Plastic pressure barrels?

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Dave 666

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So, knowing I'm getting at least 3 brews in for Xmas starting next week and knowing I just won't have the space yet for 120+ odd bottles I'm thinking of putting the stout brew into one of those plastic pressure barrels as looking at upgrading my equipment somewhat from bottles. But I've always read mixed reviews about them, mainly in leaking taps and leaking pressure etc.

So, is this a major issue of concern or more to pay attention to the process?. I don't want full bottle carbonation, but do like a little fizz. So would I still need the little co2 cylinders to screw into the top or to top the pressure up as the brew gets drunk?. Also, how long does a brew in these pressure barrels typically last?, are we talking weeks than months?. And any other things with plastic pressure barrels I need to consider?, such as is it worth paying the extra for the king keg ones over the generic budget brands seeing as they assumingly do exactly the same job?, thanks.
 

An Ankoù

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Go for it. I used them for years. Sometimes they leak and you need to wipe the seals with vaseline. Don't recall having a leaking tap though.
Gas bottles (Hambleton Bard) can be a bit hit and miss, but, by and large the system works well enough
Don't go for the sparklets bulb system and don't waste your money on king kegs. The tap should be at the bottom of the keg.
 
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Hi Dave I have 3 1 youngs and 2 wilko never had a prob, the youngs one is a bit of a bugger to clean due to the 2 inch top and the seal in the lid you have to keep an eye on but it always holds it's pressure, I always use vasaline everytime I fill them I never use gas, for nomal normal ales like bitter and the like 80g of sugar melted in a little water,
 
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I have two that I inherited when we moved into our house 19 years ago. They sat in the shed until last year when I 'reconditioned' them. They've been good so far. 80g of priming sugar for me too but I don't manage to get right to the bottom of the keg without adding a little gas. The sparklet bulbs were just too much faff so I'm using a sodastream to s30 adapter and it works like a charm to put a small charge of co2 in near the end of the barrel.
 
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I have had four plastic PBs in the last four years or so. Even though I looked after them, three have either developed splits along the seam or pinhole leaks in the shell. I have even had a cap split although I had a spare. I am now left with one PB which I don't trust.
I have gone back to using all bottles. I don't think plastic PBs are worth the faff, expense and uncertainty, even though, when they are working properly they are very convenient.
 
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A cheap and simple way is heavy duty cubes. I have pressure tested to 180 kpa, they are food safe HDPE costs me 9 AUD .
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kelper

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I have three King Keg top tap PBs. They are fitted with Schrader valves so I can test them, before use, with a tyre pump. The top tap can leak where the float hose joins the tap. This leaks gas into the beer when dispensing. Easily cured by new O-rings from eBay. I have also put fuel pipe clips on the hose fittings. You can dispense without having to put the barrel on a shelf or table and the beer is nice and clear. I do add gas near the end. I use 16g bulbs with a bicycle tyre inflator so that I can add just the right amount. Sometimes a full bulb is too much and the relief 'valve' operates, wasting gas. 80 to 100g of sugar for priming. I don't see why the beer shouldn't last as long as you want.
 
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Know your limitations, a low ABV beer I will put the full volume into a cask or cube. A cube of a 20 lire will actually hold 23 litres, 3 litres head space 25 litres is 28 litres including head space.
So if I can empty a 20 litre batch with in a week I will use a picnic pump to pump air into the cask, cube. Gives the beer no time to go off before it is finished, in fact it is better towards the end.
 

simon12

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I had a good few cheap pressure barrels which were a bit hit and miss most the tap would drip slightly. I then got 3 king keg top taps from someone used (may have been someone on here I can't remember) which I never had any trouble with but the float bit they have was a bit more hassle to sterilise so if I was buying now I would get a king keg bottom tap.
 

Dave 666

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Thanks for the replies, so mixed thoughts and hit and miss on weather you get a worthwhile barrel without issues?, which is my main concern.
 

An Ankoù

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I would go for it. Get the cheapest pressure barrels you can find provided they're in good nick and just do it. Prime as suggested above and make sure you've got a pressure relief valve. As it's Christmas you're brewing for, you should be able to get through a barrel at a session with a few mates.
If not, then you can pour the beer as long as there's pressure in the barrel and it keeps coming out of the tap. After that, you'll need to loosen the lid and to let air in otherwise the beer won't pour. It'll still be great, but from that point on, it'll start spoiling.
I'm going to start looking into using 5litre party kegs which works on the same principle.
 

kelper

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King Kegs are about £50. Look on eBay or Gumtree for good, used ones. Top tap will let you get all but half a pint out. Bottom tap will have quite a bit left and, if you tip the barrel this will disturb the sediment.
 
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Get the cheapest pressure barrels you can find provided they're in good nick.
I'm going to start looking into using 5litre party kegs which works on the same principle.
Wont the cheapest PBs be the most likely to fail early? They aren't exactly precision bits of kit. I had one that lasted all of 13 months which Youngs, to their credit, replaced although the replacement didn't last much longer. And how do you assess whether a PB is 'in good nick' especially if you are buying on-line?
I would have thought the OP would have been better looking at 5 litre kegs like you are doing.

King Kegs are about £50. Look on eBay or Gumtree for good, used ones. Top tap will let you get all but half a pint out. Bottom tap will have quite a bit left and, if you tip the barrel this will disturb the sediment.
If you buy a s/h PB off ebay you have no idea how its been treated, how many times its been overpressurised , or what state it's in, especially if you haven't seen it before you spend your hard earned. If you are going to buy a PB at least buy a new one that will give you 12 months service with the warranty, rather than something that fails the first time you use it.
 
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