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Low tech kegging? How cheap can you go?

So, I’m intrigued by kegging but don’t have the cash for the keggerator, keezer, co2 lines, tanks, taps, etc. I like to keep things low tech.

Could one buy a used keg and hand pump for carbonation and keep cold using the wonderful natural cold of Wisconsin?

Is that even possible to do?
That is: have a keg without the co2 equip, the keggerator and the rest?
Does anyone have a low tech set up?

[quote=“masquelle”]So, I’m intrigued by kegging but don’t have the cash for the keggerator, keezer, co2 lines, tanks, taps, etc. I like to keep things low tech.

Could one buy a used keg and hand pump for carbonation and keep cold using the wonderful natural cold of Wisconsin?

Is that even possible to do?
That is: have a keg without the co2 equip, the keggerator and the rest?
Does anyone have a low tech set up?[/quote]
All my 6 kegs are used or reconditioned. I think I paid $65 for the most expensive one. Got my other kegging equipment from kegconnection.com.

You could naturally carb with sugar in the keg then hand pump to serve I guess.

If you have a garage or storage shed that would keep it above freezing you could use that for cold storage. I think freezing for beer is between 28-30 depending on alcohol content.

You could use a hand pump but you would need to drink it right away. I have some ideas though. Adventures in home brewing has used pin locks for 35$ and nine shipping. You could bottle condition in the keg and then hand pump for a keg party or bottle condition and then get one of those little co2 cartridge things that you can hook right on your post connector. Couldn’t regulate serving pressure but it will work.

It may be to cold out there outside. Keep it in the basement. Ales should be served a little warmer than lagers. 45deg or so

Even if it is cold enough, the temperature fluctuations will make it nearly impossible to properly carbonate and keep it that way. Carbonation is affected by temperature and pressure so every time the temperature goes down, the beer will become more carbonated.

If you want the beer to be on tap for more than a single serving session, I think the minimum you need is a keg, a picnic tap, a way to push out the beer with CO2 and a way to keep it cold. Deals on reconditioned kegs pop up all the time, just keep your eyes open. A picnic tap is pretty cheap. I personally would advocate getting a CO2 tank and regulator rather than the little CO2 chargers; it costs more up front, but you’ll save so much on CO2 costs that you’ll break even pretty quickly. That leaves a cold space, and used fridges are also pretty inexpensive, though like with the CO2, it might be less costly in the long run to spend more up-front and get a new energy efficient one.

My initial set up was a chest freezer w/ temp controller (that I used for fermentations when I didn’t have anything in the keg), keg, 5 lb tank, regulator, picnic tap. To Greg’s point, temp fluctuations may make it problematic to have beer with consistent carbonation.

You can probably find a 5# tank and regulator for pretty cheap, along with a reconditioned keg. Check Craigslist for old fridges in your area. Sometimes people will even give them to you if you come pick it up for them. Rip out the shelves and you have a temp-controlled chamber for your kegs.

Kegging is great, and I may be in the minority with this opinion, but I think it comes with its own set of challenges/pains in the arse. So I do not subscribe to the opinion that “kegging is sooooo much easier than bottling…brah.”

I agree if you want to keep it simple just bottle. IMO it doesn’t save time kegging if you are going to bottle anyway. Save up and do it right, you’ll save in the long run.

If you wanted to go real lo-fi, you could grab one of these, rack to soda bottles and carb in those. You’d still need a tank, regulator and quick connect though.

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/the-carbonator.html

I guess I’m just not sure what your objective is. Do you want to have your beer kegged for the sake of having a keg or is there another advantage of a kegging setup that appeals to you?

These are all super helpful. My goal would be to just keg for 2 reasons: bottling day becomes much simpler. 1 vessel! Done!

And beer on tap!

I wondered if there might not be a way to do this without the costly and time consuming steps of get another fridge, buy all these co2 tanks, regulators, etc.

Being cold enough (yes too cold for continual outside storage – high of 2° on Monday) but it seemed bringing it back and forth or putting in a sleeping bag in a trashcan might temper the weather changes a bit and remove the need for a new fridge.

If there were a hand pump option or some such, I wondered if that might not be impossible. But it seems the co2 keeps it fresh as much as it carbonates.

What did they do in the 1700s? How did the store their ales?

I also kind of just like the idea of simplicity. Buy grain in bulk. Grow own hops. Harvest and repitch yeast. Bottle in one vessel. Do things simple and easy. (I have two kids and a work that demands travel, limited time and limited spare cash.)

Wondered if there might not be a way to do it easy with out co2 tanks and another fridge, etc.

Oh, well! I’ll just save up slowly or wait until the kids are out of college. :slight_smile:

Well besides corking bottles they would condition the beer in barrels and then use a dispensing machine that would pull the beer as opposed to pumping it so no oxygen was added. I’ve had beer dispensed that way. I believe you could probably find instructions how to make one on YouTube. If you have a basement it is probably the right temperature to keep your beer.

They mostly stored them in wooden barrels, and drank them quickly once tapped. Or used bottles with corks.

I agree that kegging is a great way to package and store beer. It does have its own challenges in how to maintain the equipment, but it beats futzing around with bottles, and it is so nice to be able to pour a half glass when that’s what I want.

They mostly stored them in wooden barrels, and drank them quickly once tapped. Or used bottles with corks.

I agree that kegging is a great way to package and store beer. It does have its own challenges in how to maintain the equipment, but it beats futzing around with bottles, and it is so nice to be able to pour a half glass when that’s what I want.[/quote]

Agreed. Kegging does definitely have its own set of challenges, it’s a different area of expertise that takes time, like brewing, to get good at and get comfortable with. Nothing wrong with bottling though, but mainly, kegging is great for having guests over.

OP, what’s your kitchen fridge like? You could get some small kegs and a 5lb co2 tank/regulator for cheap and serve out of there with a picnic tap. AiH has 3 gallon kegs on sale right now. You could get set up for $150 I’m bettin’.

Honestly, I don’t think there’s any cheap way to keg. You pretty much need a refrigerated space, a co2 tank/regulator, and a keg.

Masquelle,
Have you seen the product listed below?

http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/brew ... enser.html

I just went through this decision myself and decided to go with a full kegerator setup, but I almost got the ‘beer box’. With two 2.5 gallon containers, you can put one in the fridge you already have, keep one at cellar/room temp and not have to buy a separate fridge…and the entire setup is only $200. It would also be easy to take a box to parties, tailgates, ect…From the reviews it sounds like this product works good enough for what it is.

I decided to go ahead and do a full kegerator system, but I have a chest freezer my family only half uses, so we’re consolidating the frozen stuff in there with our main freezer and I’m getting a temperature regulator to turn the chest freezer into a fridge. For now I’m just using picnic taps, but I managed to get all my equipment for a 2 keg setup, 10 lb co2 tank, and a double body regulator for under $400 for the entire package.

Used 5 gallon pin lock 45$, regulator 50$, gas line and picnic tap line 20$, used 5lb tank 30$, fill up 15$. That’s $160. You have free snow and ice in Wisconsin so keep it in a cooler with some ice. I got two tanks and I was still under 200$.

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