18 Aug Keg Maintenance
Kegs full of beer are wonderful things but they can turn nasty if they’re not looked after properly, to prevent off flavours and wasted brew we recommend cleaning and maintaining them on a regular basis.
If you’re a kegger an important step in making your beer look great and keeping your keg clean. Filtering is not only a way to get a nice clear beer but this minimises yeasts and hops getting into your keg and clogging up the poppet valves.
When you first get a brand-new keg you should always clean it thoroughly as the manufacturers cleaning process uses a caustic acid solution. This solution is very strong, and smells a lot like 7-up or Sprite. It is important to follow these directions before you use the keg for the first time:
Fill the keg with a solution of water and sodium pre-carbonate (30g to 10L or 2 tablespoons – or 4 desert spoons). Fill it all the way to the top and let everything soak overnight. Pour out the cleaner solution and pour in fresh water and let everything sit for several hours again, or overnight. Pour out the water and your keg is ready to go. Obviously use steriliser if you’re going to fill up the keg with your delicious beer straight away.
Hint: Do not use chlorine (bleach) to clean your kegs as it will pit the inside of the keg.
After emptying a keg of your delicious beer you should clean it as soon as possible. Open the top of the keg and hose it out removing any residue that is in the bottom. If you don’t have the time (because you’re in the middle of a party) when you finish your keg, just take the top off and add a couple of litres of clean water to the bottom to prevent the residue from drying out and becoming stuck , just clean it properly later.
Once the sediment is gone, make a solution of sodium pre-carbonate with about 3L of water (20g or 1 tablespoon or 2 desert spoons), close the lid, and give it a good shake for a few minutes, then take it a back to you kegerator attach your gas and liquid lines and turn your gas on just like if you were going to pour a beer. Place a bucket under your tap. Open the tap and allow the cleaner to run through your line until the keg is empty and then leave it sit for one hour. After an hour rinse out the keg with clean water and then put 5 litres of water into it, then connect it back up to your kegerator and run the clean water through the beer line until the keg is empty.
Note: By doing this, you are cleaning everything at one time, and that will help the equipment last longer and be free from off flavours.
Every 12 months (just like changing the battery in your smoke detector) we recommend that you change your seals and poppet valves in your kegs because the seals can perish and the spring on the poppet valve can lose tension. I can tell you from my own bitter experience that if this happens and you’ve left your gas on you could end up with a keg full of beer all over your floor! We sell complete replacement kits for $7 which is cheap compared to losing a keg of beer. We don’t recommend changing the lid seal every year but you should always check at every use to ensure it’s not getting any flattened edges. If you see this happening you should replace it straight away.
Removing your liquid and gas posts is easy, just use a spanner (or shifter) and unscrew them. There is a O-ring on each post which should be removed and replaced with its duplicate from the kit. On the liquid side lift out the feeder tube and under its rim you will find a small O-ring remove this and replace it with the one from the kit. Feed the tube back into the keg making sure that it seats self in a depression in the bottom of the keg. On the gas side remove the small tube remove the O-ring from under the lip and replace it.
Each post has a poppet valve in it, they should just come out in your hand but if they don’t use a small screwdriver to remove them. Check inside the post to make sure it is clean and if it isn’t given a clean then replace the poppet valves with the new ones in the kit making sure that they are sitting square.
Screw the posts back onto the keg and reattach the lid. Gas keg up to about 25 psi and then check for any leaks using a squirt bottle with some soapy water in it.
When your keg is ready, clean, sterilised and full of beer put a small amount of lube on the gas and liquid posts and reattach to your kegerator and enjoy.