If you have been home-brewing for some time now, you will probably have also gotten tired of cleaning and sanitizing your beer bottles before conditioning. For this reason, it is probably time for you to learn how to keg homebrew beer.
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Weighing the Pros and Cons of Kegging Beer
Kegging has a couple of advantages beyond just banishing beer bottles for the rest of your life. As it occurs, draft beer tastes so much fresher than bottled beer because it doesn’t allow air to come in contact with the homebrew and instead, only gets displaced with the help of CO2.
In addition to this, you will never have to worry about the sediments at the bottom of your bottle whenever you are pouring out the beer. Speaking of which, bottled beer is never consistent with respect to the amount of carbonation because this largely depends on how much priming sugar you used.
Alternatively, when you keg homebrew beer, you will never have to add priming sugar. The CO2 tank provides carbonation in this process and you can easily adjust how much is added according to your preferences. Another great thing about kegged beer is that it carbonates a lot quicker than bottled beer, which also means you wouldn’t have to wait to get a sip of the good stuff!
The only minor drawback to kegging is that you will have to get your CO2 tank refueled each time you want to whip up a batch. This can be done at your local welding supplies store or homebrew shops. Some shops even offer to exchange tanks instead of refilling them, so there’s your silver lining again.
What You’ll Need:
- The keg
- A CO2 tank
- A regulator (lowers and controls the pressure of CO2 as it gets released from its tank)
- A beer tap
- A keg refrigerator
How to Keg Homebrew Beer in 5 Easy Steps
It is important that you practice caution during this step. Make sure that you always release the keg’s pressure before disassembling it or removing its lid. You will find a release valve over most kegs that have been designed for this exact purpose.
You need to be careful because any flying parts caused by the pressure can be a potential hazard and, perhaps, even fatal. With that said, go ahead and start taking apart all of your kegs fittings, gaskets and components, while making a mental note of where each part goes. This will help you reassemble the keg once you’re through with all of these steps.
2. Clean and Disinfect Your Keg
If you just purchased a keg, it may seem pretty clean, however, we still recommend cleaning and disinfecting it before your first use. Also, to clean a used keg, you should fill it up with nearly 3-gallons of water and approximately 2 ¼ ounces of Powdered Brewery Wash (PBW).
You can also place all the disassembled components of the keg in this liquid and let it sit there for a couple of hours, or, if you have an obsessive problem, overnight. This usually depends on the condition of the keg or where you think it has been. The only thing we will advise you against is to stay away from heavy abrasives or scouring pads.
Now empty your keg and fill it again with fresh water and set it upside down. Drain this liquid after a couple of hours and then rinse the inside with hot water before sanitizing.
3. Fill Your Keg With Beer
Now it is finally time to keg your homebrew and in order to do this, transfer the beverage directly from your carboy or fermenter by siphoning it out into the keg, just as you used to do during the bottling process. Make sure that you avoid the unnecessary splashing and sloshing of beer so that air does not slip into the keg and oxidize your beer.
4. Seal and Pressurize Your Keg
When you’re fastening the lid of your keg, make sure its gasket is seated properly and sealed tightly. Now connect the keg’s gas quick-connect to its body connector and turn on your CO2 supply. Make sure that your CO2 tank’s regulator is set at 10 psi and is seated properly into the bail of the lid.
With the gas flowing, tighten down the bail and pull on the keg’s release valve for about 10-seconds or so. Now repeat this step a couple of times so that the oxygen inside the keg is displaced with CO2.
If you plan on refrigerating your beer at around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, then anywhere between 10 to 11 psi will allow for approximately 2.4 volumes of CO2 carbonation. If not, then it is advisable to adjust the pressure of your CO2 gas tank depending on the temperature where it will be stored.
It’s quite simple really – the warmer the temperature gets, the more pressure you need to add. You can also double check your calculations with any online forced carbonation chart.
Now that the hardest parts have been covered, all you need to do is wait for about a week until your beer goes through the carbonation process. If you have an event coming up or are feeling impatient to try your own handiwork, then you can speed things up by agitating the keg and increasing the pressure inside temporarily. Your beer will be ready within just a few days.
Our Final Thoughts
When your beer has been sufficiently carbonated, it will be finally time to kick back and enjoy a celebratory glass of refreshing homebrew with your friends or loved ones. You’ll find that not only is your keg of homebrew a little tastier, but you will also feel like a whole new person because you finally know how to keg homebrew beer.
As the saying goes, “Give a man a beer and he’ll live another day, but if you teach him to brew his own, he will live forever”, let’s raise a glass to your long life. Cheers!