Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Observations on Kegging

I have been holding off on writing about my kegging system until I understand it more, but I do have some observations.

1. Pressure, line length, height of faucet from keg, altitude and temperature are a lot of variables to deal with when drinking.
2. You can get drunk on only foam.

I am still figuring out how to adjust my kegging system, and with so many variables, it is hard to only change one variable a day to see what the effects are.  I have kept the temperature at 40 degrees (actually, low for both lagers and ales, but bars serve American lager colder) and my line lengths for the commercial tap at 8 feet and the homebrewed wheat beer on my 5' cobra (think of keggers from college....that black plastic tap) faucet line.  I have figured out that the 5 footer pours nicely at about 8 psi, but 8 psi at 40 degrees at 5,000 feet above sea level is less than 2 volumes of CO2.  A wheat beer should have 2.5 to 3.0 volumes.  The brown ale pours nicely at about 12 psi, at 8 foot of beer line, and about 2.2 volumes.  The problem I have with the commercial brown guess is that the beer came from the brewery way overcarbonated for my system.  The other problem I have is that the faucet sticking through the wood collar causes the beer in the back of the faucet and the end of the beer line to warm, so the first pint or two at a time is foamy.  This means that unless I have a friend over, my first and only beer is fairly foamy.  I am patient, but I have been trying to see if there is a way to improve the first pour.  Right now, I get a pretty good pour for the third pint (or more when pouring less).

I have tried a number of different pressures, but I think that I may try a higher pressure but warmer temperature.  I have not yet tried this yet.  A warmer temp means that less CO2 can be suspended in the liquid at any given temperature.  So, to maintain the volumes of CO2 that I have been working with, I will have to increase the pressure coming from the tank.  It is my figure that if I raise the temp of the ales into the 50's and increase the pressure to compensate, the temperature differential between the inside of the keggerator and my basement is less, and I will get a better pour.  This obviously works for ales, but not necessarily for lagers that are supposed to be stored and served cold (Oktoberfest Lager is our next beer....when we finally get to it).

I have a hard time throwing away the foam, from a first and second pour, so I have chugged it....causing inebriation from 2 pints of foam and then a pint of beer.  Self education is a tough path.

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