Kegenator addition

Posted by Nate in Homebrewing.
Friday, February 23rd, 2007 at 4:05 pm

An artist’s rendering of what the addition might look like.
(cutaway view)

The kegenator is almost exactly a year old.  It has faithfully poured many a hearty pint in that year, but lately it’s started to seem a little, I don’t know, lonely…  It must need a friend!

Our trip to Scotland gave us the chance to sample many cask-poured real ales (check out CAMRA), and gave me a hankering to replicate that sort of flavor at home.  A quick look at prices told me that a full beer engine was out of reach – let alone the two I wanted! – which left me looking for alternatives.  Real ale is often hand-pumped (via the "engine") from the cellar, but it used to be much more commonly poured from a chest-level cask.

With that in mind, I’ve set out to create an affordable-yet-delicious real ale serving setup at home.  I’m designing a separate chamber to hold the inverted kegs above the level of the faucets, and will rig up some ducts and a fan to pull in just enough air from the kegerator to keep this new chamber at "cellar temperature", about 52 degrees F.  The happy side benefit to this temperature and the fact the kegs are elevated is I’ll have plenty of room underneath for lager fermentation!  Holy two birds with one stone, batman!

… of course, we’re forecast to be snowed in this weekend, so I may be forced to delay this project.  Hopefully not too long, though, last night I transferred a British Bitter into one of the inverted kegs – it should be naturally carbonating as I type and ready within a week or two.  AND there’s a Scottish 80 Shilling fermenting now!  Yum…

Pictures of the build coming soon, I hope.

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5 Responses to “Kegenator addition”

  1. Victoria O. Says:

    Very cool set up Nate! One question – what do you have filling the space in the keg as it empties (air, CO2)? It seems that it would have to be CO2 to keep the beer from going bad, but then you wouldn’t need to put the keg upside down to feed the tap. . . my confusion may be from my lack of “real ale” knowledge.

  2. nator Says:

    Wow, good question right off the bat! And yeah, that’s an issue I’m still sort of struggling with… Technically, “real ale” is vented and as beer is drawn off it’s replaced with regular air, resulting in a change of flavor, etc. However, that really only works if you can polish off a keg in about 72 hours, otherwise it will definitely go bad.

    So I have two plans:
    1. Set up a third keg full of CO2 as a “buffer” between the empty space and the air. I’ll pull CO2 from the bottom of this buffer (counting on CO2 being heavier than air) into the gravity kegs, and over time the buffer keg will fill with air from the vent on top. Hard to explain, but I’ve heard that this can keep a keg good for up to a month while still allowing some flavor change.

    2. (probably what I’ll do in the meantime) I have a spare regulator so I’ll just get it as low as I possibly can (1-2 PSI) and use it to replace any vacuum with CO2. I’ll have to experiment with this a bit to make sure I don’t get any backflow or anything…

    We’ll see how it goes!

  3. troy Says:

    You are a marvel to me and my AA group! :)

  4. Q Says:

    Impressive. Most impressive.

  5. Rick Says:

    Yowza – you just keep moving it up a notch! Very exciting, and I look forward to sampling some from the new “addition”.