Brew Dudes

Homebrewing blog and resource

Assembling Your First Homebrew Keg Draft System

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

Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap Exchange 3

Another week. Another swapped beer tasting.  This time we dive into a Mosaic and Citra focused IPA brewed by Brewella Deville. We sent her some of John’s Vienna Lager and you can check out her post on the beer as well.

For this Brew Dudes Hombrew Swap Exchange 3 we got a little West Coast IPA tutelage. Brewella sent us a very nice very clean IPA bittered with Columbus and the seasoned well with Mosaic and Citra. We’ve been playing with these types of hops a lot ourselves recently. Mike has been edging himself towards that “juicy” East Coast style as well. So it was nice to see a similar play on that hop flavor and aroma forward take on IPA. Brewella also scores some points for throwing WLP013 London Ale yeast in there. Something that most American IPA brewers would never attempt to use English yeast this way but it seems to be a quiet trick to that “juicy” character.

Whatever your stand on this emerging East Coast IPA debate is, a simple and well brewed IPA is still just a great IPA. Brewella’s beer did not disappoint. 2-row, munich and a touch of crystal 10L and 20L lend a great subtle malt backbone to this brew. The color pushes the darker end of the IPA style, but I rather really prefer a light copper colored ale myself. Makes me thing some efforts been put into the grain bill outside of a 50/50 pils/2-row base.

The columbus bittering charge delivers just north of 40IBU. To low for an IPA you say? Well get with the program. Super battering is out and hop flavor and aroma with late additions is the way to go with this take on IPA. Mosaic and Citra charges spread over 10 minutes, flame out and dry hopping do not disappoint. Fruity, floral, sweet and dare I say juicy? Now is this over the top like some of the gravy slash OJ like styles popping up here in the North East? No. But I think it strikes a nice balance somewhere between the two coasts.

Enough hop flavor and aroma to set the hops off, but not an overwhelming fruit experience either. Nicely balanced and incredibly drinkable. Perhaps this East Coast style will refine itself to something more like Brewella’s example. (Heresy for some I know.)

I have to mention before the end, I loved the notes Brewella sent to us on water usage. 75% RO, 25% tap and a touch of gypsum and sulfate. Clearly well thought out and what I hope is a continual process of improvement for her. Brewing, tweaking and re-brewing. It works here and made for a well balanced drinking experience. I thought the overall impression of the beer was great. I’d like to drink a couple more in that West Coast sun talking about water salts! What you don’t discuss water salts while drinking?

Thanks Brewella for the beer! And thanks for participating in our little homebrew swap exchange experiment.


Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap Exchange 2

Its our second tasting video of beer sent in by some of our loyal followers from our YouTube Channel. This week we taste a great beer from Damien Osbourne! He sent us in a great American Amber with a touch of Rye in it. Check out the video for a review of this great beer.

American Amber from extract with a pound of crystal rye.
0.5 oz of Columbus at 30 minutes.
1oz of Cascade at Flame out.

This is a great example of simple brewing made great by a couple keep ingredient and process decisions coupled with great care and expertise in the fermentation phase. Damien is an normally and all grain brewer but put together this beer in extract format, just because he could. We thought it was absolutely great.

There was a wonderful malt presence that was very well fermented. Dried out enough to let the simple hop bill carry the beer. The usage of the crystal rye really makes a great bridge between the hops and the extract malt bill. The beer was nearly crystal clear with no sediment in the bottle indicating a possible keg fill. I wondered if the beer had been filtered.

The yeast on this brew was WYEAST 1450 which is Denny’s Favorite Yeast from no other than Denny Conn. This yeast is a great attenuator (which works very well with extract brews to make sure they dry out enough) and this yeast really helps the hops shine, something very important with such a small hopping regime.

We both loved this beer. Thanks Damien for sending it out to us. Damien asked us to help him put it into a style category with BJCP. I figure that straight up American Amber (19A 2015 BJCP) would be the best place. The rye character isn’t that strong, but its present enough that it simply enhances that simple hop bill.

Damien also sent us a little bonus. He sent us a bottle of local (to him) BBQ sauce. It was a jalapeño infused tomato based sauce. We tried it off camera and really loved it. Maybe we’ll have to do something non-beer related with it in a future video. Thanks so much for the sauce Damien. Cheers!

Like these viewer tasting videos? Leave us a comment below and jump over to the youtube page. Like that video and subscribe to our channel please.


Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap Exchange 1

Our man Derek Springer at Five Blades Brewing, was the first to answer the call to do a beer swap. Derek sent us a great Vienna Lager. John sent out one of his own. We taste them side by side this week. Its Brew Dudes Homebrew Swap Exchange #1!!!

Vienna Lager is a quiet style that doesn’t get much airplay. Namely because you just don’t see a lot of commercial examples. Some of the most classic examples commercial come from Mexico of all places. I was always under the impression that beers like Dos Equis and Negro Modelo were Vienna Lagers. A quick look at the 2015 BJCP doesn’t even list these as examples anymore… go figure.

Any how many of our dedicated readers will know that John has done quite well with his Vienna recipe. This time he brewed it with a combo of the Mexican Lager yeast strain and a more traditional Lager strain. This beer has a subtle toasty malt aroma with a hint of nobel hop character.

Derek’s homebrew was very similar with a slightly more fruity presence and somewhat cleaner over all than John’s. Both had a great malt flavor carried with that gentle noble hop character. The dividing difference between the two was Derek’s use of a touch of melanoidin vs. John’s light hand with the Munich malt. I found both homebrews to be pretty interesting and hard to pull apart. I would certainly drink 2-3 pints of either. I can’t say that I liked one over the other. (Maybe that’s a cop out being our first publicized exchange.) I will say that they are both excellent examples. I was amazed that the color of both was so spot on with each other. Both brilliantly clear. Interesting to see the color so close and being achieved by slightly different routes in the recipe. Derek’s Vienna Recipe Page

If we never do another exchange again, I’ll be vary happy to say we did this one.
Good thing for you dear reader is that we have more coming.

Want to get involved. Want to try some Brew Dudes homebrew and swap some with us? Keep checking in as we’ll announce another swap in the near future.

In the meantime, BREW ON!

Keg Parts Checklist

The road towards your first draft beer at home is filled with little bits and bobs. Tubing, clamps, faucets and more. This week we take a look a the keg parts checklist and John reviews what’s hopefully his final purchases towards putting the whole system together for that first draft beer.

One nice surprise in this process regards John’s CO2 tank purchase. We discovered that an old homebrew shop of ours now does tank exchanges in the shop. This is great. Up to this point I was taking my empties to a local large commercial specialty gas shop and doing a tank swap with them. Now that this homebrew shop is doing that leg work for us that cuts out the now homebrew related stop. And while I am sure they charge slightly more than what I get my swap for, I’d rather see the money go to an LHBS than a non-homebrew related business.

After the expense of the tank the regulator is the next more expensive piece. John’s new regulator is a typical dual stage style. He was going to get a safety cage like I recommended, but the dude at the shop was confused and he didn’t grab one when he was putting John’s stuff together. Next time John says.

So aside from 7 feet of 3/16th ID tubing, disconnects and hose clamps John is ready to go. Next time we do a keggin video we will put all the stuff together and set the system up. We’ll show how to clean it, and get it ready for beer. Then we’ll show the set and forget carbonation process and how it progresses. All that’s left is for John to figure out what beer to put in there for the first run!


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