Having decided a while back that bottling is for the birds, I finally put together a keezer and have been kegging my homebrew for the last five or six batches. This past weekend, though, was the first time I had occasion to haul a keg along for a road trip. I had already brewed, fermented, cold-crashed, and force carbonated a batch of Kolsch for our Thanksgiving weekend with the Wife’s side of the family and needed a way to dispense my beer while also keeping it at serving temperature.
I already had a picnic tap for my ball lock keg, so the liquid side of the equation was already taken care of. For the gas side I opted for a small, cartridge type keg charger. It spared me the expense of buying a spare CO2 tank and regulator and the hassle of pulling my existing tank and regulator out of the keezer and dragging that around. The charger did require a MLF threaded ball lock gas disconnect and some CO2 cartridges, so the total damage on the gas side of things was about $32.
To keep it all cool, I brought along my mash tun, built from a 10 gallon Rubbermaid cooler, and a couple of bags of ice. The cooler turned out to be overkill, as the weather stayed between 32 and 40 degrees for most of the weekend.
Overall, this little mobile unit worked pretty well, but if you go this route, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First off, these keg chargers are meant for dispensing only. You can’t force carbonate with them. Also, my charger seemed to leak a bit when I left it attached to the keg. Not sure what caused that, but I’ll do some troubleshooting and report back. The charger doesn’t have a regulator, so I suspect that the cartridge may have a bit more pressure than the connection can handle. And not having a regulator, the charger won’t dispense gas as needed. You will need to squeeze the trigger to give it a blast of gas whenever the flow of beer out of the picnic tap gets slow. Finally, don’t plan on the CO2 cartridges lasting very long. We went through five or six cartridges to dispense most of a five gallon corney keg. These minor issues aside, this turned out to be a great way to share your beer away from home.