There comes a time when most home brewers decide that bottling their home brew is more of a hassle than it is worth. Cleaning the bottles, capping, and filling each bottle individually can be quite tedious. Fortunately, there is a wonderful alternative to bottling - kegging beer!
Before you start kegging beer, you will need to set up a kegging system. You will need a keg, a filled CO2 tank, a pressure regulator, and two hoses. These are easy to find at homebrew shops or online. You can buy the parts separately or get them as a kit. If you are new to kegging beer, a kit is probably the best bet. Expect to spend two hundred dollars or less.
Cleanliness is extremely important when kegging beer. Even the slightest bit of bacteria can ruin an entire batch of home brew. Be sure to thoroughly clean and sanitize your keg with a sanitizing solution that is safe for stainless steel. Don’t forget to clean and sanitize the hoses as well.
Carefully siphon your home brew from the fermenter. Avoid splashing the beer as it will add unwanted oxygen to the brew. After filling the keg, put the top on. Then, pressurize the keg with CO2. Next, release air through the release valve. Do this about five times, or until you are sure that all of the air in the keg has been replaced by CO2. Unless it develops a leak, the keg can be stored for several months without a problem.
To ensure carbonation, the keg needs to be refrigerated and stored under pressure. Many home brewers store their kegs in a spare refrigerator. To determine the carbonation temperature, put a thermometer in the fridge. Calculate the amount of carbonation using a carbonation calculator, which will use the desired CO2 volume, the refrigerator temperature, and the volume of beer to give you the proper pressure needed to carbonate your home brew. Set your CO2 regulator to the calculated pressure, hook it up and refrigerate the keg. Within a couple of days, your beer will begin to carbonate. Give it a week to fully carbonate.
After your home brew is fully carbonated, it’s time to taste it. Adjust the CO2 regulator if your beer is either too carbonated or too flat.
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