This week its all about assembling your first homebrew keg draft system. We’ve highlighted some of the parts along the way as John transitions to begging some of his homebrew. This week we make the connections, put a beer in the keg and start the carbonation process.
Getting into begging and starting your first homebrew keg draft system doesn’t need to be that hard. We hope these series of videos take some of the mystery out of the process.
John brewed up a nice Pale Ale for his first kegging run (see recipe below). The beer is fully fermented and ready to move to the keg. We show you in this video assembling all the connectors, adding the tubing and hose clamps. Then we run through purging the keg and setting the pressure for carbonation.
You’ll have to watch the video for the step by step but here are some important tips and highlights:
First off where ever possible I like to use two piece barb and compression fittings. I think these things make life a lot easier if you want to partly disassemble the set up for cleaning or maintenance. You can by disconnects with the hose barbs molded into the plastic, but its often hard to pull cold tubing from the fridge off of the barb should you want to clean something.
Next up, teflon tape. I like to use a little of it on every threaded fitting. Is it absolutely necessary? Probably not, that’s what those flare fittings are designed for. However, once you drain your first tank of CO2 due to a leak in a fitting… well 50 cents for a roll of teflon tape sounds like it was a good idea.
Third, most of these fittings are 1/4 OD (outer diameter). For your gas line tubing choice you can go with 3/16th or 1/4 inch. It really doesn’t matter. As long as it fits on the barb and you can tighten it up with a hose clamp. The diameter of the supply from the regulator to the keg has no bearing on balancing the system and getting a proper poor. I do like to use clear tubing, so I can see if I have gotten beer up into a line or I can see if there is something growing in the line (more common on the beverage side not the gas side).
Forth, we didn’t mention this in the video but don’t over tighten your hose clamps. It is possible to compress the tubing so much against the barb that it kinks up along its diameter just enough to create a leak. That’s why we did a leak check with a spray bottle of star-san. You can use mild dish soap too.
Lastly is setting the regulator for carbonation. After purging the headspace a few times by “burping” the keg, you’ll want to set your regulator to the right PSI. What is the right PSI? Well its based on how “bubbly” you want the beer and what temperature you plan to store/carbonate/serve at. Assuming all three of those temps are the same temp (and for ease…they should be), you need to do a google search carbonation levels for different styles. Then you need to cross that against a carbonation chart. The carbonation chart tells you what PSI at your temperature will equilibrate to your desired level of CO2 (in volumes). I like my beers somewhat mildly carbonated, around 2.0 volumes of CO2. I know in my system that usually means 12-15PSI of pressure.
So that’s the process. John’s beer should be fully carbed in 7-10 days and we’ll check it then and see how it’s coming along. Stay tuned!
Spring Fling American Pale Ale Recipe
Batch size: 5 gallons
Boil size: 6.5 gallons
10 pounds Maris Otter Pale Malt
1 pound Carapils Malt
.5 pound Malted Wheat
.5 ounces Magnum hops – 20 mins.
1 ounce El Dorado hops at flameout
1 ounce Equinox hops at flameout
1 ounce Mosaic hops at flameout
1 ounce Sorachi Ace at flameout
1 ounce Equinox – Dry hopped – 7 days (4 days after fermentation started)
1 packet of Safale 05 dry yeast
1 packet of Danstar Nottingham dry yeast
(Re-hydrated together in a cup of water at 85°F)
9 gms of calcium sulfate added at the start of the boil
1 Whirlfloc tablet – 10 mins to go in boil
Mashed 80 minutes at 150°F
Boiled 60 mins
Fermented for 11 days at 68°F
Cold crashed primary fermentor for 2 days.
Racked to secondary – cold crashed for another 2 days