save you a lot more than it did me.
You bought and put all that time into that for cleaning large mouth fermenters. I’m not being rude but why...
 

spbagwell

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12 kegs and 5 fermenters to clean and sanitize - I'd rather spend my time doing something else.
 

Dgallo

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12 kegs and 5 fermenters to clean and sanitize - I'd rather spend my time doing something else.
The kegs I understand it for but it actually seems like more work for the fermenters
 

Mtrhdltd

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I also went the diy route, but I used a small submersible pump from a hydroponic supply, I drilled a few holes in a plastic pipe cap.
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gnef

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I built a keg cleaner years ago, but now I rarely use it. I only really use it when I am cleaning and rinsing my 30 gallon plastic fermenter to get it ready for my fermentation for my flander's red barrel every year or every other year.

To give some context, I have right around 90 kegs, so I've had to find some efficiencies over the years. I also have kegs that have been holding meads, ciders, and some big beers for over a decade at a time. Most recent was a cyser that I kegged in 2009 that I finally emptied. When you have a beverage in a keg for over a decade, it can have some hard buildup in the bottom.

What I do, is rinse out with hot water, then I use a manifold that is connected to my house water on one end and keg disconnects on the other, and I blast water through both the gas and liquid dip tubes until at least 3-4 gallons have been purged through.

Once I've rinsed the dip tubes, I then do another rinse in hot water to get as much as I can out. There are definitely some that still have hardened buildup. I then fill the keg up entirely to the brim with hot water, and add a full scoop of oxiclean. I put the lid on, pull on the pressure relief to make sure some solution is coming out there, then press on the poppets and make sure the dip tubes and entire post are filled with solution as well (as the oxiclean reacts in the water, it gives off some gas, so it pressurizes the keg and can push liquid into the diptubes).

I then leave the keg filled with the solution overnight, and the next day I dump out the solution, rinse with hot water, rinse the dip tubes through the manifold again, and a final rinse with hot water.

After this cleaning ritual (it sounds longer than it actually takes me, I let oxiclean do most of the work!), I then leave it upside to mostly dry for a day or two, and then turn it right side up and still open, press the poppets to release any water left in the dip tubes, and then let it dry completely. After I am satisfied it is dry, I then pressurize the keg for long term storage at 10 psi and spray the seals with starsan to check for leaks. I do this so that the next time I go to use a keg, I pull up on the pressure relief valve, and if it doesn't have pressure at that point, I know there is a leak somewhere - I set it aside to find the leak later, and find a keg that still has pressure so that I can keg with confidence at that point.

I will say that this system works well for me. I will also say that I've been using kegs long enough that kegs that did seal well eventually developed leaks that I had to take care of, and my caution to others is to always be looking for leaks and find ways so that leaks become more and more obvious.
 

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Ok, maybe I’m stupid - or perhaps the laziest one here... I had a keg kick yesterday and I dumped the last 10oz out (cut dip tube) and immediately racked a beer in to the keg. It was filled with beer within 10 minutes of kicking. No rinse, nothing. I sanitized the keg lid and popped the keg right back in to the kegerator. We’ll see what happens?

-Dan
 

IslandLizard

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Ok, maybe I’m stupid - or perhaps the laziest one here... I had a keg kick yesterday and I dumped the last 10oz out (cut dip tube) and immediately racked a beer in to the keg. It was filled with beer within 10 minutes of kicking. No rinse, nothing. I sanitized the keg lid and popped the keg right back in to the kegerator. We’ll see what happens?

-Dan
Although you could you may want to review whether you should. ;)

Also, once you fill kegs that have been 100% liquid pre-purged, you never want to go back to filling through the lid opening...
 

gnef

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Ok, maybe I’m stupid - or perhaps the laziest one here... I had a keg kick yesterday and I dumped the last 10oz out (cut dip tube) and immediately racked a beer in to the keg. It was filled with beer within 10 minutes of kicking. No rinse, nothing. I sanitized the keg lid and popped the keg right back in to the kegerator. We’ll see what happens?

-Dan
Haha. I would say that it definitely isn't best practice, but feel free to do what works for you! If you go through beer quickly enough, any contaminants that may have built up may not have enough time to make a noticeable impact on your beer.

If, however, you have beers that you intend on having for many months, if not years (I had a barelywine that was over 11 years old in the keg!), I would say it is best practice to ensure you are working with a clean and sanitized keg.
 

eric19312

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I use the mark 2 with the T adapter connecting to gas and liquid ball lock connectors so I am simultaneously pushing liquid through both poppets and dip tubes and up the center. I use PBW and have a heater with an inkbird controller to keep the liquid at 135F.

I keep the kegs pressurized until I clean them
1 vent CO2
2 rinse with hot water to get most of the gunk
3 hook up to the mark 2 and run hot PBW 15 minutes
4 rinse with hot tap water
5 store upside down with lid sitting on top (well on the bottom) till ready to use

sanitize, purge and fill are all done at same time using clean dry keg
 

Imhoppy

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After every kicked keg, complete disassembly within a day or two at most. Just prior to cleaning, remove from kegerator and vent (I NEVER remove keg and let it set at room temperature uncleaned). Promptly rinse keg with hot water, then use a keg brush after partially filling with a few drops of dishwashing soap and more hot water. Dump and rinse until clear. Brush and clean inside of dip tube and gas tube. Clean and inspect all parts and o-rings. Replace o-rings if cut, old, or out-of- round. Relube o-rings, soak parts in Starsan, add Starsan (about 1 to 2 quarts) to keg, reassemble and tighten fittings, seal keg, and shake to cover all internal surfaces. Store sanitized keg until ready to fill again (and don't forget to empty before refilling). I haven't forgot - so far anyway.
 

gnef

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Are you saying that keg was on tap for 11 years in a keezer/kegerator?
You, sir, deserves a few medals!
Haha, it was not on tap the entire time, but it was in the walk-in cooler during that time. I had rediscovered the keg when I was culling through the kegs in the walk-in (there are around 70 kegs in there). I stack my kegs in there 3 high in the back, so a keg can get "lost" for many years. I have 14 taps out of a coffin box from the walk-in cooler, so I rotate beers on and off some times to see how things are aging, or if something isn't worth keeping. This especially happens when I brew a new beer, and I need to find a spot for it on the coffin box, so inevitably a keg gets replaced, and I forget about it until I look around and find it again!

I have a number of meads from 2006-2007 still, some ciders from that time. I already drank through my oldest beers from that time, but I think I still have a RIS from around 2012, and a barleywine maybe a bit younger than that. I also have some other beers that are in the 2-7 year range as well, some have aged better than others!
 

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I made my own keg washer with a sump pump, a 7 gallon bucket, some pvc and tubing. I can power wash the keg and both liquid and gas posts at the same time. I hose out the kegs first with a garden hose. PBW solution (alkaline) in the keg washer, followed by a water rinse. Then I spray Star San inside the walls of the keg for an acid bath. Put the keg lid on and store until I am ready to keg. Then I use Sani Clean in the keg washer and run the kegs through the washer right before kegging. Works great, no beer stone, mold, nasties, just very clean kegs and great beer! I do break down the posts also to make sure they are clean as well and I use some keg lube on the post's gaskets.

John
 
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