Last week we took a look at some tips for bottling your beer. For many homebrewers though this can be time consuming, inconsistent and messy which is why many prefer to purchase a kegging set up – but how do you go about kegging and why bother?

Why keg?

Bottling is relatively easy and cheap and doesn’t require too much equipment but a 23 L (6 US Gal) batch can mean cleaning and sanitising around 40 individual bottles, preparing priming solution, transferring beer into a second clean and sanitised bottling bucket and syphoning into each bottle. It can be messy and time consuming, and for many brewers it is worth investing in a good kegging setup to not have to worry about bottling day.

When it comes to kegging you will require;

•A keg
• CO2 bottle and regulator
•A gas-in connector
•A liquid-out connector
•A cleaner/sanitiser

How to keg

Begin by pouring hot water into your keg and adding a good cleaner. Place the lid on the keg and add a small amount of CO2 to seal. Shake the keg thoroughly to soak all of the inner surfaces in cleaner solution and then leave the keg to stand for ten minutes. After ten minutes shake the keg thoroughly again before running some of the cleaner solution out of the liquid-out line.

Release the pressure on your keg and take the lid off to pour what is left of the cleaner out of the keg. Fill with hot water and pressurise again before shaking and running water out of the liquid out line. Then make a sanitiser solution before pressurising the keg once more and shaking. Allow the keg to soak in sanitiser solution as per instructions before shaking up and running some sanitiser solution out of the liquid out line. Then tip what is left of the sanitiser out of the keg.

Once your keg is clean and sanitised, you need a clean and sanitary syphon to transfer your beer from the fermenter into your keg before clipping the lid on.

Sanitising Cornelius kegs
Sanitising kegs
Filling a keg with beer
Filling keg with beer

Reading the CO2 Regulator

A CO2 regulator is designed to give you more control of the pressure of the gas coming from the tank into your keg. When you look at the regulator you will see two gauges, one on top and one to the side. The gauge on top of the regulator reads the ‘adjustable pressure’ which you can set by turning the screw in the middle of the regulator – tightening the screw increases the pressure.

The gauge on the side of the regulator reads the pressure from the CO2 tank though you will likely find this stays pretty steady until the tank starts to run out of gas at which point it will rapidly drop.

Carbonating Your Beer

pressure chart
Pressure chart

The above chart shows recommended PSI based on the temperature of your beer in the keg. Keep in mind that CO2 is absorbed faster at colder temperatures so the colder you can store your keg the faster it should carbonate. Allowing the CO2 to saturate the beer over time is the recommended method for carbonating your beer in a keg. If you are in a rush however it is possible to force carbonate your beer though it should be noted that this method can leave your beer over carbonated.
You can either set a high PSI on your regulator (25-30) and add gas to the keg until the flow stops before shaking the keg hard for up to a minute – some people will lay the keg on its side and roll it vigorously. After doing this 3 or 4 times, lower the pressure on the regulator slightly to reduce your risk of over-carbonating. Repeat this process several times before sampling your beer. Alternatively, use a lower pressure to begin with and just repeat the process more.

This is just our technique for kegging and many brewers will have developed their own tips and tricks, what is your preferred method? Let us know in the comments below or at [email protected]

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