How to keg home brew – Part 2
The first part of this article is here.
Once you have your all your gear collected, it’s time to test, connect, and fill with the first batch of brew.
The first thing is to get the CO2 tank filled. This can be done at a welding shop, or even a place that supplies fire extinguishers. I suggest weighing the CO 2 tank when empty and again when full which helps keep a track of how much of the tank is used. A freshly filled tank will be cold, so it is important to let it stand for a few hours at room temperature for it to settle.
The next step is to check that all valves are closed, and then attach the regulator to the tank. Connect up the tubing to the CO2 and keg, and fill the keg up with gas to test for leaks. An easy way of testing this is to use soapy water on all the joints and fitments and look for bubbles.
Once done, just turn off the CO2, and release the pressure inside the keg using the pressure release valve.
The fun part – Just rack your fermented brew into the keg. Pop the top back on, and use CO2 to purge any oxygen that is collected at the top of the tank. I suggest doing this at about 10 psi.
At this stage, I use a software called BeerSmith to calculate the pressure needed for the volumes of CO2 that suit the style of beer I have brewed. I set the PSI at what is suggested in the software, and have yet to have any problems with it.
There are 2 ways to force carbonate a keg:
1. Place the keg in the kegerator, set the PSI as needed, and just wait for about 5 days.
2. The whole point of kegging for me is that I get to taste my beer immediately! So I prefer to follow this method: Fill the keg, pressurise as needed, shake the keg, wait a bit, and repeat! How this works is that it creates more surface area for the CO2 to get absorbed into the liquid. The pressurise, shake, and wait method will need to be repeated a few times to achive proper carbonation. When the CO2 stops flowing through the regulator, we know that the job is done.
One to keep in mind with this method, is to always leave the keg overnight after the last shaking session to let it settle down.
Similar to bottle carbonation, kegs can be naturally carbonated using dextrose as well.
The worst part of brewing is all the cleaning up, though a keg saves having to clean loads of bottles. It is quite easy to clean a keg though. Just fill up with soapy water, close it up, shake it about, use a soft bristle brush, and rinse! I use Iodophor for all my sanitising needs, so once the keg is clean, I fill it up with sanitising solution, throw in all the other fitments and tubes and let the whole let sanitise together.