Category Archives: hardware

Considering buying a Beerbox?

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 4.19.11 PM

I fell down an internet wormhole recently and found myself looking at the Beerbox from Brewing Tools. It’s a ~2 gallon plastic keg that you can fit in your fridge and pressurize with a hand charger. For $199 you get a charger, 2 beer boxes, and some co2. Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 4.18.52 PM

At first glance it seems like an easy way to get in to kegging, but not a particularly cheap way. The plastic (HDPE?) box will be difficult to sanitize, and it will definitely require replacement at some point. You probably can’t force carbonate in it, and those co2 cartridges are much more expensive than a bigger tank.
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The recommended way to start kegging

Buy the gear that will last your lifetime.

This kit will hold its value well, and you can easily sell it for 80% (if not more) if you end up not wanting it. The regulator and co2 tank are refillable and will work for many years, and you can swap them out for more functional ones if you decide to upgrade.

The previous example I showed was the absolute cheapest way to start kegging. I’m not saying that approach is wrong, but I prefer to work a few more days and buy the right thing the first time. This is (minimally) it.

best beginner kegging kit.

Adventures in homebrewing has a screaming deal on a single gauge regulator with a 10 lb co2 tank, a corny keg, and all of the fixings to connect everything and dispense beer. It sells for $155, and simply can’t be beat. If you can beat it, send me a message! (seriously)

Here’s the breakdown
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The cheapest way to get started kegging

What’s the cheapest way to get started kegging?

It’s a thought in a lot of homebrewers minds. There is a lot of conflicting info out there about kegging. Regulators, 5 lb vs 20 lb co2 tanks, keezers, cornies and more!
Here is a simple breakdown of the absolute minimum you need in order to stop botting as soon as possible. Afterwards I’ll talk a little bit more about the downsides of a minimalistic setup like this, and offer up more solutions.

The absolute most basic kegging setup you can get is:

Total ___ $126

With this setup you have to carbonate in your keg the same way you would normally do in your bottles – by adding priming sugar when you rack it into the keg. It’s actually even easier because you don’t have to worry about mixing it.

You’ll next attach your co2 dispenser to your gas side and give it a burst of air to set the seal on the corny. Take the gas connector off (and take the beer dispenser off as well if it was connected.)
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How to convert a pin lock corny keg to a ball lock one

Corny_keg_explodedKnowledge is power, and not buying that screamingly cheap keg simply because it is not whatever style of connections you have can cost you in the long run. Depending on how well you shop around you can buy the pieces to convert a keg from pin to ball or vice versa for around $10. There are a few things you need to know.

What kind of keg do you have?

“Corny kegs” were manufactured by a lot of companies, with the lids generally being interchangeable, but the posts often use a different threading. You need to find the manufacturer so that you can buy the right threading. Look on the side of your keg to find inscriptions. Firestone and Cornelius are the two big manufacturers, so look for those first. Another useful tip is that firestone kegs generally have rubber that is not continuous. What I mean by that is that it is not one full circle at the top. It dips down in between handles. Here is a great link on how to tell different kegs apart.

What kind of fittings do you need?

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DIY Spunding Valve?

Lately I’ve been really intrigued with the concept of spunding valves. A spunding valve is like an air regulator that you attach to the gas port on a closed fermentation vessel. It is generally adjustable and you can dial in the point at which it will release the excess co2 to the air. Something like a spunding valve is necessary in order to do pressurized fermentation.

OK, but why?

Brewers use these during secondary or the end of primary to carbonate the beer while it is finishing. It has the benefit of skipping (or combining) the force carb step, and that means that you can go grain to glass faster!
There are a few different ways to build one of these. Here is an article from BYO, here is a post from homebrewtalk, and here is a ready to buy version from morebeer. All of those cost around or a little over $30.

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Ball lock vs Pin lock Corny keg?

Shiny5GalCorny

Once someone decides that a kegging setup is right for them, the very next question is usually:

“what is the difference between ball lock and pin lock kegs?”

The answer is pretty simple. The kegs are usually quite similar, but the connection point that the gas and beer lines use is slightly different.

This is an example of a ball lock post
Ball Lock Post
and this is an example of a pin lock post.
Pin-Lock-Posts
Notice the small pins that poke out of the base of the pin lock post. That is why it is named “pin lock”

History

In the past these kegs were used predominantly for soda syrup. Coke used the pin lock kegs and Pepsi used the ball lock kegs. They could have easily used the same system, but it was probably obfuscated in order to discourage restaraunt owners from switching soda companies as well as to keep the kegs circulating in their respective distribution pools.
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