Bottling is the most painful and tedious task in the brewing process. The main benefit of kegging is that it is far less work than bottling. Several years ago, I got so sick of peeling labels off the bottles, sanitizing and cleaning them, filling them, and capping each one. It was at that point when I decided to start kegging my beers.
In fact, it is so much easier that once I started, I found myself brewing far more often. In addition, kegging offers the option to force-carbonate your beer (I'll cover this in another post) and most importantly, it's fun. I love coming home and pouring myself a beer out of the tap. It never gets old.
There are only a couple downsides I can think of in kegging. If your beer is in a keg, you can't give out bottles for people to try (just have a party instead), and once you tap the keg, there is no setting bottles aside for later. You will probably drink it faster. Also, it takes a good amount of equipment that you need to purchase, store, and learn how to use.
In this post, I will go over what you need to start kegging. I'll cover how it's done in another post.
Here is what you need:
1) A Keg - The Cornelius Keg aka "Soda Keg"
The Cornelius Keg or "Soda Keg" was originally used to dispense soda. Some restaurants and bars still use this type of system for their soda but it's very outdated at this point. The most common use of this type of keg now is for home brewing, because they are easy to clean. As you can see in the photo, the top pops right off and allows you to get inside there to easily clean it out. In addition, they have separate ports for gas (in) and liquid/beer "out" which is different the the standard keg you are used to seeing. Having these separate ports is also very useful as you will see in my next post on kegging.
Soda Keg, lid off:
Ports for In/Gas (bottom of photo) and Out/Beer (top):
If you look inside the keg beneath the Out/Beer port you can see the stem that runs to the bottom of the keg. How it works is the gas creates pressure in the keg, and when you open the beer tap, the beer is pushed up through that little stem from the bottom, out the beer port, through the keggerator lines and out the tap into your glass.
2) Gas Tank filled with CO2 + Air Regulator
You can get these at homebrew shops but I would recommend checking into an air/welding store. It is way cheaper there and you will need to get it filled by them anyway. You will also need a regulator to control the pressure.
3) Keggerator/Beermeister + All the Tubes and Fittings
Buy one or make one. I made my own. It will save a lot of money if you want to do this and you can use better parts. I will also post on how to build one of these too.
That pretty much covers it. Next post I will show you how to get the beer into the keg.