Monday, January 28, 2008

Refilling a Keg

I am often asked how to one goes about refilling a beer keg. This is an interesting question because the average person really is not interest in refilling a keg. They are interested rather in taking a empty keg or keg shell they have in their possession and converting it into a full keg of beer. There are a number of methods for turning an empty keg into a full one. The first being you can prey to the supreme being of your choice to turn the air inside the keg to beer. For this option I recommend praying to Ninkasi, the Sumerian goddess of beer. Alternitivly you could pray to Ronald Reagan or the Judeo-Christian god among others. Statistically this method is ineffective although I don't have the numbers to back up that statement.
The second option is by far the easiest and most effective, this involves taking one's empty keg shell to their local liquor store and exchanging it for a full keg of beer. Might I recommend any of the fine beers produced by Sierra Nevada as a excellent choice to exchange your empty shell for. A couple things to keep in mind about this option; if you are in California you generally need to have the keg identification sticker on the keg to exchange it. This hasn't tended to be an issue here in Davis, but in Chico you definitely needed the sticker. Also different brewers charge different amounts for keg shell deposits. For example Sierra Nevada charges just twenty five dollars where Widmer Brothers Brewing charges forty to forty five dollars and Pabst charges thirty five. The keg your exchanging your empty shell for might have a higher shell deposit then the shell you are exchanging and you will need to make up the difference.
The last option is by far the hardest and most time consuming option, this involves opening up the keg cleaning out the old stale beer, sterilizing and refilling with home brewed beer. I could spend a whole post talking about how to do this. Basically you will need to brew up about fifteen gallons of beer and then put it in your keg. I am leave a number of steps out. This is an enormous amount of work unless you know exactly what you are doing in which case it is still a lot of manual labor.
If you still want to open your keg shell up for some other reason take a look at the following web site on how to open a sankey type keg. Let me be the first to say this can be a very dangerous and is most often a messy job in which the residual beer sprays all over the place unless you cover the tap with a towel. Even then old warm crummy beer still gets all over.
Why would one want to open a keg up? My best guess is to us it for home brewing or to make the most bad ass batch of jungle juice ever, which I have done and will explain how to do it in a later post.
To summerize again how to refill an empty keg shell you can:
A. Pray to the supreme being of your choice (Ninkasi or Ronald Reagan.)
B. Exchange the empty keg shell for a new keg of beer at your local liquor store.
C. Open, clean, sterilize and fill the empty keg shell with your own home brew.
D. Make a awesome keg stool/seat out of your empty keg shell.
Let me emphasize choice B as it is the only choice for the majority of the population, choice C is just to much work. Even if you have made a batch of home brew before that was likely only five gallons or so this would be fifteen plus gallons. I am not trying to discourage any one, I only want to make you aware of the work involved and how much easier it is to just exchange the empty keg shell for a new full keg of beer. Best of luck to all on your kegging adventures.


Anonymous said...

"Even if you have made a batch of home brew before that was likely only five gallons or so this would be fifteen plus gallons."

That's why you get sixtels. ;)

Anonymous said...

Are you CRAZY? Yes it is time consuming but worth while!

Anonymous said...

A person is asking how to refill a keg because kegging homebrew alot easier then bottling it. There are ALOT of hobby brewers out there and sanitizing bottles is the a huge pain in the but. KEG all the way.

ps you link doesn't work.