Tuesday, October 6, 2009

First Keg

Today marks a historic day for the School Master Brewing Company; the first ever kegging of beer. With a homebrew keg kit from Midwest Supplies, a CO2 tank filling by Womelsdorf Beverage and a 5-gallon batch of Dortmunter Ale I've completed my very first kegging.

After cleaning the "corny" keg with hot water to remove the caustic cleaner used to remove any soda/syrup remnants, the keg was sanitized with Star-San.

I siphoned the beer from the secondary fermenter to the sanitized keg, sealed it and connected the gas in connection.

With the pressure in the keg set to 30 psi the beer will begin to absorb the CO2. This process, known as forced carbonation, should take from two to three days to complete, a far cry from the three to four weeks required for bottle conditioned carbonation.

To bottle condition beer, priming sugar is added to the fermented beer and then it is sealed in bottles. The yeast cells in the beer produce CO2 by metabolizing the added priming sugar and naturally carbonated the beer.

The entire process of kegging, from cleaning to finish, took less than half an hour. In the future, starting with clean kegs that only need to be rinsed and sanitized, this process should taken even less time. When compared to bottling, it is amazing how much faster it is to keg beer.

It typically takes me one to two hours to bottle beer. Remember that a typical 5-gallon batch of beer requires almost three cases of empty, clean and sanitized 12 oz bottles. Since I sterilize my bottles by boiling before filling them, the total time to bottle a single batch can reach several hours. Now that I can clean and sanitize one single keg, the process is exponentially faster.

In two days this Dortmunder Ale should be ready to taste. Cheers!