Kegs!

Posted: January 31, 2014 in Kegging

I distinctly recall saying, perhaps early last year some time, that “I can’t see myself ever moving to kegging”.  I’m one of those (seemingly rare) guys who doesn’t despise bottling, perhaps because I don’t brew all that often or all that much?  A lot of the beers I brewed in the last 6 months or so were ‘small volume’, anywhere between 8 and 14 litres, rather than the ‘usual’ 19-23 litres a lot of home brewers do.  A slab (24) of 330ml stubbies is about 8 litres, and I would normally use some 750ml ‘long necks’ and 500ml european-style  bottles as well, so I was rarely using more than 30 bottles or so for each batch.  And because I’m diligent on cleaning my bottles soon after drinking from them, all they need is a quick squirt of star san on bottling day and they’re ready to fill.

So it wasn’t really convenience behind my recent decision to buy a 3-tap kegerator setup, although I know that drives a lot of home brewers to kegging.  For me, to be perfectly honest, it was pretty much all about the “wow” factor.  It’s just bloody cool having your beer on tap, and even cooler when you can have 3 of your favourites on tap at once.  It all happened pretty quickly…I emailed a couple of my favourite home brew shops, that I knew offered keg setups, and asked them to provide a list of everything I needed.  Interestingly one didn’t even reply, but I wasn’t that worried because their equipment always seems to be 10-20% more expensive than the well priced stores, so I was confident I wouldn’t end up using them anyway.

A couple of stores got back to me within a week or so, and with a bit of back and forth, and a LOT of research via the web, I settled on what I wanted.  A kegerator (basically just a bar fridge big enough to fit three 19l ball lock/Pepsi “corny” kegs), supplied with a premium stainless steel font, and 3 x Perlick 545PC Flow Control taps.  Then a bunch of other necessary accessories to make it all work, such as a 6.8kg co2 cylinder, beer/gas line, clamps and the like.  Here’s a picture of it all set up on my back deck:
IMG-20140127-00083

See, I told you it was cool eh?  So far, much to the disgust of many home brewers and beer drinkers alike I’m sure, I’ve only managed to hook up a keg full of water, and carbonate it to about 10psi, so that I have delicious cold soda water on tap.  Now that might not sound like much to you lot, but it does prove to me that my system works, and I know how to successfully carbonate liquid in a keg….so I’m counting it as a win dammit!

My main problem is of course I didn’t plan this out very well, and I ended up with a schmick new kegerator, and no beer to put in it.  Fear not though, I very quickly brewed up 23 litres of an all grain Kölsch, which is currently fermenting brilliantly at 16C in my brew fridge.  I’ve decided my first three beers on tap will be a Kölsch, a Hefeweizen and an American IPA.  Or more specifically of course, keeping with my tradition of naming all my brews after characters from Austin Powers movies, my “Kensington Kölsch”, my “Frau Farbissina Dunkelweizen”, and my “Random Task IPA”.  I’m doing the Kölsch not only because I’ve always been interested in the style, but also because I’ve read that it’s a great “gateway beer” for European megaswill lager drinkers to move to….and I have a few mates coming over in early March for our fantasy footy (CarnieBowl) draft that are well into Becks/Stella and the like.  The hefe and IPA are ‘coz I bloody love ’em.  The IPA won’t be all that big, I’ll be sticking with “Hop Hog” style numbers of around 5.8% abv, and 50 IBU, which makes it a lot more “sessionable”.

That’s it for now, I’ll update further after kegging the Kölsch, which should be around mid-Feb.

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