Korny Keggin’

After bottling about 100 batches, I finally made the leap to kegging. Cornelius kegs ( aka korny ) offer the homebrewer a convenient and fast way of cooperage. You’ll need to get a kegerator or convert the old fridge with a wall mounted faucet or two as well as gas distribution lines. The process of kegging turns out to be easier than you think.

Korny kegs are available online and homebrew shops in new or used condition. New ones are nice if you could afford them or picking up some used ones will work just fine if you perform some minor rebuilding. I prefer the ball-lock fittings since they seem easier to use. Always replace the o-rings and also have an extra set of them and poppets on hand in case some get damaged. Keg lube is another item you will need. Have the keg and all the pieces clean and stored away so it will be ready on kegging day.

Prepare the keg for filling by first putting all the little pieces and lid in a bowl of Star San (SS) solution. Coat the small 0-rings with some keg lube and slide them onto the short and long dip tubes and place them in the respective holes of the keg with the small in the “in” port and the long tube in the “out” port. Apply a thin film of lube to the tips of the poppets and drop them in the keg fittings and loosely apply to the keg with the notched one on the gas side and the smooth one on the beer side. As you turn them to tighten be carefull to see that the poppet is centered in the fitting hole. This is important since you want it to seat right so there are no leaks later. If they don’t center right while twisting them on clockwise, then back off a little and watch as the poppet lines up dead center. Once you have them snug, tighten with an 11/16″ open end wrench or the larger fittings with a 7/8″ socket wrench. It’s tight when they seem to just stop, not like wrenching down on some lag bolts in wood. Apply a thin coat of lube to the relief valve seal and insert into the lid and tighten. Lube the large gasket, fit it on the lid and return setup the SS bowl. Fill the keg with cold water and put in 1 oz. of SS, secure with lid then give it a little shake. It’s now ready for the next step.
Attach CO2 hose and charge the korney keg that’s full of SS solution. Use a faucet attachment on the “out” side to empty contents.
Collect as much as you like of the 5 Gal. SS solution into containers as you push the SS out of the korny as it fills with CO2. The keg is now sanitized and purged of oxygen. Check for leaks that will show up as tiny bubbles on the fittings.

Assemble racking cane and tubing and transfer the beer into the korny. Fit on the lid and hook up the gas line as you prepare to carbonate the beer.
Carbonation levels differ with many styles of beer so determine how much you are aiming for. These levels are measured in volumes of CO2 dissolved in the liquid. Consult a chart with Temperature of Beer to Pounds per Square Inch Applied. After cold-conditioning my beer in the fridge for awhile and transfering it to the keg I usually end up with a Temperature of 44F in the keg. Checking the chart shows that @ 44F and a pressure of 18 psi yields 2.81 atmospheres which I find works well with most of my homebrews.

Once you have determined the carbonation level desired, set the regulator and begin shaking the keg. Sit down on a chair with the horizontal keg on a towel on your lap and while firmly holding it begin a rocking motion to facilitate the dissolving of the gas into the beer. Hold it so the “in” valve is up. You’ll hear a growling noise at first as the gas disperses into the liquid. This will quiet down as time goes on. I find rocking for 15 to 20 minutes is sufficient to reach the full carbonation level desired.
The carbonated beer is now ready, you can sample some now but it’ll be foamy. It’s best to let it settle a day or two in the fridge so it can reach an equilibrium. Before hooking up the gas line relieve some pressure so beer doesn’t back up the gas line. If it did then clean and sanitize the hose to prevent contamination.  Be sure to have a check valve installed to help prevent backups.
You are now ready to enjoy your first kegged homebrew !

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