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Pressure barrels, what's going on?

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Arcs

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Recently I have found that during having the beer that we so love, that, I am getting half way through drinking it and there is no pressure or carbonation in my brews. I am adding the correct amount of sugar to the barrel.

At first it gushes out real quick and somewhat uncontrollably from the barrel when I start it. So I get half way, take off the top of it and add yet more sugar and give it a shake and things get much much better. But as I said, what's going on here? Why is this happening? :c
 

kelper

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Is it a top tap or bottom tap? I always have to add CO2 to dispense a full barrel, sometimes four or more 8g bulbs.
 

terrym

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@Arcs
I think most PBs require a top up of gas or priming sugar at some point so your experience is not uncommon.
I used to operate three budget PBs (before two of them developed leaks) which were the sort with a cap that only had a relief valve so I could only re-pressure with priming sugar. On a charge of 90g sugar sometimes I could get down to the bottom of the PB sometimes only half way, and this was usually dependant on the time of year and the temperature of the beer, so in summer there was less dissolved CO2 in the beer and more in the gas space and I could get further down. However I was never tempted to add more than 90g sugar since I believe that this can pressure stress the PB, especially down the seams.
But there is a possibility that you have a PB with tiny leak. If it's in the liquid area you will see it, but in the gas space clearly tyou won't. You could try soapy water, especially round the cap and its joints, and the seams, though I have had pin hole leaks elsewhere.
More on PBs here
https://www.thehomebrewforum.co.uk/threads/guide-to-a-standard-home-brew-pressure-barrel.67042/
And finally I've given up on PBs since in spite of their convenience they are more trouble than they are worth.
 

foxbat

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You need to add gas through the valve in the top to compensate for the increase in head space caused by pulling pints.
 

Arcs

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This is just a cheap PB that I bought second hand. It's been ok up to now. Well, both of them are, I just don't understand why at full capacity they work normally and then not. I guess we'll see how well they perform as the weather cools down - heads up to TerryM. What was so weird tho at the two gall one, was that I topped it up with just ahem I dunno cuz I just drank it (hic!) it was 4 teaspoons of sugar. But only left it an hour after I gave it a shake to mix in the sugar (cane sugar) and actually it was and I say was because it's now in the loo ;o much better than it had been through the process of drinking it earlier save for the first few pints.

I can't put carbon in these barrels, they aint king kegs. Seriously thinking of an upgrade but thanks for the advice!
 

foxbat

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It worked after shaking not because of the sugar but because you shook CO2 out of suspension. Basically you picked up and shook a big fizzy drink. You'll get a few pressurised pours after that but it'll be flatter than before because you shook the CO2 out of it.
 

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Ok fair enuff, but uhm dunno why it tasted better but what ever. Time to look at corny kegs when I have some cash. No growlers, no space :c ie have room for 2 more kegs but not multiple growlers ^^
 

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Prior to the hokey cokey it was flat as a pancake but nvm, my intestines, liver and pancreas have dealt with now ;)
 

Gulpitdarn

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I'm completely new to Pressure barrels and will be filling my first, a two gallon one, tomorrow. To help know what is happening with it I have just fitted a 15 psi gauge and S30 valve. I'll be testing it and filling with water later this morning and pressurising it up (10 psi) for 24 hours just to see if all holds. The gauges are not expensive, think mine were around £4 off of ebay, and hopefully will give assurance as to how barrel performs.
 

simon12

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I'm completely new to Pressure barrels and will be filling my first, a two gallon one, tomorrow. To help know what is happening with it I have just fitted a 15 psi gauge and S30 valve. I'll be testing it and filling with water later this morning and pressurising it up (10 psi) for 24 hours just to see if all holds. The gauges are not expensive, think mine were around £4 off of ebay, and hopefully will give assurance as to how barrel performs.
If you pressure it with CO2 with water it will dissolve and loose pressure so to test don't put any water in.
 

kelper

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I've tested with water and the pressure drops initially and then stabilises. I've also used air for testing as I have Schrader valves fitted. That works too. I half fill it and then turn it every which way looking for drips.
 

Gulpitdarn

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That's a good note on Co2 & water, I don't really know much chemistry. Didn't want to waste my new Co2 so used air from my workshop compressor. Good tip from Kelper too!

pic barrel test.jpg
 

kelper

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I used the electric tyre pump from my car! Just be wary, some industrial compressed air is oily or smelly and might taint the barrel.
 

terrym

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Lets be clear, PBs are pressurised vessels and in the wrong cirumstances can be dangerous. Anyone testing their PB on air alone is reminded that if your PB fails catastrophically due to overpressure it can explode, whereas a PB filled with mostly water yet pressurised may fail but won't cause the same type of explosion, based on the fact that gases are compressible whereas liquids generally are not. And if its asecond hand PB who knows what condition it is in? And modifying a PB when you don't know really what you are doing is in my view a dangerous thing to do.
We had a thread on here recently about Safe Brewing born out of an accident, please don't let's have an addendum.
 

Gulpitdarn

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Lets be clear, PBs are pressurised vessels and in the wrong cirumstances can be dangerous. Anyone testing their PB on air alone is reminded that if your PB fails catastrophically due to overpressure it can explode, whereas a PB filled with mostly water yet pressurised may fail but won't cause the same type of explosion, based on the fact that gases are compressible whereas liquids generally are not. And if its asecond hand PB who knows what condition it is in? And modifying a PB when you don't know really what you are doing is in my view a dangerous thing to do.
We had a thread on here recently about Safe Brewing born out of an accident, please don't let's have an addendum.
I quite agree Terry and it's a good reminder to make! this is another reason why I'm keen to add a pressure gauge, there is also a working pressure warning on the barrel to not exceed 10 psi. It's also an opportunity to test that the pressure release band on the S30 is up to scratch as well. :thumba:
 

kelper

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If the PB has a S30 valve fitted then it's not dangerous. A plastic barrel won't turn into sharp fragments, it will just split at a seam. But it is a good idea to fill the barrel with water as you will need less air to get a reasonable pressure.
 

terrym

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As I said 'PBs are pressurised vessels and in the wrong circumstances can be dangerous'. S30 and bulb injection valves rely on a rubber band to relieve overpressure, as do 2" caps with just the fitted RV. To say this is crude is an understatement imo, and I for one have never had complete confidence in these things. Hook up your PB to a compressor and who knows what can happen.
And its nothing to do with using less air if you part fill with water to do a pressure test, it's about reducing the hazard caused by the stored energy that a PB filled with pressurised air that can dissipate in a fraction of a second if things go wrong, compared to a smaller volume of air in a PB mostly filled with water. Yet even in those circumstances it is far easier to overpressure the PB due to the smaller air volume especially if you are using a compressor.
But the bottom line in all of this is think and act safe. athumb..
 

kelper

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But the CO2 is far more dangerous! At 20C the pressure is 57bar - that's 840psi. I've had regulators that don't shut off properly and 'leak' gas into the barrel. But the rubber band released the pressure. I can't find any reports on the internet of anyone being injured by a plastic pressure barrel. There are several accounts of men being killed by metal barrels or kegs. It's certainly a good idea to remove the rubber band occasionally and check that the hole is clear. I suppose it could get blocked with crud. I wouldn't call it crude - it's simple and that's a good thing. No moving parts to seize. If anyone wants to test their PB with air they could use a foot pump or bicycle pump. I would never encourage the use of an industrial compressor.
 

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