So today, finally, after a long wait to get my equipment and some time, I kegged homebrew for the first time. And I am excited. Ever since my first few batches, I have loathed and continue to loathe one step in all of homebrewing: bottling. I do it; I help others do it. But I don't like it. Hence my excitement for kegging. And actually, the delay in kegging has affected my homebrewing output. I swore to myself that I would not brew another batch of beer after the Belgian ale (sorta Leffe clone) in April 2008 until I kegged it.
Well, short of helping some others brew and teaching the Brewpub and Brewery Operations course, I have not brewed at home since batch 08B03. Sad, I know, but I'm stubborn sometimes.
Anyway ... I've had five Corny kegs sitting in my basement for a while now, gracious gifts from my friend Tom, whose cousin gave him about 40 of the things from the Pepsi plant. A few weeks ago, I placed an order with Leeners.com for some connections, O-rings, and a few other gadgets in order to wash and recondition the kegs. Last week, I cleaned up two of them, then placed an order with BeverageFactory.com for a CO2 tank, regulator, and a couple of picnic taps. The tank and regulator arrived via FedEx this afternoon, and I got the 5-lb tank filled at the local oxygen gas place for $10.
So, after sanitizing two kegs with iodophor, I racked the beer from the carboy into the first keg that I'd purged with CO2. After putting some pressure on it, I submerged the bottom quarter of it in a bucket of ice water to try to cool it down as much as possible. For non-chemists, carbon dioxide gas dissolves much easier (i.e., with less pressure) in colder liquid than in warmer liquid. I've got about 10 lbs pressure on it right now and I shake it periodically.
After is cools down some more, I'm going to force the beer from the first keg to the second sanitized keg while holding pressure. This mixing/moving should help carbonate the beer more quickly that placing static pressure on it. My friend Tom does this up to four times (hell, he has enough kegs to do it). Hopefully then, the beer in the second keg will be cold and better carbonated, then I can really shake it up, roll it on the floor, etc. in order to mix in the gas. It should be ready for serving on Friday and Saturday for our family's reunion.
The beer itself? Well, it started out as a Belgian blonde-ish Leffe clone, but after 15 months in the basement, it's gotten a little richer than that. I took the final gravity today at 1.008, that's down from 1.072 - so we're looking at 8.4% abv. And it tastes darn fine ... can't wait to drink it in two days, rather than waiting three or more weeks had I bottled it.
Now all I need is a counter-pressure bottle filler ;)