After all that its getting time to drink the stuff:
There are two major ways to condition and store and finally dispense our beers:
Bottling is viewed as the simple way to store and serve beer. The bottles need to be primed with the correct amount of sugar and then sealed. Left in warm place to carbonate (about 2 weeks) then stored in a cool place ready for drinking
There are 3 options:
- Use plastic PET bottles designed for beer. These keep out the light and also the oxygen.
- Use new or recycled (Grolsch) flip-top bottles. These can often be obtained free from pubs that sell Grolsch.
- Pub type bottles (new or scrounged) and new crown (metal) caps. These require a capping machine. These range from very simple to the more expensive lever operated capping machines..
A good tip is to bottle up a small Lucozade bottle with the beer/priming agent. This allows a visible sign of yeast growth and also you can squeeze the bottle to get an idea of the level of carbonation. If it starts to go spherical then you probably have bottle bombs on your hands.
After a while the time and effort required in the washing, filling, capping, conditioning and storage of 40 bottles per brew leads people to consider the alternative:
A keg can be thought of as a big bottle. Fill it, condition it, dispensing drink from it!
A keg can be primed purely by using your dispense gas to condition the beer without the need to add priming agents.
The keg can be either a full sized pub keg, with the correct coupler (if you can find one!!) or more likely a Cornelius keg. These are used by the fizzy drinks industry and typical hold 19 litres of cola syrup or the like.
They are available either new or refurbished or second hand:
Your keg needs gas. There are 3 sorts of gas used:
- Pure CO2
Pure CO2 is easily obtainable from fire extinguiser service companys. Most will sell you a full bottle with suitable valve and refill as and when needed. Some contacts are:
In Dublin: http://www.ddwholesale.ie/
In Bray: A.J. Edge Ltd (Bray), Unit E Solus, Tower Ind Est, Bray, Co Wicklow.
In Cork: Munster CO2 – 021-4505550, John O’Brien – 085-1089808
CO2 requires the correct regulator obtainable from the HB shops that sell the Cornies or the aquaticgarden above or from e-bay
Lets copy the big boys and use their gases:
- Mixed Gas 50% CO2 and 50% N2
- Mixed Gas for Stout 25% CO2 and 75% N2
These last two gases are more elusive.
You may have a mixed gas bottle but getting it filled is a bit of a problem as people are finding.
Some of the home bar rental companies MAY fill a bottle IF its still in test.
These bottles are filled to very high pressures (220 Bar) and deserve respect.
When you consider how much we save by brewing as opposed to buying why not go legit?
British Oxygen in Ballymun will open you an account.
You will be speaking to Owen, mention Will from the brewing club sent you. Show him your ID (passport) and your bank details (statement) to show your address and account number and sorter code.
He will open the account on the spot. I checked yesterday (Dec 2012) and these were the numbers:
BOC Suremix (Stout) 25% CO2 75% N2:
Bottle Rental: €75-28 inc Vat per annum
Bottle Fill: €40.90 inc Vat
Now bear in mind whoever fills your bottle will charge you for the gas so the BOC rental works out at less than €1-50 a week
You can also rent a small bottle of Oxygen for your wort airation, Argon for your fabrications etc, etc.
Mixed Gas Regulators
Now for the mixed gas you need the correct regulator. A lot of people find Argon regulators as used in welding machines.
There are two sorts of Argon regulator used in mig/tig gas welding:
1. One sort is an adjustable pressure regulator. It nearly always has two gauges: Hi Pressure for cylinder contents and the Low pressure gauge. The big knob sets the output pressure from about 0 to about 80/100 psi. This is the one to use for beer. The smaller gauge may be calibrated in litres per minute but it really is showing the regulated, set, low output pressure
2. The other sort is a fixed pressure regulator that has a flowmeter fitted on the side. It usually only has a Hi-Pressure contents gauge and on the side is a vertical tube with a float in it and it a needle valve to adjust the flow rate.
DO NOT USE these for beer as the pressure is preset to 50 or 60 psi and its the needle valve that reglates the flow rate not the pressure. Connect one of these up and as theres no flow the pressure will just increases to the preset level and then there is a big “BANG”.
Fittings and Tubing
You will need fittings and tubing to connect the kegs/cornies to the gas regulator and the taps.
A very standard fitting used in industry are known as “John Guest” or JG fittings for 3/8” outside diameter tubing.
Here is their web-site ( useful for part numbers – they don’t sell direct ) www.johnguest.com/
These can be found on e-bay or here:
Also in the UK a very good e-bayer. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. He can supply all sorts of keg/corny stuff.
Other people favour a “barbed” connector – with these you push the hose/tube onto the fittings and secure with a Jubillee clip or similar
Your beer finally finds it way to your glass via a tap.
The ones you want have a little lever on the side to allow for how much “sparkle” is put onto the pour.
These are also available from the bigger HB stores:
If you are dispensing stout (on stout mix) and want the creamy head then you will need to source a “Stout” tap. Sometimes they appear on e-bay carrying a well known G logo. These have a little gizmo inside with some 6 or 7 tiny holes drilled into it so that when the beer flows through it creams up
Bar Fittings and Glassware
Drip trays, Bar towels, branded glasses can all be obtained on the net.
If you ask at your local pub you may get some older stuff (ashtrays anyone??) for free.
The final thing the man-cave needs is a welcoming sign: