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FAQ: DRAFT QUESTIONS
When I force carbonate, I get quite a bit of head in the beer when I have reached carbonation. Is there a way to combat this? I refrigerate my CO2 tank when carbonating and carbonate at about 35psi for 48-72 hours.

You are over carbonating the beer by doing it this way. A lot of old information suggests that by increasing the CO2 to high psi levels for a few days, this will result in faster carbonation . Which it does, but the main problem is that you tend to end up with excess foaming. The following are two simple steps to trouble free carbonation. 1st Method - This is the most preferred by us here at the shop too. Get the beer cold (32-38F), hold 10-12psi of pressure at that temp for at least 7 days. This should perfectly carbonate the beer. The benefit of this is that you should be able to serve your beer at the same pressure (if you have 5-6 feet of 3/16" tubing). This also ensures that you won't over carbonate the beer, and give the beer some time to cold age before you start drinking it. 2nd Method - If you need to carbonate faster, using a carbonation stone will cut down the time needed to about 1/2 hour. Again, the beer needs to be cold. Attach the stone so that it is at or near the bottom of the keg. Start with no pressure on the regulator and increase to 1-2 psi and let sit for about 4-5 minutes. You should hear the bubbles in the keg. Repeat the pressure increase in 1-2 psi increments waiting 4-5 minutes between increases till you are about 14-16 psi. Try a sample glass. If this is the desired carbonation level, you can either remove or leave in the stone and back pressure down to serving psi. If not, keep increasing the psi in 1-2 psi increments till you get your desired level.


How do I fix my CO2 regulator? Its leaking, and the pressure changes on its own.

It sounds like you need to rebuild your regulator, which is very simple - the parts come in a small kit. To install the rebuild kit you'll need to disassemble the regulator. Changing out the interior requires the use of a vise clamp to hold the regulator down and in place, and a monkey wrench to remove the bonnet. The bonnet or outer casing needs to be tightened down to approximately 75 foot/lbs when reapplied. This is best accomplished with a torque wrench. If you cannot get the regulator to register over forty PSI after , the rebuilding and tightening it, an additional 1/4 turn is recommended. The internal parts should be tightened down just past finger tight with a 7/8 socket wrench. You'll need to remove the low pressure gauge and the check valve to properly insert the regulator into the vise. Remove the pressure adjustment screw. Remove the high pressure gauge and check valve. Place the regulator in the vise. Unscrew the bonnet using a crescent or monkey wrench. Remove the metal disk, spring, plastic disk, and diaphragm. Unscrew the internal wearings with a 7/8 in socket wrench. Please save and note the order in which you've removed the parts, and reassemble the regulator accordingly with the parts from the rebuild kit. Please un-thread the pressure screw before disassembling the regulator and when re-threading it, be very careful to not cross thread it as it will make your regulator useless.


Are your small CO2 cartridges food grade?

All the CO2 cartridges we sell are all food grade cartridges. When CO2 cartridges are made there is oil used in the machining process. If the cartridges are steamed cleaned on the inside after construction they are considered food grade. The company that we buy from steam cleans all of their cartridges, no matter what the intended purpose is. They then print different colors and logos on the outside of the cartridges depending on who they are selling to. Our 12g CO2 cartridges feature an "army" look to them because many of the cartridges are used in air guns (eventhough they are food grade). Some companies may pay addtional dollars to have their name and "food grade" painted on the outside but the cartridge itself is no different. Some manufacturers do make CO2 cartridges that are not food grade and strictly for gun use. These cartridges are not marketed in food related industries.


I've already got a single keg up and running, what do I need to add another keg to this system?

As for the regulator, you can go a couple of ways. The cheapest way is with a C02 "T", (D1860) The only problem here is that if you tap two kegs at different pressures, or release the pressure on one keg while the other is hooked up, your going to have beer flowing back up your gas lines, and possibly into your regulator, not a good thing. Our Gas Manifolds (D1800) take care of this problem by utilizing one-way check valves. These check valves stop beer from flowing back up your gas lines, possibly saving your regulator. They also have a shut off valve, so you can disconnect any keg on your system, or turn the gas off to a certain keg. The ultimate and coolest way to provide gas to several kegs is our Dual Body Triple Gauge Regulators, and Secondary Regulators. (D1065 and 1067A respectively) The Dual Body regulator is basically 2 regulators that can be attached to the same C02 tank, allowing you to set two 2 different pressures for your kegs. The Secondary Regulators are nice if you already have a Single Body C02 Regulator, and want to add a second body, allowing you to set different pressures for different kegs. They come with 1, 2, 3, or 4 bodies, allowing up to 5 different kegs to be served at one time. All the items listed can be found on the web page by typing the product number in the product search bar on the side of the page.


Does it matter if I put my CO2 tank inside or outside of the refrigerator?

No, not really. Most people store the CO2 tank inside the refrigerator. We will make a few notes: When a tank is placed in the refrigerator the pressure on your regulator will slightly drop because of the decrease in temperature and subsequent compression of the liquid inside the tank. Also, steel tanks when exposed the moisture inside a refrigerator have a great tendency to rust if any paint is missing from the tank. This usually happens on the bottom of the tank and can possibly result in rust rings where the tank sat on the bottom of your refrigerator. When adjusting a cold regulator, the regulator does not reach equalibrium until a few hours have passed. So if it is at 8PSI and you want to go to 10 PSI move the adjuster a small amount and wait a couple of hours till you decide if you hit the correct temperature.


How will leaving the CO2 tank in the refrigerator affect the carbonation? Will this be alright or should I set up the CO2 tank outside of the fridge?

The co2 tank can go inside or outside the refrigerator. There are three things in the long run to consider when deciding where to put the co2 tank when making a kegerator. First, just a FYI that co2 is a liquid and we use the gas the comes off of the liquid. Since it is a gas, it will expand and contract with warm and cold temperatures, allowing readings on a regulator of 800-900 psi when at room temp and about 500-600 psi when cold. We mention this as a lot of people think they have a gas leak the very first day it is in the refrigerator as they see what looks like the bottle emptying. It should level off at about 500 psi in about 48 hours. Second, most regulators work based off of a spring and a large rubber seal. Storing this cold will in the long term have more negative effect on the rubber seal then storing it at room temp. We find that ours takes longer to adjust the pressure when changing it when the regulator is cold, as apposed to when it is warm. Third, the final issue is do you have space to keep the co2 inside, or do you have room outside for the tank. With all of that said, most people I know keep the tank inside the refrigerator for convenience.


Can you explain how to connect your keg system with your plate filter and counter pressure bottle filler? I like the idea of clearer bottled beer, but does the plate filter remove all of the yeast and prevent bottle conditioning?

The counter pressure bottle filler allows you to fill bottles with per-carbonated beer. It works like this: - You first carbonate the beer in the keg (important, do not over carbonate or you will have problems with foam.) - Then you set up the filler with equal pressure to the filler and the keg (usually through a gas "T" line.) - Insert the filler into the bottle and turn the lever towards the gas side, this will pressurize the bottle to the same pressure in the keg. - There is an adjustable pressure relief valve on the side of the filler, open it slightly to allow air to come out of the bottle (this purges out the air and replaces with CO2). - On the first bottle, close the relief valve again and turn the lever from the gas input to the beer input. - Since they are at the same pressure, nothing or very little beer should fill, now unscrew the adjustable relief valve until beer is filling the bottle. - I will usually let it so far out to where it starts to foam, then I thread it back in till the foam is just a little layer on the top of the filling beer (ideal fill rate.) - Fill to the top of the neck of the bottle, turn the valve to the off position, remove the filler and cap the bottle -Now that we've set the flow rate, with the next bottles we just insert the filler, turn to the gas position, let purge for a few seconds, switch to the beer fill, and repeat past steps. Usually, you only need to do slight tweaks to the adjustable filler. You can filter between kegs using our plate filter which will remove most all yeast and most haze causing compounds (but not all.) You do not need any yeast present because you will be counter pressure filling and will not be bottle conditioning (allowing natural carbonation in the bottle through the use of yeast and added sugar.)


What temperature and pressure should I store my kegged beer at?

The colder the temperature, the lower the pressure you need to maintain carbonation. For example, a keg held at 35 degrees with 10psi of applied pressure will have the same carbonation rate as a keg held at 43 degrees with 15psi of applied pressure. To set your system up correctly, you need to figure out at what temperature you like your beer, adjust the carbonation to the level you desire, and then find the correct beer serving line length that provides the right resistance. The rule of thumb for balancing systems is that the pounds of applied pressure should equal the total pounds of resistance supplied by your beer line. All of our beer line descriptions have resistance per foot listed as a part of the description.


Are the filter pads you sell sanitary?

The pads are sanitary until open, so no sanitizing is necessary. To sanitize the filter housing we submerse it in a bucket of sanitizer.


At what pressure should I filter?

The pressure is not all that important - slower is generally better for quality. We recommend filtering at 4-6 psi for starters. You can judge the flow by sight and slow down or speed up as necessary. The actual pressure needed will vary with how the filter cartridge is handling the workload (plugging up) and the carbonation level of the beer. Usually one set of plate filters will successfully filter 10 gallons of beer.


Can you filter beer while siphoning into the bottles? If we can't how is filtering normally done?

Filtering requires pressure to push the beer through a set of filter pads. Pressure can be achieved using CO2 to push the beer from one keg through a filter and into the next keg, or with the use of a diaphragm pump to push beer through a set of filter pads (though the later arrangement poses serious risks of oxidation for the homebrewer without CO2 on hand.) In a commercial brewery either of the above methods may be used. The sediment on the bottom is yeast, highly nutritious and a benefit in the aging process of higher alcohol beers (plus 8% ABV for instance.) Most homebrewers decant their beer out of the bottle and into the glass in a single pour to leave the yeast behind in the bottle.


How many gallons of beer can your filters filter?

There are a few ways to answer this question as there are many variables. The 10" poly-spun filters are designed to be a one-time use and then discarded. With that in mind we usually recommend setting up to filter a few batches that day instead of the one. Depending on how much sediment is in the keg to how many batches you can get out of 1 filter. If the beer is pretty clean then you should be able to get 4-5 kegs from one filter. Our plate filters can filter up to 10 gallons successfully. Tip: When doing multiple kegs try going from light to dark or less hoppy to hoppier.


Why is some gas fittings 5/16 inch but homebrew qd are 1/4 inch?

Often times the fittings on a regulator or gas manifold are 5/16" but homebrew quick disconnects are 1/4".  This happens because industry standard in beer dispensing is 5/16" and industry standard in the soda industry (which is where kegs and keg qd's come from) is 1/4".  No worries you can either choose to use 1/4" ID line and stretch it over your 5/16" fittings (use a glass of hot water to soften line) or you can use 5/16" ID gas line and attach it to a 1/4" barb by overtightening the hose clamp. 


What is an ideal serving pressure?

For most homebrewers a pressure set at 8-12PSI is the sweet spot. Your beer has to be stored cold from 34-40F for this pressure to work properly and you will need 5 feet of 3/16" ID line to serve the beer from. 


When should I refill my CO2 Tank?

When the needle reads half way in the red you are about 10% full. You should be able to push approximately another 5 gallons of beer when you're at this level of remaining gas.


My beer faucet is stuck?

If your draft faucet is stuck, first disconnect the keg from the beer line. Then remove the faucet from the shank or tower.  Mix a small solution of PBW or BLC and hot water (approximately 140F), and let the faucet soak in for 30 minutes. Wearing rubber dish gloves remove the faucet and try moving the handle again.  If it does not move yet, disassemble the faucet as much as you can and place it back in the PBW solution for another 30 minutes.  If you don't have PBW (powdered brewery wash) or BLC (Beer Line Cleaner) try just using hot water. 


Dispensing With A Nitrogen and CO2 Mix

Q:   It’s been seven years since I started dispensing my homebrew with a Cornelius keg system, and I’ve never been happier until now. I just came across a tank of “the mix” (nitrogen/CO2) and an old Murphy’s faucet designed for dispensing with the mix. I was quite excited until I hooked it all up. We got way too much foam, and it did not dissipate as it does with the fine products designed for this dispensing system. The regulator was set at 30 psi as it should have been. The beer was at 45 °F (7 °C). It had been pouring perfectly on straight CO2 minutes before. Is there something different that must be done in the conditioning? Is it possible that the terminal gravity was too high? Must I use unmalted barley in my grain bill? Pub owners have told me that other beers don’t do well on this system unless they’re designed for it. Why?

 

A:   You say the beer was pouring perfectly on CO2 “minutes before” your foam problems with the gas mix. You do not say whether you had tried to dispense the beer through the Murphy’s tap under CO2. This is a critical piece of information. I have to assume that you were dispensing the beer with a conventional tap using 12–15 psi of CO2. If that is true, then here’s what I would do to track down the problem.

First, check your gas mix. It should be three parts nitrogen to one part CO2 (75%/25%). Then check your tap. I’ve never worked with a Murphy’s tap. If it’s the same as a Guinness tap, it has five little pinholes in a plastic restrictor disk. The beer is pushed through those pinholes to force the CO2 in the beer to “break out.” The restrictor plate is the secret to the formation of that nice thick creamy layer of foam in the glass. If this is the way your tap works, then 30 psi may not be enough. Guinness is dispensed under as much as 45 psi. At 30 psi, you may get foaming in the keg and in the beer line because not enough CO2 counterpressure is present to maintain the carbonation level in the keg.

So how can 30 psi not be enough? Well, this is mixed gas. The total is 30, but only 7.5 psi of that is CO2. With gas mixtures, each gas behaves as if the others were not there. In other words, if you’ve got a keg of beer at 45 °F (7 °C) at 2.2 volumes of carbonation — which translates into a bit over 11 psi of CO2 pressure — you need over 11 psi of CO2 counterpressure in the headspace to maintain an equilibrium (that’s over 44 psi using the 75%/25% mix). If you have only 7.5 psi of CO2, the gas in the beer will come out of solution.

Your informants are basically right about beers needing to be designed for the mixed gas dispense. Proper dispense design is not a matter of recipe formulation — beers brewed with barley flakes are (other things being equal) more prone to foaming than all-malt beers. But carbonation is a critical parameter. When you dispense beer through that tap, most of the CO2 dissolved in the beer breaks out into a head of foam, which can take quite a while to settle down. The beer underneath the foam is rather flat. So you don’t need a lot of carbonation in the keg.

I suggest carbonating the keg to 1.8 volumes. With a draft system and pressure gauge, it is easy to adjust the carbonation in the keg downward by bleeding off the head pressure in small steps. After each bleed, wait for the pressure to stabilize — it will bounce back up — before taking off a little more. You’re finished when it comes to rest at the correct head pressure, as determined by your carbonation chart.

So I suspect that part of the reason your foam isn’t settling down is that the beer in your keg was too highly carbonated for this dispense method. Note also that 7.5 psi of CO2 head pressure (30 psi of mixed gas) is enough to maintain 1.8 volumes of carbonation at 45 °F (7 °C). With correct head pressure and carbonation levels, most any ale can be dispensed under mixed gas.