Kegging

Nothing beats pouring a cold frosty glass of your own beer on tap, ready whenever you are – kegging is easy too ; when you know how.

image of a Kegerator for kegging

Kegerator

Kegging systems cover a diverse range of setups, from a single keg and beer gun in a fridge/freezer to full kegerator setups

They all have in common a few simple components

  • Kegs
    Sample kegs for kegging

    New and used ball lock kegs

  • Taps
  • Gas (usually CO2)
    CO2 Cylinders for kegging

    CO2 cylinders

  • Regulator
    Image of a CO regulator for kegging

    2 gauge CO2 regulator

It is easiest to understand Kegged beer when you break it down into  seperate parts

  1. Carbonation
  2. Balancing
  3. Dispensing

Part 1

Carbonation is about getting the correct amount of CO2 dissolved into the beer. At the correct temperature (usually our serving temperature) beer will readily absorb co2 supplied via a cylinder and regulator . The amount of gas absorbed depends on both the temperature of the liquid and pressure applied. Change either one and you change the equilibrium point.
Many of the beers we commonly drink have around 2.5 volumes of gas, but can range from 1.5 to 3.5 or more in some other styles. Kegging makes it easy to hit exactly the carbonation level required for the chosen beer style.

Take a beer of 2.5 volumes, this means that for each litre of beer there is 2.5 litres of gas in solution!

Looking at the chart below, if we have a beer at around 2 celsius and set our regulator to 10 psi we will have a perfectly carbonated beer without any intervention in just a few days. This is much less time than it will take to mature the beer. Once we have our gas in the beer at the correct level we need to keep it there, so the equilibrium pressure has to be maintained so don’t change the pressure.

Be warned, some will tell you to ramp your pressure up to 30psi or more ! This is unnecessary and will lead to over carbonated beers that foam uncontrollably, not the enjoyable experience it should be.

Typical Carbonation Levels In Volumes Of CO2 For Various Beer Styles

Australian and Japanese Lagers and Wheat Beers 2.4 – 3.0

British-Style ales 1.5 – 2.0 Porter/Stout 1.7 – 2.3

Belgian Ales 1.9 – 2.4 European Lagers 2.2 – 2.7

American Ales/Lagers 2.2 – 2.7 Lambic 2.4 – 2.8

Fruit Lambic 3.0 – 4.5 German Wheat 3.3 – 4.5

Check out part 2 here Balancing beer line or part 3 Dispense

Kegging equilibrium chart

Pressure (Psi)
TEMP 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Pressure (Kpa)
F C 6.9 13.8 20.7 27.6 34.5 41.4 48.3 55.2 62.1 69 75.9 82.8 89.7 96.6 104 110 117 124 131 138 145 152 159 166 173 179 186 193
30 -1.1 1.82 1.92 2.03 2.14 2.23 2.36 2.48 2.60 2.70 2.82 2.93 3.02
31 -0.6 1.78 1.88 2.00 2.10 2.20 2.31 2.42 2.54 2.65 2.76 2.86 2.96
32 0.0 1.75 1.85 1.95 2.05 2.15 2.27 2.38 2.48 2.59 2.70 2.80 2.90 3.00
33 0.6 1.81 1.91 2.01 2.10 2.23 2.33 2.43 2.53 2.63 2.74 2.84 2.96
34 1.1 1.78 1.86 1.97 2.06 2.18 2.28 2.38 2.48 2.58 2.69 2.79 2.90 3.00
35 1.7 1.83 1.93 2.02 2.14 2.24 2.34 2.43 2.52 2.63 2.73 2.83 2.93 3.02
36 2.2 1.79 1.88 1.98 2.09 2.19 2.29 2.38 2.47 2.57 2.67 2.77 2.86 2.96
37 2.8 1.84 1.94 2.04 2.14 2.24 2.33 2.42 2.52 2.62 2.71 2.80 2.90 3.00
38 3.3 1.80 1.90 2.00 2.10 2.20 2.29 2.38 2.48 2.57 2.66 2.75 2.85 2.94
39 3.9 1.86 1.96 2.06 2.15 2.25 2.34 2.43 2.52 2.61 2.70 2.80 2.89 2.98
40 4.4 1.83 1.92 2.01 2.10 2.20 2.30 2.39 2.47 2.56 2.65 2.75 2.84 2.93 3.01
41 5.0 1.88 1.97 2.06 2.16 2.25 2.34 2.43 2.52 2.60 2.70 2.79 2.88 2.96
42 5.6 1.85 1.94 2.02 2.12 2.21 2.30 2.39 2.48 2.56 2.65 2.74 2.83 2.91 3.00
43 6.1 1.90 1.99 2.08 2.17 2.26 2.34 2.43 2.52 2.61 2.69 2.78 2.86 2.95
44 6.7 1.87 1.95 2.04 2.13 2.22 2.30 2.39 2.47 2.56 2.64 2.73 2.81 2.90 2.99
45 7.2 1.84 1.91 2.00 2.08 2.17 2.26 2.34 2.42 2.51 2.60 2.69 2.77 2.86 2.94 3.02
46 7.8 1.88 1.96 2.04 2.13 2.22 2.30 2.38 2.47 2.55 2.64 2.72 2.81 2.89 2.98
47 8.3 1.84 1.92 2.00 2.09 2.18 2.26 2.34 2.42 2.50 2.59 2.67 2.76 2.84 2.93 3.02
48 8.9 1.89 1.96 2.05 2.14 2.22 2.30 2.38 2.46 2.54 2.62 2.71 2.79 2.88 2.96
49 9.4 1.86 1.93 2.01 2.10 2.18 2.25 2.34 2.42 2.50 2.58 2.67 2.75 2.83 2.91 3.00
50 10.0 1.82 1.90 1.98 2.06 2.14 2.21 2.30 2.38 2.46 2.54 2.62 2.70 2.78 2.86 2.94 3.02
51 10.6 1.87 1.95 2.02 2.10 2.18 2.26 2.34 2.42 2.49 2.57 2.65 2.74 2.82 2.90 2.97
52 11.0 1.84 1.92 1.99 2.06 2.14 2.22 2.30 2.38 2.45 2.53 2.61 2.68 2.76 2.84 2.92 3.00
53 11.7 1.81 1.89 1.96 2.03 2.10 2.18 2.26 2.34 2.41 2.49 2.57 2.64 2.71 2.79 2.86 2.94 3.01
54 12.2 1.86 1.93 2.00 2.07 2.15 2.22 2.30 2.37 2.45 2.52 2.59 2.66 2.74 2.81 2.89 2.96
55 12.8 1.82 1.89 1.97 2.04 2.12 2.18 2.26 2.33 2.40 2.47 2.54 2.62 2.69 2.76 2.83 2.89 2.97
56 13.3 1.86 1.93 2.00 2.08 2.15 2.22 2.29 2.36 2.43 2.50 2.57 2.64 2.71 2.78 2.85 2.92 2.99
57 13.9 1.83 1.90 1.97 2.04 2.11 2.18 2.25 2.32 2.39 2.46 2.53 2.60 2.66 2.73 2.80 2.87 2.94
58 14.4 1.87 1.94 2.01 2.08 2.15 2.21 2.28 2.35 2.42 2.48 2.55 2.62 2.69 2.75 2.82 2.88