Kegging: My First Go Around

I. HATE. BOTTLING. After a few years of delaying (and ultimately ruining) the occasional batch of beer or cider due to lack of desire, and in some instances time to bottle, I determined that it was time to get into kegging. Used 5-gallon pop kegs, both Pin Lock, and Ball Lock fitting types, can be found for $60 or less – and I happened to catch a sale from homebrewing.org to get a used pin lock keg, regulator, quick disconnects, picnic tap, and lines for about $125. It was at the house in about three days – I got everything setup, but then had an issue with the regulator, and a leaky line. Everything else seemed like it was in good shape though – the keg was obviously used as you’ll see below, but it was relatively clean other than some scuffs. The beer needed to either get Kegged or bottled, and since I have two batches so close together, I just don’t have enough bottles at the moment.. I used the trusty fallback ordering system to get a different regulator until I could get ahold of someone with the site I ordered it from – Amazon Prime for $45 with a gas line, quick disconnect, and clamps, and had it on my doorstep in a day and a half.  

**Sidebar to the post here: Big thank you to the homebrewing.org customer service department – within 2 hours of messaging them my problem, and explaining that I had gone somewhere else to purchase a regulator because I needed one on a time table, I had a prepaid shipping label, and a pending credit in my account for these items. This site credit is wholly going towards another keg, because after how easy this whole process was, I never want to go back to only bottling.**  

While waiting, I took this time to get the keg filled with PBW, let it sit overnight, dumped it out, and did it one more time. When I got home from work the next day, I hooked in the regulator and the picnic tap, pumped the sanitizer through it, and we were good to go! It was time to sample to see which one would be the inaugural kegger. 

(Please ignore the mess in this photo above) I started by opening the conical fermenter – this was the batch that I had to restart the yeast, the white labs just didn’t take, so I made a dextrose based simple syrup mixture and pitched some SafAle dry yeast. After 12 days of hoping it worked, it was time to look at this and I was shocked. It fermented down to about 1.011 from its initial 1.037, sitting at 3.41% ABV – which is a nice change from some of the 7-8% things I normally make. The flavor was not quite what I was going for, too hoppy for the style I was looking at, but it’s delicious for sure.  

I pulled a sample off the spigot of the blood orange batch and was really excited by the flavor – the west coast ale yeast really seemed to play nice with the blood orange (adding bitterness to a very lightly hopped beer). While its gravity reading was sitting at 1.014, from its OG of 1.05 (meaning 4.73% ABV), it still has a little more time to sit and mellow out. It’s been sitting about 9-10 days; I think it could use another 1 or 2 to finish out, and we will get it bottled later this week. Conical won the inaugural kegging, so it was time to get syphoning. 

When our local CountryMax decided to get out of homebrewing ingredients, I cleared out everything they had on the shelves when it hit 75% off – so in that mess of stuff I wound up with a nice new syphon – only downside was that it happened to have a shorter hose than I thought once I started, so I had to elevate my keg a bit to get everything flowing nicely. 

Once it was filled, leaving about ½ Gallon of head space – that was about my loss due to sediment in the fermenter anyways, I carried it to the CO2 tank, hit it with about 30 PSI of pressure, and rolled it around the floor for about 15-20 mins to infuse the CO2 and carbonate it. I then let it sit for about 10 more minutes, depressurized it, and pumped it to 13 PSI. I let it flow for a second into the sink, and then poured one to drink.  

I think this may be my best homebrew to date – not the one I’m submitting for our local contest, but a make again for sure, now that I think I have my mash skills down. Now to get the other one bottled, and wait that two week conditioning time to actually be able to sample it…

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