Homebrew kegging and draft beer tapping equipment including aluminum CO2 tanks, CO2 regulators, quick disconnects, Cornelius kegs, beer taps, pony taps, beer hardware, hoses and fittings.

   Home   Online Store   Filling CO2 Tanks   Remote Kegerator   Local Hours   Contact Us
Site Links
Home Page
Online Store
Filling CO2 Tanks
Remote Kegerator
Local Hours
Contact Us
Kegerator Troubleshooting
Correct CO2 regulator
About CO2 Gas
Product Manuals

Electric Brewing
Heat Source Comparison
About BTUs
Boil Control
Mash Control
Sizing Wires
Wiring Diagrams
Calculating BTUs
Brewery Wiring
FOTEK SSRs
Temperature Sensors
50A Controller
Sensor Placement

MYPIN PID
Controllers
Basic
Programming
Greenhouse
Controller

Homebrew Links
Start Kegging
Electric Brewpot
Homebrew Kegerator
Danby Kegerator
Freezer Conversion
Beer Tower Cooling
Tricks and Tips
Kegerator Elements
Beer Carbonation
Homebrew Recipes
Beer Recipes.org
Homebrew Clubs
RIMS Tube
RANCO Wiring

Draft Beer Links
Draft Questions
Draft Kegerator
The Brew Site

Soda Links
2L Soda Carbonation

Other Sites
Andy's Hot Sauce
stir-plate.com
JoJo's Pub
TowerCooler.com
ronalfy.com
 

 


Start Kegging Your Own Homebrew Beer

 

Many potential customers have asked me what they need to keg beer. You will need a quality keg, a way to chill your beer and some sort of delivery system. I’ve outlined each piece of a typical home brew system below and I hope that the information is useful to you if you are considering kegging your own beer.

 

Just starting out?

If you are new to homebrew beer then I suggest that you start out by bottling your own beer. A typical five gallon batch will fill about 50 - 12 oz bottles. Any non-twist off bottle will work for homebrew – just make sure that they are clean and sanitized. You don’t want any of the wrong bugs growing inside your brew!

 

You can even bottle in clean 2 liter plastic soda bottles! Just make sure that they are sanitized before bottling.

 

Cornelius (Corny) Kegs

Cornelius kegs were originally used by the soft drink industry for soda fountains. The tanks contained syrup which was pushed up to the drink dispenser by CO2 pressure and mixed with carbonated water for the final drink (Coke, Pepsi, etc.). The soda industry still uses Cornelius kegs today for pre-mix setups, but the entire industry has converted over to BIB (Bag in Box) type systems for syrup type systems.

 

There are two types of Cornelius tanks on the market. One is a pin lock system and the other is a ball lock system. Pin lock and ball lock refer to the way the quick disconnects attach to the kegs. Pin locks have small pins around the perimeter of the posts. The quick disconnects press on and the collars rotate and lock onto the pins. Ball lock disconnects work similar to an air line disconnect. You just retract the collar, press the quick disconnect onto the post and release the collar. I prefer the pin lock system myself, but most home brewers use the ball lock system.

 

Pin lock kegs are also referred to as Coke kegs since the system was (and still is) used exclusively by Coke. Ball lock kegs are commonly referred to as Pepsi kegs, but the more correct term is general beverage kegs. The posts are not transferable between keg types.

 

Pressurization

Once you get your beer inside your keg, you’ll need someway to deliver it back out. You could naturally carbonate your beer and just let the head pressure push your beer out, but you’d find that your brew would go flat before you could drink even half the keg. You could also rig up a hand pump to pressurize your keg, but you’d be introducing airborne contaminates and oxygen into your brew.

 

This is where CO2 comes in. You can pressurize your keg with CO2 and eliminate all of these problems. An added plus is that you can use CO2 to actually carbonate your beer! But the pressure inside a CO2 tank is way too high, which means that you will need a regulator to drop your CO2 pressure down to a manageable level. There are several regulators on the market, but the best type is one with a dual gauge. A dual gauge regulator monitors your line pressure and your tank pressure, letting you know when to refill the tank.

 

CO2 Tanks

First, let me say that not all CO2 tanks are created equal. All CO2 tanks used to be made of steel and some tanks are still made of steel, but now you can purchase new CO2 tanks made of 100% extruded aluminum. Aluminum tanks are ½ the weight of the old fashioned steel tanks (empty), plus they don’t have the corrosion problems of steel tanks. CO2 tanks come in a wide range of sizes and I sell only new 2.5, 5, 10 & 20 pound aluminum tanks.

 

A word of caution if you are contemplating the purchase of a used CO2 tank. All tanks must be inspected and hydro tested every five years. If a tank fails hydro test, the filling facility is required by law to confiscate & destroy the tank. The seller of the used tank might be offering you a money back guarantee, but the guarantee is useless if you have no tank to return to the seller.

 

Beer Taps

Most home brewers use a pony tap. A pony tap is a low cost tap with a thumb valve. Others use a conventional tap mounted through the door of their fridge. A third solution is a beer tower mounted on top of a short fridge. Any of these taps will work well and what you use depends upon how much money you wish to invest on your hobby.

 

Refrigeration

Some home brewers purchase a low cost or used chest type freezer and they override the internal thermostat with an external thermostat. This system works well because you can usually place three kegs plus one CO2 cylinder down inside the converted freezer. To use this system, you just open up the lid and dispense from one of your pony taps.

 

Others prefer a “Kegerator” type setup. They will convert a conventional refrigerator into a kegerator by mounting one or more beer taps through the door and placing their kegs inside the fridge. A typical Kegerator setup does not require an external thermostat, plus it just looks cool!

 

The third setup is a short fridge converted into a kegerator, with beer tower mounted on top.

 

A compromise system is to store your kegs inside a fridge without beer taps through the door. With this system, you just open the door and dispense from one of your pony taps.

 

By the way, BestBuy is selling a Haier brand 10.5 Cu. Ft. single door refrigerator for $299.99 (7/13/04). The fridge makes an excellent two keg homebrew kegerator system!

 

Connecting it all Together

All that’s left are the hoses and fittings that connect everything together.

 

Most home brewers use ¼” or 3/8” tubing for their gas line and beer line. What you use is really your preference but I do sell far more ¼” hose than any other size. You also have an option of clear plastic line or braded line. Clear plastic is great when you need flexibility and I’d definitely recommend clear plastic for your pony tap, unless you have the type of tap with the black beer line already attached. For everything else, I’d recommend braded line. Braded line is a little less flexible but it has excellent abrasion resistance and it won’t kink if bent into a tight radius.

 

Many home brewers use the screw type clamps for their line. Screw clamps work OK but they have a nasty habit of chewing up your line. Oetiker clamps work much better because they are a step less design and they will not destroy your hoses.

 

Tees and cross tees are also available for sending your CO2 regulator output to several kegs at the same time.

 

All fittings should be stainless steel for no other reason than they will not break or crack.

 

Copper and brass fittings  are OK for the CO2 side of your setup, but never ever plumb the liquid side of your system with either copper or brass. The beer will leech copper, making you very sick.

 

Tom

This site is owned and operated by Tom Hargrave Sales
12021 South Memorial Parkway, Suite N-4
Huntsville, AL  35803
sales@kegkits.com