How to Use a Co2 Tank & Cornelius Keg

Written by tracy underwood
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How to Use a Co2 Tank & Cornelius Keg
The Cornelius keg is a home brewer's alternative to bottling. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

The Cornelius or "Corny" keg was originally used in the soft drink industry. It has become a top choice among home brewers who are ready to take their beer-making to the next level, kegging their product. This keg holds approximately five gallons rather than the 15 or more gallons that the typical beer keg holds. This works out well for the home brewer, because 5 gallons is considered the standard batch size in home brewing. Cornelius kegs are readily available used, and any gas company can supply a small CO2 tank.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Water
  • No-rinse chemical sanitiser
  • CO2 regulator
  • Faucet and tube assembly
  • Gas line assembly
  • Tank wrench

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  1. 1

    Rinse the keg out with water. Fill keg with fresh water. Add chemical sanitiser at the ratio indicated on the sanitiser label.

  2. 2

    Close the lid of the keg. Slosh thoroughly to distribute the sanitiser throughout the keg.

  3. 3

    Attach the regulator to the CO2 tank. Tighten with the tank wrench. Attach the gas line assembly to the regulator.

  4. 4

    Attach the gas line quick-connect to the "in" plug on the keg. Attach the faucet tube assembly to the "out" plug on the keg. Tug on both connectors to make sure they are locked.

  5. 5

    Open the gas valve on the CO2 tank. Turn the adjustment screw or knob on the regulator to 10 psi as indicated on the gauge. Open the faucet and allow sanitiser solution to flow for as long as it takes to fill a glass.

  6. 6

    Turn off the gas. Open the pressure release valve on the keg and allow the pressure to escape. Open the lid of the keg and pour all of the sanitiser solution out. Boil one quart of water. Pour the boiled water into the keg to rinse the remnant of sanitiser solution out. Pour the water out of the keg.

    Kegging the Beer

  1. 1

    Siphon the beer from your carboy into the keg. Stop when the keg is within 2 inches of the top.

  2. 2

    Close the lid of the keg. Open the CO2 tank valve. Set the pressure to 20 psi. Close the tank valve. Open the pressure release valve on the keg to blow off the pressure. Open the tank valve, then close it and blow off the pressure again. Repeat 3 times. This removes the air from the keg.

  3. 3

    Open the CO2 tank valve. Leave the pressure at 20 psi. Check for pressure leaks. Leave the system pressurised at 20 psi for 3 days.

  4. 4

    Turn off the gas. Bleed the pressure from the keg. Turn the regulator adjustment down. Open the tank valve and reset the pressure to approximately 10 psi. Open the faucet and draw one glass of beer. Discard this first glass of beer, because it will contain the yeast sediment from the bottom of the keg.

  5. 5

    Draw a second glass of beer, and enjoy.

Tips and warnings

  • If you want to store the filled keg, just close the tank valve and remove the gas connector from the keg. The keg will remain pressurised.

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