Kegging and transporting kegged beer.
September 4, 2009 5:14 PM   Subscribe

I am going to keg my homebrew for the first time and take it to a friend's wedding. I have the CO2 system set up and I have checked it for leaks and practiced with H20. Everything is set to go. I need some help about what do next however, because I have to transport the beer twice and I don't have a fridge to keep the beer in (my plan is a cooler and ice). Here's the scenario: Beer is ready to be kegged, the wedding at which it will be served is in 14 days. The beer is in a carboy two hours away from my home and I will need to transport it to my home this week before the wedding. Then, two days before the wedding I will need to transport it from my home 5 hours away to the wedding. What would you do?

From my understanding it takes about a week for the carbonation to form in the beer with the pressure set at 12-15. Once I put C02 in the beer do I need to keep it cold continuously until the wedding? What would you do? Transport the beer the first time in the carboy, keg it a few days before the wedding and then transport it to the wedding in the keg in a cooler? Wait to keg it until I get to the Wedding? If I do transport it in the keg, should I turn off the gas and detach the hose. . will it keep its carbonation? A lot of this hinges on whether I need to keep it cold once the co2 has been added or if it can sit at about 65* in my basement.
posted by Packy_1962 to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know about home brew but commercial beer in kegs does not need to be refrigerated. We store dozens of kegs for up to two weeks at a time at warmish room temperatures before chilling and tapping.

It does however take a considerable amount of time to chill a kegs worth of beer. A couple days should be enough though if the facility has refrigeration available.
posted by Mitheral at 5:44 PM on September 4, 2009

Keg it up as soon as is convenient -- like this weekend, and where it is. Sloshing beer in a carboy can introduce oxygen and can also make a big damn mess. Keep gas on it until you have to take it to the wedding. Instead of sticking it in your basement, I'd get in touch with a local liquor store or brewpub and ask to use their cold storage facility for a week or so in exchange for a few bucks. If you find such a place to store your beer, mark your keg very clearly.

I guess you could keep the gas on it while in transit, but that shouldn't be necessary. Just put it in your cooler and pour a bag or two of ice around it. Take the gas along with you to the wedding and hook it up when you get there.
posted by cog_nate at 5:53 PM on September 4, 2009

If you're set on force carbonating, keeping cold *while* it carbonates is important. Once it's carbonated, you should be able to let it warm and cool it again without much trouble. I would, however, be sure to get cool and keep it cool 24 hours before it will be served.

Have you thought about allowing it to naturally carbonate? It's what I do when I keg my homebrew. It takes 10 days or so for the carbonation to form, which it sounds like you have. And you should keep it at room temperature for the duration to allow the yeast to do its magic. If you want to try it, add 1/3 cup of corn sugar or 1/2 cup of dried malt extract to 2 cups of boiling water. Let it boil for 5 minutes and chill for 10 or so. Then dump the mixture into the bottom of the keg and rack the beer onto it. After you get the beer into the keg, put 10-15 psi of CO2 into the keg to make sure the seals are set. Then wait until the wedding, and chill before serving.

I've never had a problem doing it this way and I've been kegging my homebrew for 13 years. The worst part is dumping the first yeasty glass you draw off.
posted by mollweide at 6:00 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Make super sure your keg is clean when you put your beer in it. It's harder to sanitize a keg and if you have one contaminated bottle you loose 12 oz. If you have 1 dirty keg, you loose five gallons.

When you get it into your keg, you can put it under 15-20 psi of CO2, bleed off the pressure and repeat once or twice to fill any head space with air. Once the beer is in the keg and under pressure, let it sit. You don't need to transport under pressure. In fact, most everyone I know has had a world of trouble with glasses of pure foam their first time out because they want to put too much pressure on their beer, so be careful there - you will probably find that the first ten or twenty glasses don't need anything connected to the gas side.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:35 PM on September 4, 2009

Response by poster: I've been brewing for awhile and as soon as I posted I was thinking about natural carbonation which is the route I will probably go. If I do that, do you think I should blow the oxygen out of my keg with co2 before I keg it?
posted by Packy_1962 at 7:55 PM on September 4, 2009

If I do that, do you think I should blow the oxygen out of my keg with co2 before I keg it?

I wouldn't bother, but it's easy enough to do if it makes you feel better (just pressurize the empty sanitized keg then vent it, more than once if you want to be thorough - CO2 is heavier than air so it will tend to keep air out). If you siphon into the keg the beer will displace the air out of the keg. As it carbonates naturally it will consume some oxygen from the headspace. Plus it will be served so soon it won't have time to stale much anyway.
posted by exogenous at 8:36 PM on September 4, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks so much. All of your advice is right what I was looking for. . .adventures in brewing!
posted by Packy_1962 at 9:36 PM on September 4, 2009

CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN. No matter which way you choose to carbonate you can never be too clean. Get a sanitizer at the local brewer's supply house and CLEAN THAT KEG and all the tubing.
posted by Gungho at 6:26 AM on September 5, 2009

If you want to purge the air you can also do it after you fill the keg and putting the lid on, by pressurizing the keg and venting using the safety valve a few times.
posted by mollweide at 10:01 AM on September 5, 2009

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