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Using keg as secondary

I’m starting to figure some of this stuff out, but hoping to get some clarification. For a standard recipe that doesn’t require anything to be done in the secondary, can I use the keg as a secondary? I’m sure the answer is yes, but do I need to do anything to it? Do I carbonate it, do I NOT carbonate it, why? Do I need to release pressure via the pressure release valve periodically as there is not an airlock?

I just brewed a Pale Ale that is blowing up with happiness as I type. Mainly I’m curious on ways to do less transferring, and open up my primary faster! Kegs I got, carboys I don’t. Thanks for your help.

What I have been doing lately is primary in a bucket for 2-3 weeks then transferring straight to keg for I guess you could call secondary. I like to add gel and cold crash and I do that right in the keg.

I usually keg it, then place it under the cupboards I have in my chilly (45-50*) beer cellar for a few days, gel it let it sit for a few days, place it in the kegerator on the shelf for a few days then gel it again let sit for a week or so then carbonate by “set it forget it”. So basically my beers are kegged for about 2 or 3 weeks sometimes before I start to carb.

After I keg it, I seal it with co2 from the tank and do so everytime I open the lid for gelling.

I go straight from primary to kegs. I add 1/2 cup corn sugar or 3/4 cup honey and let it naturally carb for 2 weeks at the same temp I fermented. Then into the fridge for another 1-2 weeks and away we go. Sometimes when I lager I unscrew the pressure relief valve and put a 1/2" OD x 1" L piece of tubing in the lid. Then airlock into the tube.

Thanks for your responses, curious still though. Let’s say I have a beer that I’d like to sit in a secondary for a month (or longer for that matter). Can I use a keg? If I do, do I need to worry about any pressure building up? Not that I’m worried about too much pressure being built up because I’m sure the keg can withstand that, but since there is not a airlock it makes me nervous for some reason. If I do sit a beer in a keg as a “secondary”, should I put any co2 in the keg? If I do, do I “force carbonate” or just put some in and bleed it a few times to get rid of the oxygen. This is all new to me, trying to learn, thanks for your help.


In the past I’ve used the keg as secondary but with an airlock installed. My latest lager, an Oktoberfest, I did not use an airlock. I put about 6psi on it and I did purge it a couple times. I also fill my keg with co2 pre racking. If I were to just secondary and leave it at the same fermenting temps, then I’d be done. You don’t have to worry about pressure building up. I believe the side of the keg is stamped with 125psi rating.

For lagering, the temp drop makes the beer absorb the co2 so for the first few days I purge with co2 once a day and recharge to about 6psi. If I didn’t, the psi drop would cause my keg to no longer be sealed and oxygen could be introduced. The Oktoberfest has been lagering this way for about 4 months. I’m ready to pull it out, warm it up to ferment temps and add 1/2 cup priming sugar to naturally carb. Seems like most others artificially carb by having it hooked up to serving psi during lagerin/secondary. And others yet hook to 25/30psi for just a few days.

Basically, you could do it either way. I am under the belief that the yeast will do more and clean up more if they are under the least amount of pressure possible. I don’t use finings and therefore want the yeast to do as much as they can. Ultimately, I think the difference is probably small. Some day I am going to do an experiment.

Kegs are clearly the best way to do just about anything. It doesn’t matter if your process is a secondary ferment, a bright tank/clearing, or carbonation and serving. It’s a sealable stainless vessel, so what’s not to love?

If you are taking it out of primary, your fermentation should be complete enough that the yeast won’t be generating much gas, so no airlock is generally required. As for an “airlock” when needed, just connect some tubing to a gas disconnect and place the end of tubing into your choice of water, vodka, or sanitizer and you have an airlock that will never have any issues and can be used for primary fermentation too if you use the kegs for primary as a lot of us do. You also don’t have to try and rig one of those little plastic things or modify the keg or connectors.

At the end of the last fermentation stages (primary or secondary), I prefer to chill the last fermenter to get the maximum clarity for a few days and then rack to a serving keg to carbonate and serve.

I rarely carbonate using sugars, but if you choose that route with kegs, just ensure that you use a keg that you know is capable of holding a seal with little or no pressure. I always use a pop of C02 to seal the lid when naturally carbonating for insurance and it works just like a big bottle of beer. If it fails due to leaks you can always force carb :slight_smile:

When I used a keg as primary I had to remove the poppet from the out post because of clogging. I also had to remove the pin from the disconnect then. I could have auto siphoned but I was trying to keep it closed loop.

Whenever putting beer into a keg (be it to secondary or dispense), I always put a screen on the outlet of the Autosiphon just in case something tries to get in there. Its a good practice to follow and keeps posts from clogging.

I think most of us fermenting in kegs are using kegs that are about 5 gallons larger than the batch size to give enough headroom for the krausen to rise and not become a clogging issue, even when we do get krausen pump out the tubes. Like Greg said, making sure what goes into the primary is free of large debris is another way to solve the issue.

For those with no headroom the poppets and disconnect valve can definitely be removed. I did the same in the past myself.

For the past number of years I’ve not removed the poppets or valves and have had a lot of gunk pump out without issue, so I just don’t remove them any more. Your process will vary so there are no absolutes. The best solution is one that always works for you.

[quote=“Chester3”]When I used a keg as primary I had to remove the poppet from the out post because of clogging. I also had to remove the pin from the disconnect then. I could have auto siphoned but I was trying to keep it closed loop.[/quote]Why do you think it clogged? Was it during fermentation or during transfer to a secondary? I have been fermenting in cornies for forever and have never gotten a clog.

I always thought it clogged after fermentation was complete, while I was racking to another keg, but you guys raise a good point that it could have happened during fermentation. Afterall, it was a 5 gallon batch in a 5 gallon cornie. Previously, my guess would have been from too much trub (screen would help that as suggested by MullerBrau) or clumps of yeast or a combo of the two. I even had to pull the pin/poppet on the receiving keg. It turned me off and I moved on to buckets. It was a while ago, and my brewing practices are better now, so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if I did it again.

Sounds like the blowoff just dried when fermentation was over. If it clogged during fermentation you would have a high pressure in the keg.

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