Planning A Kegging Setup

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ballzac

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I'm planning on setting up a keg-system. Reasons? It will make it easier to lager/age. It will give me greater ease of control over carbonation levels. It will save the hassle of bottling. I often don't want a whole bottle of beer, and

it will be good to be able to pour just a small glass without being left with half a bottle of beer. I will be able to make sweet cider or ginger beer for my girlfriend. And, most importantly, it is a bloody cool thing to have.

Anyways, I've been doing my research, but I want to check with people here to make sure I know what I need and where to get it. I also have a few questions.




Refrigeration:

Well, most people just pick up a free fridge/freezer here, or buy a cheap one off ebay. Trouble is, I don't drive and my girlfriend only has a little hatchback with no tow-bar. This makes the logistics a little difficult. Hiring a

ute/van is an option, but given the hassle of organising the timing of hiring the car and picking up the fridge (and making sure my girlfriend is available to drive it as I don't have a license) on the same day - in addition to the cost

- to then end up with a fridge that might not be all that good and might not last that long, I think it would be better to just buy one new and get it delivered.

I think I will buy a chest freezer rather than a fridge. It is looking to be much cheaper to buy a chest freezer that will fit four kegs than a fridge. It is easier to extend the capacity of a chest freezer using wood and insulation.

This way I can get a low chest freezer that will fit 4+ kegs and extend it for height (also providing wood to drill through to fit taps at a later date). I should be able to get a brand new freezer, delivered, for well under $500. Pricey

compared to what most people pay to set up a kegerator/keezer, but I think it is my best option under the circumstances. In addition to this would be the cost of timber to extend the keezer.



Other equipment:

4 19L Cornies Grain and Grape $250
4 Gas line splitters Keg King $40
4 picnic taps Grain and Grape $40
a few metres of BEVA 5mm Grain and Grape $cheap
4 black ball lock (barbed) Keg King $60
4 grey ball lock (barbed) Keg King $60
Gas bottle 2.6kg (full) Keg King $200
Regulator Keg King (or G&G) $90
Temp Controller Keg King $70

All up about $800

It seems that a lot of people get the threaded ball locks, but I don't really see the benefit. If I can disconnect it from the keg and reconnect it to another keg, then I don't see a problem. For eight disconnects, it would be

considerably more expensive to go for the threaded ones including nut and tail. I've noticed in pictures that there is a metal clip (don't know what they're called) that holds the hose onto the barb. Does this come with a barbed connector? Or do I have to get them separately?

I definitely want to get taps and put them through the face of the keezer with a drip tray underneath, but am happy to start with picnic taps that I open the lid to access.

I was originally planning on getting a 6.8kg gas tank from G&G, but I thought that it might be good to get a smaller one, and then later a second small one and be able to swap them over when one is empty. That's what I do with my LPG
bottles. It would be a bit more pricey to get two of the large bottles. Also, the keg king website (http://www.kegking.com.au/gasbottlesandregulators.html) claims that anything larger than 2.6kg is not safe for home use. Their reasoning
makes sense to me. They claim that one of these will carbonate and dispense 180L (~9 cornies). That seems okay to me, although a large tank would be nice.

An alternative to the gas line splitters would be to get a four way gas manifold, but that would be about twice the price. Not sure about the quality of the splitters, but as long as they don't leak then I'm happy, and they are obviously
more customisable.

As far as regs go, I will probably want two, eventually, to make it easier to carb a keg while still be able to dispense others, but I'm happy to start with one. I don't see the point in having two guages as the pressure isn't going to drop in the tank until it is empty anyway, but most seem to have both, so I guess I'll get what's available.

I'm not a person who has a lot of money lying around, so this will be a huge expenditure for me. I may start with just one keg and one of everything else required. This will make the initial outlay lower, but will increase the cost of the kegs. It should be easy to upgrade, especially if I use the line splitters. I really want to make sure I get all this right, without ending up with a whole lot of stuff I don't need or can't use.

If any of you guys have any advice on this stuff it would be much appreciated. Thanks :)
 

raven19

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That is a fair old list.

I would be simplifying things personally for the initial setup:

4 keg pack - $200 (craftbrewer) - another sponsor from above
2 party taps (no need for 4 - especially if you are going to get fixed taps eventually. Quick disconnect means easy move from keg 2 to keg 3/4 (for example)
3 T pieces
Beer line (get the good stuff only a few dollars more)
JG Quick disconnects (4 gas in, 2 beer out - beer outs included in party taps if bought whole)
Basic single reg

I would hire a gas bottle - can always buy one later
Temp control - the fridge should keep a good temp without need of a controller

The above saves you a fair bundle imo.

Keep an eye in the local rag for fridges/freezers (fridge means no temp control for now - can then move that to the lagering/fermenting fridge in time....when ready for a chesty for 2nd gen keg setup)

This should save you some dollars easing the first step into kegging.

I would recommend the JG type disconnects - so easy to use and change as required.

Cheers!
 

ballzac

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4 keg pack - $200 (craftbrewer) - another sponsor from above
I often look at their website. I figured that postage to Melbourne would probably more than offset any savings, particularly on something as big as a keg.


2 party taps (no need for 4 - especially if you are going to get fixed taps eventually. Quick disconnect means easy move from keg 2 to keg 3/4 (for example)
This is a great point. In fact, I guess I could get away with just one, depending on how long I am going to have to wait for proper taps.


3 T pieces
About the same price as the line splitters, but probably much more durable. Hadn't looked at these before, thanks for mentioning it.


I would hire a gas bottle - can always buy one later
A couple of years hiring almost adds up to the price of buying one. I think this is one thing that is worth getting up-front.


Keep an eye in the local rag for fridges/freezers (fridge means no temp control for now - can then move that to the lagering/fermenting fridge in time....when ready for a chesty for 2nd gen keg setup)
If you mean the classifieds or whatever, then I have the same problem as ebay. As far a fridge vs. freezer, I think that freezer+temp control will work out cheaper than a fridge.





Thanks for the advice :) I think you've saved me some ca$h
 

ballzac

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Quick disconnect means easy move from keg 2 to keg 3/4 (for example)
Does this mean you can't just do this with the normal ball-lock side of the connector? Obviously the side where the tubing attaches to the disconnect is not easy to change if it's a barb type, but can't you just pull the disconnect off the keg?
 

shazzam

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I am lucky enough to have a set up - I will warn you right now - buy a brand name Co2 Regulator - A micromatic for preference (alsoo repairable) or a tesuco - I have a cheap chinese version which came with my kegerator and it makes small adjustments extremely painful.

After a LOT of research (currently in the market for another 4 - 6 kegs) market price for Kegs is about $60 with renewed seals (either already done or a seal kit with it ) - I couldnt find the 4 kegs for $200 from craft brewer but they have a 4 keg pack plus seal kit for $240 with free delivery which is now very tempting.

Have fun and enjoy the ride ! Its good fun and not as complex as it seems to keg (I keg my short term beers of 50 litres and still put some of the small batches in bottles)
 

raven19

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Yeah sorry Ross had a 4 pack special over xmas for $200. I was living in the past!

Quick disconnects - JG type like This.

However a party tap will come with a beer out (black) barbed typed. No problem for the party tap. The party tap beer line will be slightly larger in diameter making it easier to get over the barb.

And, yes you can still simply unplug the disconnect from the keg post - regardless of type (barbed or JG).

Then just buy a couple of JG style when time to add fixed taps to your fridge.
 

hoohaaman

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Ross still has a 4 keg special with seals for $240 to the door.

As for gas buy a bottle outright.I dicked around for numerous years hiring gas,until I had a massive dispute with Liquid air billing.Treated like dirt.Save yourself hassle buy up front and never deal with these parasites.

As Raven has said, buy JG fittings versatile and easy to swap and use throughout your brewery.

With shazzam on the reg.I have a micromatic,have put that much beer through it,it should be dead.A quick strip down and clean up has it like new.I have had it for over 10 years and still haven't replaced a part.But I always stripped it for a clean as soon I knew beer had entered.Mainly years ago when learning the kegging game ;)
 

ballzac

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I have decided to go with the JG fittings as I trust you guys know what you're talking about, and I will start with a fridge/freezer big enough for four kegs, but will only get other equipment for one keg to begin with. I'm thinking that getting a manifold instead of tee pieces when I upgrade may be worthwhile...unless there is another way to actually control the flow of gas? I've worked out that I will spend about a grand all up for a system with one keg including gas, and a freezer that fits four kegs. If the freezer is high enough on the side where there is no bump where the compressor is, then I will be able to get away without buying timber yet. Thanks for the advice on the regs guys, I will definitely go for quality there. If I want two different pressures from one tank, can I hook up something like a tee piece on the high pressure side of the reg and have two separate regs, or do I need to buy a dual reg to begin with if I expect to be using one?

Thanks for all the help. I'm getting excited about this :)
 

raven19

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Not stalking you, just thought of a few other items. :icon_cheers:

Add this just downstream of your Regulator gas line - will save your reg - non return valve - well worth the money imo.

Instead of a manifold, you can use a series of T pieces in line with a JG style ball valve - like the ones halfway down this page - here. I use these in various applications at home often.

For two different pressures of gas, you will need a dual reg unfortunately.

I just use one reg with no issues - I got a micromatic from Ross a few years ago now. Works a treat.

Edit - I meant one reg - and same pressure for all beer types regardless of type, ales, lagers, etc... all the same carbonation at my place! :rolleyes:
 

ballzac

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Okay, it's all coming together. I have a fridge I bought from citymorgue2 that is already setup as a kegerator, including a tap. It looks like it should hold 3, if not 4, cornies. I will use the installed tap for one keg, and have a picnic tap for each of the other two or three.

After researching, I think your suggestion of a non return valve is warranted, so I am definitely getting one. I'm getting the micromatic reg as per the recommendations from you guys, and I discovered that you CAN add an attachment to effectively convert the single reg to a dual reg: http://www.craftbrewer.com.au/shop/details.asp?PID=974

The main reason I may want dual pressure is so that I can dispense one keg and force carb another at the same time, but quite happy to do without for the moment. When the fridge dies, or I have spare cash, I still plan on buying a brand new freezer, as it would be nice to build a keezer that will last and look good. :) Thanks for the help guys :)
 

ballzac

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It's all happening now. The results are honestly beyond my wildest dreams. I didn't realise a beer could pour this nicely without being served from a cask or on nitrogen. :icon_drool2: I was a little impatient and my pale ale (yes the photo came out a bit dark) is still a little cloudy, but tastes beautiful. Picking up a couple more kegs and bits and pieces later this week and will have my oatmeal stout in there soon, and my munich dunkel cold conditioning. (Might forgo true lagering on that one due to the fact that I don't have another fridge to do it in and don't want to serve my other beers at <1C. Might turn it down a little from 7.5C to 5C or something though :unsure:

Anyway, thanks again for all the help. I think I would've wrecked my reg five times over already if I didn't have the non-return valve, lol.

:icon_cheers:
 

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