Guide to a Standard Home Brew Pressure Barrel

Discussion in 'Beer Brewing "How-To" Guides' started by terrym, Nov 21, 2016.

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  1. Nov 21, 2016 #1

    terrym

    terrym

    terrym

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    This guide covers the standard 'budget' home brew '5 gallon' pressure barrel (PB) widely available in homebrew shops and on-line, typically for about?25 to ?35. It might be of use to people thinking about buying one or new owners who want to get the best out of it. It does not cover the more expensive PBs like King Kegs although some of the principles are the same.
    Standard PBs are usually designed for 15psig and this may be stamped on the shell itself, although some older designs are only designed for 10psig. Barrels sold as 'cider barrels' are not normally designed for any internal pressure and so should not be used to hold pressurised beer.

    What You Will Get
    a moulded food grade plastic shell with openings for a cap at the top and a dispensing tap at the bottom
    - a screw threaded cap usually or diameter and fitted with a pressure relief device (see later) and optionally a valve suitable for either CO2 injection by one shot bulbs or controlled flow from a larger S30 type cylinder; sometimes caps are fitted with a pressure gauge or provision to measure the internal pressure using a tyre pressure gauge or similar; note that you cannot get a hand inside a PB with a 2” cap e.g. to clean it, whereas you can with a 4 cap PB
    - a round sealing gasket which fits inside the cap and which mates with the PB cap opening rim
    - a dispensing tap with seal gasket(s); these are usually tapered thread (certainly for fitting to a 2 cap type PB), or alternatively perhaps, a tap with a backing nut (for 4?cap PBs only)

    If you have acquired a second hand PB you might consider replacing the cap and tap with new.

    Your New PB
    ]Prior to first time use it is advisable to
    - check as far as possible all the cap valve fittings are fully tightened
    - check the rim of the PB top opening (where the cap gasket locates) is completely flat and has no high spots; if not, very carefully remove any high spots with a fine file making sure you keep the mating surface entirely flat
    ]- for tapered taps remove the tap, put a smear of Vaseline on the gasket and refit using a few turns of PTFE tape on the thread
    - for backing nut taps put a smear of Vaseline on the gaskets and refit
    - clean the barrel inside with soapy water, rinse thoroughly with clean water and then completely fill with water or better still very dilute bleach solution and leave it for 24 hours, this should remove any plastic smells/taste which may taint your beer
    optional]; prior to first use with beer it is a good idea to pressure test your PB; one cheap and easy method can be done by filling the PB with 23 litres water, adding 90g sugar, adding some yeast, and then placing in a warm place for a few days which duplicates the carbonation cycle of a brew; if the PB and fittings are leaktight, within a few days you should be able to dispense carbonated water under pressure and have no liquid leaks from the tap or the PB shell (particularly along the manufacturing seals); (some may prefer to test their PB with CO2 injection rather than by the sugar carbonation method above)

    Using with Beer
    inspect cap sealing gasket for damage or excessive marking from previous use; sometimes some of the original shape can be recovered by leaving the gasket in off-the-boil water for a few minutes; if in doubt replace with new
    - ensure PB inside and cap is clean and sanitised
    - ensure tap is in closed position (note the lever type tap is fully closed when at 90* to tap hole, not when fully pushed round)
    - fill with beer and priming sugar as required
    ]- ensure seal is correctly placed inside cap, then lightly smear Vaseline on mating surfaces of gasket and PB cap opening rim
    ]- screw on cap to position of resistance then one quarter turn; more and the seal may distort and the joint may leak
    - inject with CO2 as required if that's how you intend to pressurise your PB
    ]- that's it, done except.

    Tips and Troubleshooting
    the safest way to release pressure from a pressurised PB is to put the PB on its side and release the pressure through the tap; do not try to unscrew the cap since you have no control over the cap under pressure and it could go anywhere
    - if, after a few days after filling and priming and keeping in a warm place to allow the yeast to carbonate the beer, the beer is flat, it is likely that the cap is leaking; in that case you will need to inspect the cap, so release the pressure, check all fittings for leak tightness, clean up the gasket and refit as above; reprime as required
    -after you have drawn off some beer from the PB do not allow falling internal pressure to get to the point where, as you dispense beer, air glugs through the tap; this may spoil your beer; always reprime or add CO2 before this happens]optional[/B][/I]; some users purge the headspace of the PB with a CO2 shot after filling to lower the oxygen content; this is done by a squirt of CO2 or discharge of a CO2 bulb then venting the headspace gas

    ]Priming and PB Pressure
    Standard PBs are usually designed for 15psig and this may be stamped on the shell itself, although some older designs are only designed for 10psig. Normal recommended sugar priming rate is about 90g table sugar (or equivalent) for 23 litres. If you add more sugar there is a small chance you will pressure stress the PB, even more and the pressure relief will vent the excess CO2 protecting the PB (and you) from catastrophic failure. In any case carbonation of 90g table sugar will allow the PB to be emptied to a fairly low level before repriming or CO2 injection is required. Additionally, dispensing highly overcarbonated beer from a PB tap requires a degree of patience
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 12, 2018
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  2. Nov 28, 2016 #2

    pjbarber1968

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    Very good read and very helpful, ive been away from the hobby of beer and lager for awhile, but as chrimbo is close by i decided to put a coopers lager on the go, what recommendations would you give for putting it into a keg instead of bottles.

    Cheers Paul
     
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  3. Nov 28, 2016 #3

    Dutto

    Dutto

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    Ouch!! It's only four weeks to Boxing Day so what you get will be, at best, just a close resemblance to a decent brew!

    However, in view of the speed required I suggest:

    1. Ferment for the minimum of two weeks.

    2. On Day 14 - syphon the brew directly into a sanitised King Keg Top-Tap. (The beer is taken from a floating take off on a Top-Tap.)

    3. Day 14 - add only 80 grams of sugar for carbonating and put in a warm place. (This will give you some pressure but more importantly it will allow the lager to start clearing.)

    4. Day 18 - check that pressure is building in the keg by opening the tap to take a small amount of beer. (If there is no pressure then the lid is probably not on properly so tighten and try again in another two days.)

    4. Day 24 - lift the keg very gently and take it to a nice cold place. (The colder the better this side of +2 degrees will again help the beer to clear.)

    5. Day 28 - very gently move the keg to where the beer is to be dispensed and try your first pint. It may be cloudy (in which case don't worry it will get better as time goes by) and it won't taste as good as it will by the New Year.

    6. Day 28 onwards - use CO2 capsules to maintain pressure in the keg until it is emptied. :thumb:

    BTW

    Somewhere around NOW you should be starting on your second brew! It's amazing how quickly a keg can get emptied.

    Enjoy! :thumb:
     
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  4. Nov 28, 2016 #4

    pms67

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    Dutto i would say it will be "drinkable" , maybe even "palatable" 😉
    Sorry mate
     
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  5. Nov 29, 2016 #5

    pjbarber1968

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    Cheers Guys

    Been too bloody busy with the stronger stuff and put beer on hold.

    Cheers Paul
     
  6. Dec 22, 2016 #6

    Clint

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    My pumpkin beer has been kegging for nearly three weeks and was moved out to the shed a few days ago. On initial setup up the tap had a little weep from the tap not where it screws in..anyway this stopped after putting the lever to 90 and has been dry until moving. The tap now seems to have the slight weep again,it is beer ,I've tried moving the lever etc...I won't draw any beer until tonight to see if it's lost pressure. I assume it did carbonate as I drew a line on the barrel at beer level and the level dropped as the barrel swelled...it's been cold out but not freezing would this affect it? What next?

    Cheers

    Clint
     
  7. Dec 22, 2016 #7

    Redron

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    I am a big fan of kegging beer now I have got my kegs sorted. Saves an awful lot of time cleaning and sanitising bottles, plus kegged beer is less gassy and more resembles decent pub beer, as in creamy with a tight head.
    I use three King Keg bottom taps with s30 valves, which, to be honest, I very rarely need to use any additional co2. Periodic checking, cleaning, and re vaselining the cap and tap means a good consistent seal.
    Replacing the standard tap is a good idea too. I use the Alumasc taps, these give a good 'pour' and are nicer to use than the standard tap.
    The trick, as mentioned, is to spend a little initial time thoroughly checking all the joints and lube well with Vaseline. Also, and very importantly, is not to over tighten the cap or the tap, a good hand tighten is more than enough otherwise you will damage rubber seals, I know, I've done it !
     
  8. Mar 28, 2017 #8

    AlanManley

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    Quick question...

    Can you bottle from a PB/King Keg? For example of you wanted to take a couple of bottle away?
     
  9. Feb 28, 2018 #9

    Ajhutch

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    I realise this is an old thread but after a couple of ‘make it up as I go along’ experiences with PBs I thought I should actually read up and try to use the PB properly next time. My question is about scaling the priming sugar. I’ve got a new 10L pressure barrel which says it is rated for 10psi. So if I start from the 90g of priming sugar to do a 23L barrel at 15psi is the following accurate or too simplistic?

    90g * 10/23 * 10/15 = 26g
     
  10. Nov 27, 2018 #10

    Clint

    Clint

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    Does anyone know if a king keg 4" lid will fit the Wilko "improved" pb? I think the co2 valve is playing up on mine as I'm having to squeeze a bit of card into the co2 bulb holder to get the bulb to pierce. Then it seems that the gas isn't fully expelling into the barrel but escaping through the pressure relief bit...the barrel sometimes seems like it's losing pressure. I've fettled it as I did with my other Hb online barrel and that's fine. So...any suggestions? There's about 15 pints in it ATM.
     
  11. Nov 28, 2018 #11

    BridgeBrew

    BridgeBrew

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    Yep Clint the new Wilko barrel's have the same size thread as the KKs, i think they are better top's then the KK top's they are deeper, and seal better imo
     
  12. Nov 28, 2018 #12

    Clint

    Clint

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    Sorry not understanding...which do you think are better?
    Thanks.
     
  13. Nov 28, 2018 #13

    BridgeBrew

    BridgeBrew

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    The Wilko cap's are better in my opinion, they are a bit deeper, and are a lot easier to tighten with a plastic cap spanner, as the fin's are more prominent. I had a KK cap jump off the thread when tightened, so replaced with the deeper Wilko barrel cap, and it tightened down, and sealed great :)
     

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