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Craft beer in kegs

Discussion in 'Home Bar' started by DreaminBeer, Jul 16, 2012.

  1. Quick question for anyone with more keg experience. My keg experience was doing keg stands back in college but thats about it. I want to get a kegarator but with the craft beers I drink coupled wtih the fact I like to try lots of different beers, how long does a sixth barrel stay fresh? Can it be on there for two months and it still taste the same?
  2. cfrances33

    cfrances33 Champion (750) Illinois Jun 12, 2012

    If you're using no more than a tap... a day, two tops. However with the kegarator it should last about two months. Same rules apply with respect to style (drink up for IPA's, darker beers will survive longer)
  3. Two months is definitely alright. Kegs do not let in any light and they actually stay fresher longer than bottles. We age kegs at my bar, and I have had 6 year old Cantillions on draft before. Just make sure and buy 1/6 barrles and you will get through them quick enough.
    Damian74Shensky likes this.
  4. cfrances33

    cfrances33 Champion (750) Illinois Jun 12, 2012

    I want to come to your bar.
    Monkeysanta likes this.
  5. haha, yeah it wasnt actually a bar I owned. Just worked there.
    Monkeysanta likes this.
  6. Perfect. Thanks for the info. And I want to come to your bar too.
  7. djaeon

    djaeon Advocate (725) California Oct 2, 2006

    I've had full size kegs on tap at home (in a kegerator) for a couple months with no problems.
  8. billandsuz

    billandsuz Savant (380) New York Sep 1, 2004

    there is a bit of confusion and misinformation here so far. this is just a quick summary of things you should know.

    craft beer, if properly cared for, should be good for a few months on average. dispense with CO2 and a balanced system and you will get good pours for a long time.

    most all craft beer is not pasteurized and must be handled with this fact in mind. it's not dairy or bread, but it is food.

    unpasteurized beer must be kept cold. no exceptions. not much above 40 in almost all circumstances, and a bit colder if possible, will greatly extend a kegs fresh life.

    the style of beer is certainly the greatest consideration for keg freshness. hops and alcohol are preservatives. bigger beers will stay fresh longer. a 7% IPA should be good for 90 days or more typically. a Barley Wine can stay "fresh" for many months while a light lager will begin to show its age in 60 days or less. it probably wont be undrinkable but the fresh character fades, and one of the pleasures of keg beer is freshness.

    the term "darker beer" (darker than what?) means nothing. nada.

    a vanishing percentage of beers benefit from aging. any talk of what you can experience with a Gueuze for example is nice, but irrelevant.

    all things being equal, most craft bottle will remain stable for a while longer than keg. however keg beer is desirable precisely because it is not processed in the same way as keg beer.

    beer in keg does not get light struck. not ever.
    Cheers.
    coolandy007 likes this.
  9. trancesk8er

    trancesk8er Savant (255) California Jan 19, 2011

    something to remember that is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT is keeping very clean draft lines. Trust me! I made the errors as I learned about craft beer . Keep it clean! If the beer is super foamy thats a sign the lines are dirty as hell.
  10. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Moderator (620) Georgia Feb 12, 2012 Staff Member


    If it's really foamy, it's also a sign that your system isn't balanced, and you are doing some wrong too.
    trancesk8er likes this.
  11. trancesk8er

    trancesk8er Savant (255) California Jan 19, 2011

    agree! sorry i left that out, thanks for the assist!
  12. cubbyswans

    cubbyswans Savant (365) Missouri Jun 10, 2008

    Please explain how cellaring works then? Many people store unpasteurized craft beer for years at temperatures above 40 with no adverse effects. I have had cellared unpasteurized kegs that were years old that were outstanding.

    There's no arguing that old beer will not be fresh. That doesn't mean it is bad in many cases.
  13. festero

    festero Disciple (60) New Hampshire Aug 15, 2010

    Another tip for the home keg system users...... Keep the faucet clean! Mold can grow rather quickly in the faucet, causing problems such as foamy, wild beer. I keep a small spray bottle with water nearby and give the inside of the faucet spout a good flushing-out after every use.
  14. Tukee

    Tukee Aficionado (155) Arizona Aug 1, 2009

    I have a couple questions that I think didn't get covered above. If most craft kegs are not pasteurized, what is the possible effect of it sitting at room temp for a few days? I know "skunking" shouldn't be a problem because light can't get in - but could there be other problems? Maybe from the active yeast?
    Also I heard that if the kegerator is not set cold enough, you end up with a lot of foam forming in the keg...is that true?
  15. Amen to that!
    Not arguing with you on that point, but how do you explain bottle conditioned beer that sits on a store shelf for months at room temperature? This is every bit as unpasteurized as a keg.

    To the OP: The dismal shelf life of college kegs after tapping (two days, maybe) is due to the pump used to add pressure for serving. The air you're filling the headspace with is full of oxygen - the biggest enemy of freshness, no matter what the product. If you push the beer with CO2, it's like never opening the bottle.
  16. Tukee

    Tukee Aficionado (155) Arizona Aug 1, 2009

    I know some bottles (like Stone) say to keep refrigerated because it is live beer. However there are other "live beers" that do not specifically state this. Is it just a matter of precerance. I've had Stone beers sit at room temp and hey seemed fine to me
  17. billandsuz

    billandsuz Savant (380) New York Sep 1, 2004

    this thread seems to have some of the meat cut out of it since last year. the nonsene about skunking etc was clipped i think?

    bottle conditioned beer has the advantage of having live yeast. these yeast will (hopefully) slow or prevent the growth of undesirable spoiling bacteria. this is pretty much exactly why homebrew can tolerate long storage without constant refrigeration. so long as the packaging was reasonably clean, the beer will remain stable for a long time. cold storage of any beer will help to preserve its fresh character, if that is desired.

    commercial bottling is filtered and then tunnel pasteurized or sterile packaged. keg beer is rough filtered, if at all and needs to be kept cold to keep the spoiling bacteria in check. less so if alcohol, hops or both are present in elevated levels. the unfiltered quality is why draft beer is typically desirable over bottle.

    lastly, i note that certain legendary bottle conditioned beers (Chimay) are quite a disappointment in keg format, as these kegs are pasteurized and therefore have neither the bottle conditioning attributes or the benefits of an unfiltered keg.

    Cheers Mike
  18. I didn't notice that the thread was a year old.
    I guess I'm just not clear on why you believe that unpasteurized, rough filtered (if at all) beer has no live yeast (where did it go?). And why it behaves differently than bottle conditioned or homebrew in this context.
  19. Not true. Foam is caused by a variety of issues, temperature can be one of them, but not because it isn't set cold enough. The trick to temperature is you want the beer to be the same temperature from the keg, up the tower (which is why there are tower coolers), and into the glass. Any difference along the way and there will be foam. Think of what happens when you grab a warm 2 liter bottle of soda from a shelf and pour it over ice. The temperature difference causes foam. Cold beer going up a warm tower will foam. Cold beer going into a frozen glass will cause foam.
    The CO2 pressure also needs to be balanced to the temperature using the volumes of CO2 the beer is kegged at.
  20. Tukee

    Tukee Aficionado (155) Arizona Aug 1, 2009

    Awesome...makes sense. Thanks!
  21. funhog

    funhog Savant (420) Illinois Mar 8, 2011

    You sell more beer if it's cold..........ready to drink!

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