All homebrewers can relate to this. Before you sits your beer, happily finished with its magic process of fermentation. The beer sits there in the carboy, waiting only for some carbonation, crying out to be bottled and drunk. Yet the will to bottle is weak. The idea of spending two hours prepping bottles, cleaning tools, meticulously filling each bottle of beer, capping the bottles and praying that no infection sets in is daunting. You have better things to do. So the beer sits another week. And then another. Finally, it occurs to the homebrewer “perhaps there’s a better way” and so the path to kegging bear is made clear.
Now, don’t get us wrong. Bottled beer is cool. It’s neat being able to bring a six pack over to your friends house to share. As you can see by the Nickel City beer labels, it doesn’t take much to make the presentation shine. The problem is that bottling 5 gallons of beer just isn’t much fun. Brewing is a labor of love. Bottling is just a labor.
Years ago Nickel City faced the same conundrum. Of course kegs are simple, but aren’t they expensive? We started brewing beer because we were too cheap to buy it. Homebrewers are notorious cheapskates. We fight over every purchase, from a glass carboy to a fifty cent piece of tubing. How could we justify that kind of expense? Gentlemen and ladies, you and only you may judge what your time is worth, but I ask you. How much would somebody have to pay for for a day of bottling their beer? You would soon see the true expense of time that you spend getting that beer into those brown bottles. We are only on this earth for a limited time. Those hours you spend bottling will never be returned to you.
Nickel City Brewing got lucky in those early days. While searching craigslist for miscellaneous brewing supplies we stumbled upon an offer too good to be true. A homebrewer, who when forced to chose between his wife and his hobby made the wrong choice, was offering to sell all his equipment. Equipment that included 4 kegs.
4 kegs. A CO2 tank. A regulator. Almost all one needs to start kegging. Over the next few weeks we’ll talk a little bit about what you need to make your system work….and it’s not as tough as you might think.
So all of a sudden, the sad, lonely beer sitting in those carboys that sat neglected had a home. After buying a few pieces of new tubing, we sunk the siphon in the carboy, put the other end in the keg (making sure that both vessels we’re covered with tin foil to prevent infection!) and walked away. That was it. No measuring of priming sugar. No individual filling of 49 bottles of beer, and capping them. No sterilization and cleaning of bottles.
3 days later we were pouring frothy beer into pitchers, and drinking to a new stage of homebrewing. Victory never tasted so sweet. Yes, cheapskate homebrewers, the money is well spent.
Next: we discuss the nitty gritty of kegging.