Kegging your homebrew

Home brewed beer in kegs for convenience.

If you have been home brewing for any length of time you must have realized bottling is a time consuming task standing between you and your beer.  While the process of making homebrew can be fun, there is only one way to ease the pain of bottling:

Homebrew Kegging- the easiest way to get your beer ready for consumption.

It usually takes only a dozen or so batches of beer to make any home brewer start looking into kegs.  With kegging you go from cleaning and filling dozens of bottles to just one.  Not only does this reduce your work, but it also means you will be able to serve beer like the pros do, on draft in your own house.  The equipment you will need is readily available online as starter kegging kits containing all the parts you need.  Or if you prefer to do it yourself, you can find most of the supplies locally and order just those parts that are harder to find.

The Keg:

The first thing you will need is obvious, an empty keg.  The most popular and easiest style to use for homebrew is the Cornelius keg.  These have been used for many years by the soda industry and feature a lid that comes off for easy cleaning and filling.  Two styles of Cornelius kegs are available, pin lock and ball lock.  Both are suitable for homebrew use, but you need to ensure that all of your gas lines and liquid lines are fitted with the correct adaptor for each type.  We have put together a list of online sources for kegs and fittings.

The Fridge and Tap:

After your beer is in the keg, you will need a way to serve it.  There are a few options that range widely in cost for your consideration.  The easiest are draft beer refrigerators that will keep 2-4 Cornelius kegs cool and feature a tower tap and drip tray built right into the top.  A less expensive (and more popular) technique is to use or purchase an older refrigerator and install beer faucets through the door or side using large threaded beer shanks.  One of the least expensive alternatives is to store your beer in your refrigerator or to expand the capacity of a small “dorm” fridge by removing the door and building an insulated wooden box with a top opening door.  Then you can use a simple picnic tap to serve your beer without drilling any holes in the refrigerator.  If you have a chest freezer handy, you can use a freezer temperature controller to maintain appropriate beer serving temps.

Carbon Dioxide:

In order to dispense the beer you will need to apply pressurized carbon dioxide to the keg.  You can easily rent CO2 cylinders from your local welding supply shop, and they should also have the correct regulator available as well.  Alternatively, you can purchase your own from a local welding or beverage shop, or online.  You can also use the CO2 to carbonate your beer if you would rather not wait for priming sugar.  A fresh keg can be ready to drink in as little as 24 hours using a carbon dioxide stone installed in a keg and force carbonating the homebrew.

Fitting and Hoses:

Lastly you will need hoses for beer and gas, hose clamps to ensure airtight junctions, and keg fittings to fit your keg style.  Again, most of these can be found in your local hardware store but by far the easiest way is to purchase them from a reputable online merchant who will have every oddball fitting you could ever need.