Brewing\pressure barrel?

The Homebrew Forum

Help Support The Homebrew Forum:

Dave 666

Regular.
Joined
Jun 5, 2018
Messages
347
Reaction score
66
My other half has suggested I look into getting a barrel in the near future due to the growing number of bottles I'm gathering!. I think she must have had a bump on the head to be so encouraging in my new hobby lol. But hay, her idea not mine, but it has got me thinking though. In that I'm assuming she means a pressure barrel to transfer from the main FV to instead of bottling. Not something I've given any serious thought to myself as I'm sure I've read of issues with pressure levels and carbonation being much lower than bottles and subject to issues like leakage as the pressure barrels tend not to handle the pressure very well at all?.

Anyone offer any insight into pressure barrels as I'm happy with bottling myself, more so in this weather as easier to chill, but certainly an option for the autumn perhaps.
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2016
Messages
8,408
Reaction score
5,322
Location
Sleaford - Lincolnshire
Hmmm! A bit of a "You takes your pick!" answer, because all the methods have their benefits and drawbacks!

Personally:
  • I like bottles but cleaning them, filling them and capping them is a bit of a chore and they weigh a lot; on the other hand, when filled and carbonated they are available for use be it for me on my own or for guests. (BTW, I wouldn't entertain 330ml bottles as they are just too small for me.)
  • I liked MK's but discovered that they weren't the right size for me. I can empty an MK full of a lager or bitter in less than three days so "Too Small"; but I may take a month to drink an MK full of Stout so "Too Big". I'm in the process of getting rid of mine.
  • I like the 25 litre PB's (I have two of them) but putting a full brew into a single barrel means that you have to be certain that you like it. At the moment I have 15 litres of an Oatmeal Stout in a 25 litre PB that has been there since January. I'm not keen on a stout but I brewed it for a mate who became too ill to drink it. (Cancer of the spine and nowt to do with the stout!) I live in hope that he will recover and I can start shifting it over to him otherwise it will be about Christmas before it's finished.
  • I have 2 x 10 litre PB's and they are just fine for beer. Unlike the larger PB's, they don't have a CO2 injection point to keep up the pressure but it's possible to empty the barrel with only a minimum of air ingress if you let the pressure above the beer replace itself naturally. (Okay, you finish up with a flat beer but it tastes okay!)
  • I'd love to have a Corny Keg system but the sheer cost of the system scares the Bejesus out of me; plus you are putting virtually a full brew into a single keg yet again.
  • I've just invested in 2 x 10 litre Growlers from Dark Farms. They have a CO2 injection with pressure control, can be "force carbonated" if required and there is an offer on for members of the Forum. I'm hoping that SWMBO will see the sense in using these as replacements for the MK's and ultimately as replacements for the 25 litre PB's which are now coming up about 4 years old and getting to look it.
I hope this helps and please remember they are my personal thoughts on the subject.


Ref:
https://www.darkfarm.co.uk
 

simon12

THBF Sponsor
THBF Sponsor
Joined
Aug 28, 2014
Messages
2,759
Reaction score
838
Location
Edenbridge Kent
After much messing about with pressure barrels I find them the least hassle to get beer served, once you get them working there the best (I prefer them to cornies which I have with a gas bottle) but I bought 3 new and 5 used to get 3 that work really well 2 top tap king kegs and 1 old no longer produced hambleton bard 1 another would work but the seals are slightly different from any I can find and I have been refunded a few times there just slightly different to the king keg ones every one thinks are the same as are the thread on the lid.
 
Joined
Aug 12, 2015
Messages
8,624
Reaction score
5,622
Hmmm! A bit of a "You takes your pick!" answer, because all the methods have their benefits and drawbacks!

Personally:
  • I like bottles but cleaning them, filling them and capping them is a bit of a chore and they weigh a lot; on the other hand, when filled and carbonated they are available for use be it for me on my own or for guests. (BTW, I wouldn't entertain 330ml bottles as they are just too small for me.)
  • I liked MK's but discovered that they weren't the right size for me. I can empty an MK full of a lager or bitter in less than three days so "Too Small"; but I may take a month to drink an MK full of Stout so "Too Big". I'm in the process of getting rid of mine.
  • I like the 25 litre PB's (I have two of them) but putting a full brew into a single barrel means that you have to be certain that you like it. At the moment I have 15 litres of an Oatmeal Stout in a 25 litre PB that has been there since January. I'm not keen on a stout but I brewed it for a mate who became too ill to drink it. (Cancer of the spine and nowt to do with the stout!) I live in hope that he will recover and I can start shifting it over to him otherwise it will be about Christmas before it's finished.
  • I have 2 x 10 litre PB's and they are just fine for beer. Unlike the larger PB's, they don't have a CO2 injection point to keep up the pressure but it's possible to empty the barrel with only a minimum of air ingress if you let the pressure above the beer replace itself naturally. (Okay, you finish up with a flat beer but it tastes okay!)
  • I'd love to have a Corny Keg system but the sheer cost of the system scares the Bejesus out of me; plus you are putting virtually a full brew into a single keg yet again.
  • I've just invested in 2 x 10 litre Growlers from Dark Farms. They have a CO2 injection with pressure control, can be "force carbonated" if required and there is an offer on for members of the Forum. I'm hoping that SWMBO will see the sense in using these as replacements for the MK's and ultimately as replacements for the 25 litre PB's which are now coming up about 4 years old and getting to look it.
I hope this helps and please remember they are my personal thoughts on the subject.


Ref:
https://www.darkfarm.co.uk

A multiple cornie set up is same price if not cheaper than those growlers
 
Joined
Aug 22, 2014
Messages
3,471
Reaction score
2,381
Location
North Pembs.
For me, I much prefer bottles. There's a certain satisfaction every time you knock off a crown cap and the beer that comes out is predictable. Having said that bottling day is a bit of a pain, but you must know that already.
I've got a decent pressure barrel but hardly ever use it. It's a Wilko one and much better quality than budget PBs. Filling them is obviously much easier than bottling day but after priming and conditioning, the first gallon you draw out will be mostly foam, then you'll get a couple of gallons of well served beer, then the pressure will be all gone and you either have to use CO2 bulbs, or as I do, re-prime the beer that's left and wait a few days before drawing off more beer.
 

MarkBowie

Regular.
Joined
Jul 3, 2016
Messages
408
Reaction score
139
For me it depends on the beer. Pressure barrels are good and hassle free for pale ales and bitters as they don’t need too long conditioning and are better with low carbonation. Any of the “big” beers that benefit from conditioning are better in bottles, as are higher carbonation beers such as lagers and wheats as a pressure barrel won’t produce the carbonation.
 

Bevvied

Life Support System For A Beer Belly
Joined
Aug 26, 2015
Messages
385
Reaction score
359
I think I've tried everything with the exception of a corny set up.
Tap a draft (If that's what the big brown bottle thingy is called), PBs (standard Wilk0's and top tap King keg with all the bells and whistles), CO2 injection and tap for mini kegs and of course bottling.

After spending much time and expense, I've narrowed it down to this.
Easy kegs, 5L. Easy to clean and sterilise. Easy to fill. Prime, carb, store, forget about, then get supped. I use these as I don't like big carbed beers or lagers. They can fit in the household fridge easily. They are the right size for me and I use them for anything 5% and under.

I've got B&M IPA in the FV at the mo, that's got a bit of a hefty ABV so it will be bottled. I wouldn't want to go through 5L of that on a Fri/Sat.

IMO, the king keg, with the pressure dial and co2 injection is a terrific bit of kit, but not practical for me all the time.

It's all apples vs oranges really. For me, it's more pleasurable to do what works (for me) rather than find a system and make it work.
 
Last edited:

Bigjas

Landlord.
Joined
Apr 13, 2016
Messages
548
Reaction score
294
Location
Fareham, Hampshire
I've used bottles, King Keg Pressure barrels and Corny Kegs. For me, Corny Kegs are the way to go. The initial set up cost is a bit more than pressure barrels but they are less likely to leak in my experience. I can also force carb in the corny if needed. Just need a dedicated fridge to keep the kegs in.
 

Clint

Forum jester...🏅🏆
Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2016
Messages
15,802
Reaction score
12,550
Location
North Wales
I bottle,which as said is a pain but convenient as you can move them and chill as required. I also have two plastic pressure barrels which after fettling work fine. Easy to fill but as Dutto says....fill them with something you like...and not easy to chill. Cornies sound good but need the chiller to go with..
For me I suppose a working solution would be a large dedicated beer conditioning fridge that will hold two pressure barrels plus some bottles...now there's an idea!
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2016
Messages
8,408
Reaction score
5,322
Location
Sleaford - Lincolnshire
How much did the 10 litre growlers cost?

2 x 10 litre Growlers + 2 x Pressure Caps (for carbonating - especially whilst travelling) + 1 x Tap and CO2 Pressure Regulator + 5 CO2 "starter" capsules = +/- £220. (Please note that the 15% discount is on the 5 or 10 litre Growler with CO2 Dispenser and Tap as per this link. https://www.darkfarm.co.uk/mini-keg-growler/ )

It will cost me +/-£170 to expand my system with two extra 10 litre Growlers + Pressure Caps (for carbonation).

A multiple cornie set up is same price if not cheaper than those growlers

I think Cornie Kegs are ideal for fixed installations, but in my case I would finish up with 19 litre Cornie Kegs that would be no easier to transport than my current 25 litre PB's; and I would still have "all my eggs in one basket" so to speak.

I like the Growlers because at 10 litres they are low weight, easy to transport and with a forced carbonation potential if needed.

Also, I have just run the cost of my current set up past SWMBO without a murmur so a couple more may be on the cards as a Christmas present from me to me. At this stage, I will retire the 25 litre PB's and stop using the 8 litre Spray Bottle.

At this stage ...
  • 4 x 10 litre SS Growlers
  • 2 x 10 litre plastic PB's
  • 50 x 500ml Capped Bottles
  • 60 x 650ml Flip-Top Bottles
... will give me about 120 litres capacity for carbonation and conditioning as well as the flexibility to transport brews whenever needed.
:thumb:
 

mgrds

Active Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2017
Messages
40
Reaction score
35
Location
NULL
Pressure barrels are great - used them as my main dispense method for 40 odd years
They do great for bitters pales ales amber ales stouts etc.

I've recently started to use cornie kegs mch more
Cornie kegs are best if you want to make a kegerator or keezer - and dispense chilled beer - and i think they look tidier for home dispense.

For travel you can can take a cornie keg with you and use almost immediately with a party tap (if you filed it with clear beer and force carbonated.

I really can't be bothered any more making anything in quantities less that 19 - 23 litres ! And i rarely make anything i don't want to drink any more (benefit of experience )

Cornie kegs can also be used to dispense force carbonated sparkling wine (prosecco style)

But all dispense methods effect mouthfeel and flavour as well as convenience. So do what pleases you!
 

stz

Regular.
Joined
Jul 2, 2018
Messages
246
Reaction score
165
Hate bottling. No matter how ergonomic you make the setup I always loathed doing it. Washing, sanitising, draining, boxing, storing etc. While I can see the benefits (love opening bottles, long term storage, portability) just not for me. You can also spend quite a lot of money on kit to make bottling easier which isn't really required if you don't bottle. Used to have 6 pressure barrels. Hate them too now. Basically a glorified cask which cannot be chilled. Occasionally fail to hold pressure, O rings are a faff, got to drink the beer warm under gravity dispense in a realistic time frame or add co2 via quite expensive single shot cartridges. I put it down to when I didn't know any better.

I have a corny setup now and love it. It did take me almost 10 years to get to this point. Took a while to pull the lever on buying the bits, but oh man. Bottling 'day' is now less than 30 minutes for two kegs. Easy to move, easy to store, easy to chill and dispense and the beer can stay on for a few months. Figure I spent approx £300, including a chest freezer, greenhouse heater, atc1000 temperature controller and hobby box, mountings etc. The chest freezer is also used for temperature control during fermentation.

Only drawback is if you do some weird beer that requires extended ageing or will take a long time to drink, imperial stouts, bretted IPA's etc (though you start accumulating them, I've got 6) and portability. If I need beer to travel I chill the system down to 0C and pour super restricted flow into pop bottles. Budget growler fill. Suppose I could even purge with co2 prior to filling if the mood took me, but the beer displaces oxygen in the bottle as it fills.

Personally I cannot stand exposing my beer to oxygen and pressure barrels are a joke, bottling junk when making ultra hop forward styles. Bottle conditioning is 2 weeks that beer could have been enjoyed fresher. My fermenters are 5gal plastic food grade jerry cans. I've lids drilled with grommets to take airlocks, grommets to take blow off tubes and one with a corny gas post drilled for the lid and a piece of 15mm rigid polypipe to john guest reducing down to 3/8" with tap with rubber o-ring. I dry hop close to final gravity and the next day swap to a plain lid and roll the can each day during the dry hop before swapping to the gas lid before cold crashing.

I sanitise my kegs with boiling water followed by peracetic acid. I seal them up and check for leaks then use gas to push the acid out. Pressurise and vent the keg several times to dilute the normal atmosphere left behind leaving an inert co2 one. Then I hook the fermenter to the keg via the beer side and let the keg bleed pressure from the gas post. A bit of positive pressure in the fermenter and gravity starts a siphon and the keg venting allows pressure to exit. Bringing the pressure up on the fermenter using gas as needed if gravity isn't enough until I've got all the beer and carefully adjusting the height of the racking cane to avoid yeast, trub, dry hop etc and I'm there .. closed pressure transfer under inert gas.

Why do this? Because dissolved oxygen messes up your stupid craft murk jooce like nobodies business. Not uncommon for me to use 16g/L in the boil and 20g/L when dry hopping. Like I'm putting that in a pressure barrel to be drunk warm or a bottling bucket.
 

marshbrewer

Out on the marshes, wailing at the moon.
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2011
Messages
4,580
Reaction score
3,742
Location
East Lindsey, Lincolnshire
King kegs all the way for me, closest thing to cask, so ideal for that style of beer. Obviously, nothing is actually like cask, unless you can sup a full barrels worth in a couple of days, as in a pub the beer engine introduces air (deliberately) into the cask, but if you put a decent tap on a top float king Keg, prime / natrualln condition (whatever you want to call it) and occasionally add co2 from an s30 cylinder to replace the CO2 that come out with the beer, it's the best you are going to get at home if real ale is ya thing IMHO.

I hate bottling, but will bottle any style that suits being more heavily carbonated like lager for instance, or anything that suits being bottle conditioned for ages. Or anything super strength, where one will do, in order not to tie up a keg.

Have no experience of cornie kegs, I'm not interested in force conditioning, but I suspect they could be used like king kegs to naturally carb, I just don't have the need at the moment.

Keeping King Kegs at cellar temperature is a challenge, I'll grant, but not impossible.
 

Clint

Forum jester...🏅🏆
Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2016
Messages
15,802
Reaction score
12,550
Location
North Wales
Do any with limited guests use cornies? Do you find having just a couple of beers on tap gets monotonous? I usually have around four or five different brews bottled as I like to mix it up
 

Latest posts

Top