hist-brewing: Traditional kegging?

BrewInfo brewinfo at xnet.com
Thu Feb 22 07:30:41 PST 2001

Brian writes:
>I'm relatively new to the list, but not to brewing. However, I'm tired of 
>sanitizing bottle after bottle every single time I make a nice big batch of 
>homebrew. I'd like to figure out how to set up a gravity (upsidedown) keg 
>dispensing system that'll carbonate nicely without forcing me to set down 
>the $400-odd for an old freezer, temp modulator, tap & kegging system. 
>Anyone know how to do this?
>I'm thinking of building a three corny-keg system that can be stood upside 
>down with a simple hosetap & beerswitch for each (easy made black & tans!) 
>Will this work? Any suggestions (other than lying the things on their 
>sides?) And how much would one need to prime the carboys to get adequate 
>carbonation without CO2 or nitro?

Unless you have a cellar in your house that will keep the beer in the 50-55F
range, you will still need some kind of cooling.  Secondly, you had better
be prepared to drink a lot of beer because, traditionally-served casks
should really be started and finished within a day or two.  That's why there
are so many sizes of casks in the UK... the pub simply orders the right
sizes for the rate at which they sell the particular beer.

You don't just prime and allow the CO2 to take up the ullage (headspace).
You must let air into the cask to replace the beer that is removed.  This
is why the beer must be consumed within a day or two.  Stronger beers will
last a few days, maybe a week, but that's about it.

Mechanically, it will work, but you must attach a hose or tube from the
long dip tube (I presume you are talking about Corny kegs) to be above
the surface of the beer in the cask.  This is where the air would come in.

Priming is just short of what you would use for priming bottles, if you
use finings like isinglass (traditional).  The reason that traditional
cask-conditioned beers are low in carbonation (relative to Belgian or
American beers) is because high carbonation interferes with the action
of the finings (dropping the yeast).  Too much carbonation and the yeast
and finings stay in suspension.  Each yeast is different, so you have to
know your yeast and prime the cask to as much carbonation as you can
without interfering with the yeast settling.  This tends to be on the
order of 1.5 to 2.0 volumes.  Pick up a good homebrewing book that lists
the priming levels based upon the carbonation levels in volumes and
work from there.  There was an article in an issue of Brewing Techniques
on this... you might want to try their website for back issues.

Finally, "black & tan" is more properly called "half & half."  The term
"black & tan" was what they called the occupying English in Ireland (because
of the colour of their uniforms).  The term has very unpleasant memories
for the Irish.


Al Korzonas, Lockport, Illinois, USA
korz at brewinfo.org

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