So I’ve been brewing 10 gallon batches lately in preparation of our more-or-less annual Oktoberfest throwdown. Given that I’m not as young as I used to be, I was not looking forward to lifting the big CurTec fermenter up high enough to siphon into my kegs. Not to mention my auto siphon has some age on it and I’ve never felt really good about the cleanability of the thing to begin with.
I’d been kicking around the idea of using CO2 to push beer from the fermenter to the keg for a while. It’s not brain surgery; there are plenty of examples on the web that show how to do it. The only minor complication for me was the fact that I use two different fermenter setups. I use the Speidel 30 liter tanks for my 5 gallon batches and the CurTec for 10 gallon batches, but still managed to cobble together the hardware which, along with some stuff I already had on hand, gets the job done.
As implied in the title of this post, the solution was pretty cheap with a few big IFs. If you already have a CO2 tank and regulator (preferably extras that you don’t have to disconnect from your kegerator every time you want to keg) and if you already have compatible fermenters, then it doesn’t take much to make it happen. I also had some spare gas line and a ball lock gas disconnect which helped reduce the parts list.
If you already have the tank and regulator, the gas disconnect and assorted tubing, all you really need are:
Ball Lock Keg Lid Adapters These came from ebay. You can get these cheaper if you don’t mind waiting for China to ship them. These came from a domestic seller and arrived in two days. It’s a set of two. One post is a bulkhead and the other isn’t, but the non-bulkhead post can be used bulkhead-style on thin materials. I used the one with the bulkhead on the CurTec lid and the non-bulkhead post on a Speidel cap (photo below.) To get a good seal, I added some O-rings and stainless washers sourced from my local hardware store.
Stainless Steel Racking Cane-BrewHardware and tubing From BrewHardware. The Speidel fermenters have a spigot for racking and I already had tubing that fit, so all I needed for the Speidels was the gas post to attach to the threaded lid. For the CurTec, I ordered the racking cane, a drilled stopper to fit the hole I had previously drilled in the lid for the airlock and some 3/8″ silicone tubing. I drilled a hole in the lid to fit the ball lock gas post/bulkhead, which thanks to the O-ring and washer seals up nicely at pressures of 5-10 psi.
I haven’t used the Speidel setup yet, but I filled 2 kegs with German Pilsner that had been fermenting in the CurTec and this little rig worked like a champ. At around 5 psi the CO2 pushed the beer up the racking cane, through the tubing and into the keg with no leakage (gas or beer) at all. And if I’d had a ball lock liquid disconnect with a hose barb to fit the 3/8″ tubing I could have filled the keg through the liquid out post instead of the open lid and never expose the beer to oxygen. And that’s a good thing.