Priming in the Keg

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by pweis909, Mar 7, 2013.

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  1. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,594) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    Anyone priming in the keg? Is it worth it?

    Why am I thinking about this? I can keep only two kegs on CO2, but have three corny kegs. I was thinking that if I prime the third keg by adding sugar, it would be primed and ready to serve when one of the others kicks.
  2. rmalinowski4

    rmalinowski4 Disciple (329) Oct 22, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I'm thinking about doing the same thing for the same reasons but haven't tried it yet.
  3. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (295) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    It works just as well as priming in the bottle. Keep in mind that you have to add some pressure to seal the keg, so you're not entirely off the hook (the beer will absorb some of that). Some recommend using slightly less priming sugar when kegging. This is to avoid overcarbing - the CO2 will automatically correct undercarbing without you doing anything (I guess that's why it's called 'automatic'), but overcarbing will take an extra step to correct (burping the keg until it's right). I haven't done the math, but my gut tells me that CO2 is cheaper than sugar, at least if you own a 20# tank (the numbers change dramatically with 5#).
    inchrisin likes this.
  4. clearbrew

    clearbrew Initiate (0) Nov 3, 2009 Louisiana

    When I fill my kegs now, I get some fairly cloudy beers for the first few pints. My fear is that keg carbonating will leave me with such a large amount of sediment that I might be drinking a gallon or so of cloudy, sub-par beer. Just to save a day or two of waiting.
  5. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Defender (689) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Essentially tried this today (in addition to fermenting in the keg) by pulling out a # of toasted coconut from a keg of lightly carbonated stout (4 gal) and adding 5 grams of wine yeast to get rid of some of the sweetness. I've got a gauge and bleeder valve hooked up to the keg just in case the secondary fermentation gets out of hand...wish me luck :grimacing: the keg in question should be a real treat.
    WickedSluggy likes this.
  6. WickedSluggy

    WickedSluggy Devotee (400) Nov 21, 2008 Texas
    Beer Trader

    A lot of brewers perform a secondary in the keg. I do it sometimes. It usually does not produce an extreme amount of sediment, but it does produce more than kegging a finished beer. If you know that the keg is going to stay put, it should only produces a couple pints of beer with sediment. Once the sediment around the dip-tube is sucked up, the beer clears up and remains clear unless you subsequently disturb the keg. So keep that in mind.

    I have not tried adding sugar, but on a few occasions I have racked a to a keg for a secondary fermentation and allowed it to "carb up". Drinking the lightly carbonated beer is like drinking cask ale. I kind of think of it like that, but obviously it will not produce enough pressure and carbonation to dispense the entire 5 gallons. Even if you add sugar, you're not going to avoid using CO2 unless you’re going to pump the beer with some sort of beer engine. We are just talking about conditioning not dispensing.
    billandsuz likes this.
  7. Crack2000

    Crack2000 Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2010 Texas

    I've done this several times with success. I like to have a few kegs on standby so there is always something on hand when one of the taps runs dry. I use the standard amount of priming sugar, CO2 to seal, and set it in a closet and forget it. Sediment is minimal and beer is ready to go as soon as you put it on. I'm a big fan.
  8. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (295) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    I carb my kegs with CO2 before storing them in a closet to wait for a free tap. They're ready when I am! :slight_smile:
  9. spartan1979

    spartan1979 Aspirant (297) Dec 29, 2005 Missouri

    Why not just get another "T", some gas hose and another gas disconnect?
    premierpro likes this.
  10. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,594) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    Sugar vs. CO2 would amount to only a minor savings, as sugar is quite inexpensive. It's not the sort of savings that would factor into my thoughts on this.

    However, I am on your side about the CO2 - bigger tanks are better. My 5#er recently ran out and I went to exchange it. The shop didn't have any 5#ers ready for exchange so he gave me a 10#er. The guy said he charges the same for a filled 10#er and 5#er ($14), and he didn't charge me for trading up tank size. Now I should be able to refill half as often. Fewer trips to the store (a little out of the way for me) and reduced possibility of running out of gas at bad time, plus a minor savings. Three plusses!

    It sounds like you must have an extra gas line in order to prime the kegs. If I had another gas line, I'd just need another hose and I could be serving three at once. But I only have a double regulator. I could get a splitter, as Spartan describes:

    Might pursue this option. Or maybe get two splitters, and another keg:slight_smile: However, I can't just buy brewing hardware willy-nilly; my wife might think I am addicted to the hobby. Have to bide my time, wait for the right moment...
  11. MLucky

    MLucky Initiate (0) Jul 31, 2010 California

    That would be my fear, too: I keep imagine two cases worth of that bottom of the bottle sediment in the keg.

    And besides, you can carbonate a keg in about 15 minutes using the shake and bake method, then drink it within a few hours.
  12. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,594) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    I've never done this. I always set to serving pressure and let it carb over several weeks.
  13. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (295) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    I was keeping an eye out for a 5# tank to use as a spare, but found a deal on a second 20#. It was a no-brainer! I can now go 5 years between refills if I'm so inclined, though I actually relax knowing I have a 2.5 year window to get the empty one refilled. :slight_smile:
    I keep my CO2 in the closet with my kegs. I teed off the line going to the keezer for this purpose (and also for purging, etc. It's a 20' line, so I can use it pretty much wherever I need it). It serves me well
    (For some reason, I'm imagining Sofia Vergara's voice growling: "then jou are not a r-r-r-r-real man!" :slight_smile:)
  14. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,594) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    Imagine Sofia, but with a Fargo-esque upper midwestern accent, and you've described my wife to a T!
  15. JrGtr

    JrGtr Disciple (396) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts

    I'm planning on this top-level but because I don't have the scratch and place for a full kegorator. I'm planning on carving with sugar, and using the party charger for dispensing for the moment, till I have money and space for a full setup.
  16. MLucky

    MLucky Initiate (0) Jul 31, 2010 California

    And that's probably the best way to do it. But I'm just saying that if the goal in keg priming is to save time, there are ways of force carbonating that take very little time.
  17. wspscott

    wspscott Savant (980) May 25, 2006 Kentucky

    I frequently add ~3oz of corn sugar when I keg, just add enough CO2 to seal the lid. It seems I read somewhere that this helps the yeast eat any oxygen that ends up in the keg from racking.

    Honestly, the main reason I do it is because I bought 5lbs of corn sugar right before I started kegging and I am trying to use it up :slight_smile: But, I figure it can't hurt.
  18. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,594) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    When I bottle prime (which I sometimes do despite the kegging system), I use table sugar. Formerly, I used corn sugar. I can see no difference. When I spoke of sugar being cheap, earlier in this thread, I was thinking table sugar.
  19. mugs1789

    mugs1789 Initiate (184) Dec 6, 2005 Maryland

    I prime with corn sugar sometimes if I won't be adding a keg to the keezer for a few weeks or months. I also have a pound or two of corn sugar at home that I will never use otherwise. I haven't noticed additonal sediment but I'm sure its there.
  20. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,977) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Peter, are you saying that your wife looks like Sofia Vergara!?!

    Dude, you are one lucky man!!!

  21. inchrisin

    inchrisin Defender (654) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    I think you'll be surprised at how quick your line clears after you hit serving temp and serving pressure.

    It's a great way to get beer in your gas line if your counterflow doesn't work. You have to tear your lines apart, clean them, let them dry, and try again.
  22. inchrisin

    inchrisin Defender (654) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    Would you mind some pics in the near future. I'm thinking about drilling a hole in my fridge and beefing up my CO2 tanks.
  23. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (295) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    That's not a problem if you don't move the keg around with the gas connected. But (I assume you mean 'check valve') these aren't in the habit of failing.
  24. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,594) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    Mostly I was making a small joke about the incongruity of an upper midwest accent coming out of a Latina bombshell.

    But yes, I am lucky.
  25. inchrisin

    inchrisin Defender (654) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    er. shake and bake is a good way to get beer in your gas line. I dunno if that came across correctly. I've got a faulty check in my 3 way, and I heard a guy at my LHBS say it was common. I just assumed that was true.
  26. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (295) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    The comment you replied to specifically advocated the 'set it and forget it' method. As to faulty check valves, the simplicity of the design suggests a long life of reliable service, supported by years of experience with, admittedly, no more than a few. But my observations could well be anecdotal. I'll defer to the pro on this point (your LHBS guy).
  27. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,336) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    What with all that intense LHBS training they go through and all.
    warchez, oregone and mikehartigan like this.
  28. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (2,977) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

  29. samtallica

    samtallica Initiate (0) Jul 22, 2010 North Carolina

    I tried it a few times back when I first started kegging. I tried everything from half as much sugar as I would use when bottling to the normal amount. The beers were always over carbonated. I have no idea why.
  30. JrGtr

    JrGtr Disciple (396) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts

    Over carbed at half the amount and you went with more sugar?
    To quote Mythbusters, there's your problem right there.
    Unless I'm completely misunderstanding what you're saying, it's simply too much. From what I'm told, you need about a third as much sugar as for bottling.
  31. samtallica

    samtallica Initiate (0) Jul 22, 2010 North Carolina

    You're misunderstanding what I'm saying.
  32. inchrisin

    inchrisin Defender (654) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    The proverbial 'it' was the "never done this" portion of the quote. I was vague and we're starting to split hairs here. :slight_smile: Also, I've got several LHBS guys. I'm starting to hate and distrust most of them and will start following up on their theories much more often. I just assumed these valve checks were as useful as tank pressure gauges on regulators. Also, glad to hear your check valves work.
  33. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (295) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    When you hook up the gas, the beer will absorb enough CO2 to equilibiate. The sugar will add to that. So if you use the same amount of sugar as you would for bottling, you will end up with over carbonated beer. Indeed, if you set it to serving pressure, then any amount of sugar will over carbonate the beer. It's important to use only enough pressure to seal the keg. Then either disconnect or turn off the gas while the yeast does its work.
  34. samtallica

    samtallica Initiate (0) Jul 22, 2010 North Carolina

    Yeah, I understand this. I never left the kegs on gas after priming them. I only used this method back before I got a second chest freezer and had room to force carbonate. Now it's easier just to use that method. If I do run out of room again in the future, I may try priming kegs again.
  35. rjcd

    rjcd Initiate (0) Feb 16, 2011 Indiana

    My 2 cents worth on this... I just kegged (last week) 2 5 gallon kegs from my conical. Since it's a big beer well over 6.5% ABV I added fresh yeast to both as the residual yeast is pretty well spent. Keg 1: Dry hopped immediately without priming sugar (the fresh yeast will help finish fermenting the rest of the residual sugar) as it will be chilled, filtered, force-carbonated and served within a week of kegging. This is my New Age keg. Keg 2: 5 Oz priming sugar added at kegging; it will be dry hopped and fined with Isinglass (no filtering) about a week before serving (2-3 weeks in the keg). This is my Traditional keg. I use a spunding valve so as to never over-carbonate. After 2 days, keg 2 (primed) was up to full carbonation PSI! And keg 1, after 4 days in the keg and relying just on residual sugar, was up to 92% of full carbonation PSI. But keg conditioning isn't just about carbonation... This is my first side-by-side comparison, so we will see...
    pweis909 likes this.
  36. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (295) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    You didn't say how long this sat in the conical but, unless it was a year or more, the 'residual' yeast is easily up to the task of carbonating the beer, given a sufficient food supply (priming sugar). Adding new yeast will do nothing to the residual sugars since anything left is unfermermentable, unless you're using a more attenuative yeast strain, which is a crap shoot, IMO. You go on to say that you're planning to force carb this keg, which means that any yeast or sugar you added is irrelevant.
    I like the idea of a spunding valve. One technique for naturally carbonating a beer is to rack to the keg before primary fermentation is complete and install a spunding valve. Let it finish in the keg and Presto! -- Perfectly carbonated beer! But that's off topic...

    Regarding keg 2 - 'full carbonation PSI' after only two days can be misleading. Presumably, you pressurized the keg to seal it. The beer absorbed much of this CO2 charge. The sugar may still be producing more CO2 (indeed, a full 5 oz of priming sugar plus the sealing gas virtually guarantees over-carbonation, though kegs are much more forgiving, particularly with a spunding valve installed.

    Nevertheless, it's an interesting experiment. Awaiting your conclusions.
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