The greatest thing about brewing your own beer is always having fresh, well-made beer available. But eventually, most home brewers get tired of having to bottle 5 gallons (or more) of beer at a time. If you've reached that point, it's time to start thinking about kegging. Most home brewers use 5-gallon soda kegs, commonly called Cornelius kegs, for storing and serving beer. While it requires a small initial investment, switching from bottles to Cornelius kegs is easier than you might think.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- One or more Cornelius kegs
- CO2 tank
- CO2 regulator
- Ball-lock or pin-lock disconnects for beer and gas connections
- Gas line
- Beer line
- Tubing clamps
- Beer faucet or cobra tap
Buy one or more Cornelius kegs. These can be purchased at home brew shops or online and are available new or used. Most Cornelius kegs hold 5 gallons of beer, but smaller versions are also available. If you're buying used kegs, find out if they have been reconditioned. If not, you'll need to buy a gasket kit as well.
Buy a carbon dioxide (CO2) tank. This is required to pressurise the kegs. Empty CO2 tanks can be purchased from home brew supply stores, or full ones from gas and welding supply stores. If you purchase an empty tank, you'll need to get it filled before you can serve beer.
Buy the accessories necessary to connect the CO2 tank to your keg and serve beer: You'll need a gas regulator to ensure proper serving pressure; enough gas line to reach from your CO2 tank to the keg; a gas disconnect to connect the gas line to the keg; enough beer line to reach from the keg to your serving area; a beer disconnect to connect the beer line to the keg; and cobra tap or beer faucet to serve beer.
Replace the keg's (five) gaskets if necessary.
Connect the gas regulator to the CO2 tank using a wrench.
Connect the gas line to the barbed ends on the gas regulator and gas disconnect.
Connect the beer line to the tap and beer disconnect. Use tubing clamps on the gas line and beer line to ensure there are no leaks.
Connect the gas disconnect to the post marked "in" and connect the beer disconnect to the post marked "out."
Open the keg's lid and transfer beer from your fermenter using a piece of tubing. When you're done, close the lid on the keg and make sure it is sealed tightly.
Open the main valve on the CO2 tank all the way. Then, use the adjustment screw on the gas regulator to set the serving pressure. For most beers, this will be between 2.27 and 4.54 Kilogram per square inch (psi). You can then use the tap of faucet to serve beer into glasses. Congratulations!
Tips and warnings
- If you plan to force-carbonate your beer before serving, you'll need to connect the gas line to the "out" post on the beer, and leave the beer to carbonate for two to three days.
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