This timeless expression beautifully sums up how I feel about the whole kegging process. I loove the fact that I don’t have to raid my neighbors recycling bins in the middle of the night like some kind of really lame cat burglar and store up a massive amount of bottles under my bed. I also like how I don’t have to trick people to come over and start the laboriously boring process of cleaning out and sanitizing 55 old, yeast caked beer bottles. I like how in its place is simply a steel keg and companion CO2 tank. Yahoo! However, the contrary (and sadly so), I have found the magical, wondrous world of kegging isn’t all peaches and cream like I imagined it to be.
When we kegged Chesterfield (the Imperial Pumpkin Ale), we had a brand new shiny keg, CO2 tank and regulator. We cleaned out the keg and sanitized it in a crazy fraction of a time that it would have taken to even clean out that volume of bottles. We were on the right track, set for triumph. The CO2 tank and regulator were attached and… chut, chut, chut, chut, chut. …. the pressure relief valve on the regulator would not close. The CO2 chugged out like a mighty invisible river until we put a cork in it. We checked the connections and couldn’t find anything wrong, so eventually had to chalk it up to a faulty regulator. Luckily, we had an extra regulator (!), so we attached that, and primed it up. Worked like a charm! … until the next morning.
I found the tank with its lid caved in and no pressure left. Argh! The CO2 must have escaped somehow and ran out, leaving the beer open to the elements. So, we executed a series of events, including: buying more co2, buying new o rings, lubing the o rings, getting a new lid and eventually rubbing soap over EVERY bit of connection, tubing and hardware. It wasn’t until this step that we found the culprit – a slightly loose fitting! That was it! A slightly loose fitting caused so much head ache!
We tightened the fitting and FINALLY all of the hardware worked; we would finally have an awesome beer from a keg! … If I knew how to properly adjust the CO2 level against the temp in the fridge. Poop. But its not as bad as it sounds. I set the regulator to the proper level according to the guide, however over night, CO2 tank got cold and its pressure dropped, therefore requiring less CO2 than it was set to to carbonate the beer! In short: without knowing it, temperature became my new enemy and caused me to accidentally over carbonate my beer!
After all of these quarrels, my end result is definitely a great beer that I can drink from a keg – albeit very foamy beer that takes a few minutes to settle down. So, was it all worth it? Is that much work to get it right, worth the amount of work I could save in the future? Well, to know the true answer, I kegged another beer (Balrog 2), and though the regulator turned out to be once again faulty and I didn’t quite get the temperature/CO2 level correct, it WAS a lot easier… so, yeah, sure. I was worth it. And next time even more so!
Kegging isn’t a constant punch in the face – just a big one followed by little scuffs until become the champion kegsmith I was born to be and take my revenge, in effect making the keg mine to control!!!! OOOOh hahahahahaa!. 🙂
Until next time,
-Matt Steiner, Head Brewer