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DC Homebrewers Club Celebrates 10 Years

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The DC Homebrewers club turns 10 on Jan. 15, 2018, and is celebrating the milestone with the release of a collaboration beer brewed with Right Proper Brewing Co. The beer, a dry-hopped Berliner weisse, will be available for sale around the region starting in mid-January.

The club began in 2008 when Mike and Brian Dolan pulled together some friends (and soon-to-be friends) who were interested in brewing. Mike also founded in 2008. The club email list quickly grew and now includes over 1,200 people. It boasts more than 1,000 members in its Facebook group and over 2,000 Twitter followers.

The club gathers for monthly meetings as well as special events, providing a space for homebrewers to talk about their craft and share knowledge. Club members range from beginning brewers to brewers with decades of experience. More than a dozen DC Homebrewers members have gone on to start craft breweries or other craft beer businesses throughout the country.

(MORE: Register your homebrew club with the American Homebrewers Association)

A group of club members met for a brew day with Right Proper head brewer Nathan Zeender in December to make the collaboration beer, which should be ready by the club’s 10th anniversary meeting from 5 to 9 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 14 at Right Proper Brookland (920 Girard Street NE).

DC Homebrewers hosted its 6th annual Homebrew Barbecue in October, where the public sampled homebrew and voted for their favorite beers. It holds homebrew demonstrations in conjunction with DC Beer Week, National Homebrew Day and Learn to Homebrew Day.

The club is set to run its 5th Annual Cherry Blossom Homebrew Competition in March. The competition, which is sanctioned by the American Homebrewers Association and Beer Judge Certification Program, draws almost 300 entries from across the country. Participants’ beers are evaluated by trained beer judges, who provide feedback and select winners in more than two dozen categories.

The club is dedicated to the art and science of homebrewing. Its mission is to educate its members and the community at large, and provide a social atmosphere for its members. Membership is free and open to anyone (of legal drinking age) who would like to join by signing up for the email list via the club’s website, Follow the club on Facebook or Twitter (@dchomebrewers).

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Have new or a story about your homebrew club that we should cover on Email Matt Bolling at

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The Art of Pairing Chocolate with Mead

Moonlight Meadery started as the dream of hobby-homebrewer Michael Fairbrother, who was hooked on mead after experiencing cyser—an apple-based honey wine—for the very first time. Fairbrother honed his skills as an amateur meadmaker for the next 10 years until he and his partner Berniece Van Der Berg decided to turn their hobby into a business.

In 2010, Moonlight Meadery opened its doors in Londonderry, New Hampshire, and Fairbrother and Van Der Berg have since continued to share their mead obsession with the world, one bottle of carefully crafted honey wine at a time.

(MORE: Moonlight Meadery Shares Recipe for Flagship Mead “Desire”)

During the 2013 Homebrew Con in Philadelphia, Van Der Berg—Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Moonlight Meadery—shared her skill of pairing mead with chocolate. While there are similarities with the classic chocolate and red wine pairings, Van Der Berg shares her tips and tricks for creating a pairing that brings out the best in both the chocolate and honey wine.

Download the audio and visual presentation for this talk.

Join the American Homebrewers Association and enjoy access all Homebrew Con seminars through 2012 on

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Tuesday Beer Trivia: Earth-Friendly Brewing

Test yourself on sustainable homebrewing in this week’s Tuesday Beer Trivia.

Homebrewing is an excellent way for beer drinkers to save the planet. Even without any special practices or products, homebrewing is usually gentler on the world’s ecosystems than consuming mass-produced industrial brews.

After you take the Beer Trivia quiz below, scroll down to “Beer Trivia Answer Explanations” section to learn more about sustainable homebrewing.

Take Our Survey

Beer Trivia Answer Explanations

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The following explanations were taken from “Earth-Friendly Brewing: How Homebrewers Can Help Save the Planet” by Chris O’Brien in the March/April 2005 issue of Zymurgy magazine.

Question 1: True. Environmentally, chlorinated bleach has both short-term and long-term problems. Immediate impacts include eye, lung, and skin damage to the user. Chlorine is also responsible for some devastating environmental impacts including amphibian extinction.

Question 2: Brewing uses less than 10 percent of your malt, so composting the rest or upcycling into spent-grain baked goods and flour is a no-brainer.

Question 3: Remember, within a small scale, relatively bigger is better. Another benefit is that a system used by several people is likely to be used more often, which is better environmentally than allowing value-added resources to sit around and collect dust.

Question 4: There are many ways to practice zero waste in brewing—reusing glass bottles, collecting rainwater for cleaning, and composting your spent grains and hops, to name a few.

Question 5: To start, you could look into getting a high-efficiency fridge for keeping your beer cold. Another radical idea is using your basement or outdoor space (depending on where you live) to keep your beer cool like people have been doing for hundreds of years.

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Local brewers raise money for Alachua County Humane Society

The Hogtown Brewers of Gainesville, FL – the 2016 AHA Radegast Club of the Year – collaborated with their local humane society to host Hogtown Brewdown at First Magnitude Brewing Company on Sunday, January 7, 2018.

Proceeds from the event benefited the Alachua County Humane Society, which achieved no-kill status in 2017 according to Gainesville’s ABC affiliate station, WCJB. To learn more about the Hogtown Brewdown, visit the website.

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Ale vs. Lager: What’s the Difference?

There are a number of misconceptions concerning the differences between ales and lagers. If you were asked to offer blanket statements like “all ales are like this” and “all lagers are like that,” you would be stuck. After all, both ales and lagers can be dark or light, strong or sessionable, hoppy or malty, and so on.

But lagers and ales are different. And the most defining differences have to do with yeast and fermentation.


Ales are fermented with Saccharomyces cervisiae, or ale yeast. Ale strains are commonly referred to as “top-fermenting” because the most obvious fermentation activity appears to occur on the surface of the beer, though the term may also reference ale yeast’s tendency to flocculate at the surface (before eventually precipitating out completely to the bottom of the fermenter). It was, and in some instances still is, common practice for brewers to harvest the kräusen—the foam that forms on the surface of fermenting ale. Kräusen contains viable yeast cells that can be reused to ferment another batch of beer.

Lagers, on the other hand, are fermented with Saccharomyces pastorianus, which is referred to as a “bottom-fermenting” yeast due to its apparent lack of activity on the surface of fermenting lager beer. S. pastorianus is said to be a hybrid of two closely related yeast species, one being ale yeast (S. cerevisiae) and the other being a more cold-resistant yeast called Saccharomyces bayanus.

All of that said, some brewer’s yeasts fall into a gray area that blurs the clear distinctions between ale and lager. For example, beer styles like Kölsch and altbier are fermented with ale yeasts at low, almost lager-like temperatures. And California common beer is fermented with a lager strain that has adapted to warm, almost ale-like temperatures.

Fermentation Temperature & Duration

Both ale and lager yeasts ultimately do the same thing: convert malt sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2). Ale fermentation falls on the warm side of the scale, with yeasts that prefer a general range of 60 to 78°F (16–26°C). Clean fermenting beer styles, like those of English and American “origin” (think pale ales, porters, stouts, etc) tend to stay under 68–70°F (20–21°C).

As fermentation temperature creeps above 70°F (21°C) and approaches 80°F (27°C) or warmer, ale yeasts can lend complex esters and phenols to beer. When intentionally created, these compounds add interesting complexity and are hallmarks of many Belgian, French, and some German styles. That peppery finish in your favorite French saison, or the notes of banana and bubblegum in your German wheat beer, are results of yeast activity and can be manipulated based on the fermentation temperature.

On the other side of the coin, lagers are fermented at cooler temperatures than ales, but not as cold as you might think. Typically, lager fermentation is conducted in the range of 48–58°F (9–14°C), and because some lager yeasts can ferment more kinds of sugars than ale yeasts, the final beer is often crisper on the palate. The cold fermentation temperature also means that yeast-derived flavors like esters and phenols are rarely present.

Fermenting lager, however, has one additional step compared to ale fermentation: lagering. Many beer drinkers assume lagers are fermented near freezing, but what they are actually thinking of is the extended cold lagering period during which the beer is aged for at least 2 to 3 weeks near 32°F (0°C). This cold aging period allows lager yeasts and other proteins to precipitate out, which helps deliver the signature smooth, crisp lager drinking experience.

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Vitoria Vienna Pilsner

A step infusion mash is employed to mash the grains. Add 9.5 quarts (9 L) of 140°F  (60°C) water to the crushed grain, stir, stabilize, and hold the temperature at 132°F (56°C) for 30 minutes. Add 4.75 quarts (4.5 L) of boiling water, add heat to bring temperature up to 155°F (68°C), and hold for about 30 minutes. Raise temperature to 167°F (75°C), lauter, and sparge with 3.5 gallons (13.5 L) of 170°F (77°C) water. Collect about 5.5 gallons (21 L) of runoff. Add 60-minute hops and bring to a full and vigorous boil.

The total boil time will be 60 minutes. When 20 minutes remain, add the 20-minute hops. When 10 minutes remain, add the Irish moss. After a total wort boil of 60 minutes, turn off the heat and place the pot (with cover on) in a running cold-water bath for 30 minutes. Continue to chill in the immersion or use other methods to chill your wort. Transfer the wort into a sanitized fermenter. Bring the total volume to 5.5 gallons (21 L) with additional cold water if necessary. Aerate wort very well.

Pitch the yeast when temperature of wort is about 70°F (21°C). Once visible signs of fermentation are evident, ferment at temperatures of about 55°F (12.5°C) for about one week or until fermentation shows signs of calm and stopping. Rack  from primary to secondary and add the hop pellets for dry hopping. If you have the capability, “lager” the beer at temperatures of 35–45°F (2–7°C) for 3–6 weeks. Prime with sugar and bottle or keg when complete.

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Top 10 Articles on in 2017

Another year is in the books! Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and check out our most-viewed articles on in 2017.

To browse through all articles published on, visit our Featured Stories section. To access members-only content, join the American Homebrewers Association!

10. New England IPA: The Haze Craze

Love ’em or hate ’em, there’s no denying 2017 was the year of the New England IPA. John Moorhead, AHA competition coordinator, digs into the origins of New England-styled IPA and tries to answer the lingering question “Is NEIPA its own style?”

9. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale Clone Recipe

Bell’s Two Hearted was crowned the winner in the 2017 Best Beers in America survey, overthrowing Pliny the Elder for the first time in nine years. Brew your own Two Hearted at home with this clone beer recipe.

8. How to Add Fruit to Beer

There’s more than one way to skin a cat (editor’s note: please don’t skin any cats), and there’s more than one way to add fruit to beer. Discover techniques used to add fruit, juices, and concentrates to your next homebrew recipe.


7. How to Harvest, Prepare, and Store Homegrown Hops

Homebrewers are the embodiment of DIY, so it comes as no surprise that many of us grow our own hops. This feature is the second part in our guide to growing hops at home, focusing on what to do come harvest time.

6. Russian River Pliny the Elder Clone Recipe

Pliny the Elder is one of those craft beers that needs no introduction. Whether you’re a Pliny fiend or have never had the pleasure of trying it, this clone recipe for homebrewers will bring the hoppy beast to your homebrewery.

5. 2017 National Homebrew Competition Final Round Results

The National Homebrew Competition is the biggest beer competition…in the world! In 2017, the Final Round winners were announced at an awards ceremony during Homebrew Con 2017 in Minneapolis. Access a full list of first and final round winners.

AHA Homebrew Competition

4. Hop Substitutions

With all the different hop varieties available these days, it’s not uncommon to come across a hop type that your local homebrew shop might not have in stock. Use this handy list to find a suitable substitute for those hard-to-find hop varieties.

3. Tips on Brewing New England IPA

Flip open your notepad and get ready to bring your NEIPAs to the next level! With the help of Weldworks Brewing Company, The Alchemist, and Odd13 Brewing, we dive into what it takes to brew a great New England-styled IPA at home.

2. Craft Beer Clone Recipes: 50 States, 50 Craft Breweries, 50 recipes

“Clones” is the clever name given to commercial beer recipes that are scaled down for homebrewers. This feature highlights a different clone recipe from a craft brewery in each of the 50 United States. If you’re looking for recipe inspiration, look no further!

1. 2017 Best Beers in America Results

Every year, Zymurgy magazine readers vote on their favorite commercial craft beers to help us crown the Best Beers in America. In 2017, the long-standing champion, Russian River’s Pliny the Elder, was overthrown by one of Michigan’s best-known pale ales.


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The Homebrewer’s Table: Brunch Frittata with German-style Märzen

If you’re like me, you consider Saturday mornings to be ritualistic, if not sacred. There’s something so gratifying about easing into the morning, and heck, even having your first meal at noon. Just picture yourself on a weekend whipping up this tasty frittata while you’re waiting to hit your strike water temperature. By that point, we might as well call it brunch, which means a beer pairing is appropriate.

I love cooking recipes that bode well for leftovers, and a frittata is perfect for that. They’re almost better reheated the second time, in my humble opinion (leftovers for bottling day on Sunday?). There’s so much to love about a well-done frittata, from the fluffy texture of the egg to the savory flavors of well-seasoned vegetables and melted cheese to the pure joy of cutting your piece of the pie.

Spinach, Tomato & Bacon Frittata


  • 8 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 1/2 lb. baby spinach
  • 4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, halved
  • 8 oz. jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 wedge (4 oz.) Gouda cheese, grated
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 2–3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • A few turns fresh cracked pepper


Step 1: Preheat your oven 375°F. Grab a cast iron skillet (these work the best because you’ll need to transfer the frittata into the oven later), place over medium heat, and pour oil from the marinated sun-dried tomatoes to coat the pan. Add your diced white onion and minced garlic to the pan. Once the onions and garlic appear translucent, add your sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms. After about a minute or so, you’ll add the spinach and stir until wilted (it’s important to cook the vegetables before you add the egg so that the frittata doesn’t become too watery with the moisture from the veggies). Be sure to season with salt, pepper, and oregano.

Step 2: In a separate pan, cook your bacon and set aside on a paper towel to absorb the grease. After it has cooled, chop the bacon into small bits with a rolling knife and set aside.

Step 3: While you’re cooking the vegetables, whisk the 8 eggs while slowly adding the milk. Add salt and pepper. Grate your cheese if it isn’t already shredded. Once it looks like most of the moisture has evaporated from your vegetables and they are lightly cooked, pour the eggs into the pan. Add the cheese and the bacon bits.

Step 4: This is really the only opportunity you’ll have to stir the frittata, so lightly stir the mixture until it becomes evenly distributed. You’ll cook the frittata on the stove for no longer than 5 minutes. The eggs will visibly begin to set on the sides of the pan.

Step 5: Once you see that the eggs have set, move the frittata to the oven and cook for 10–12 minutes. Stick a fork in, or a cut a small slit in the top of the frittata to check if the eggs are still runny. If the eggs have set, take the frittata out of the oven and allow it to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Frittata and Marzen pairing

Pairing Suggestions

You might have noticed in the ingredients that this frittata calls for an excessive amount of cheese, and while you can certainly use less, I’m going to use the flavor profile of the Gouda to lead my pairing suggestion. Gouda is a semi-hard cheese, which makes it excellent for melted applications because it just amps up that sharp, nutty flavor. Since this dish is lacking in general on the starch side, I think a malt-forward beer like a Märzen or American amber ale would be an excellent choice, particularly a style that has less malty sweetness. The nuttiness of a well-balanced, malt-forward beer will complement the nutty and buttery aspects of the cheese, while the crispy edges of the frittata pair nicely with the toasted, bready malt character.

Märzen Homebrew Recipe

If you’re planning ahead, brew this Märzen recipe, “Pickelhaube Märzen” to go with your frittata.


  • Original Gravity: 1.056
  • ABV: 6%
  • IBU: 24
  • SRM:10

Ingredients for 5.5 gallons (20.82 L):

  • 5.5 lb. (2.49 kg) Vienna malt
  • 3.5 lb. (1.59 kg) 10°L Munich malt
  • 2.5 lb. (1.13 kg) 20°L Munich malt
  • 1.25 oz. (35 g) Tettnang hop pellets, 4.5% a.a. (FWH or 90 min)
  • 0.25 oz. (7 g) Tettnang hop pellets, 4.5% a.a. (15 min)
  • Bavarian or Munich lager yeast (2 L starter)
  • Reverse osmosis (RO) water treated with 1g/gal. calcium chloride


To brew the Pickelhaube Märzen, mash in for a protein rest at 122°F (50°C) for 20 minutes. Pull your first decoction of about 9 quarts (9 L) and boil for 15 minutes. Add back to main mash and equalize at 150°F (66°C). Hold at that temperature for 60 minutes. Apply heat or boiling water to mash out at 168°F (76°C) for 10 minutes.

Sparge, boil 90 minutes, and add hops at stated intervals.

Chill and oxygenate when wort temperature falls below 80°F (27°C). Pitch a strong starter of yeast at 48°F (9°C).

Fermentation temperature may be allowed to rise to 50°F (10°C). As fermentation slows, bring to 55°F (13°C) and hold three days for a diacetyl rest.

When the gravity reaches 1.012 (3°P), crash to lager temperatures (35°F or 2°C) and lager the beer for two to three months or until Oktoberfest.

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Hailing from the South, Millie Shamburger has developed an affinity for the beer industry and all the shiny things that come with it. When not exploring beer, Millie is in the kitchen, enjoying the outdoors, and wearing out her dancing shoes. 

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What to Do with Your New Homebrew Kit

A homebrew kit is one of the best gifts you can ever receive (or give!). But it can also be overwhelming if you are brand new to the homebrew scene.

The following is a guide to figure out the quickest route to making extract beer with your new kit! If you are feeling ambitious and would like to jump straight to all-grain brewing, check out our Let’s Brew section for even more tutorials and equipment profiles.

Take Inventory

Much like the word “beer,” “homebrew kit” can mean many different things. Did you get an equipment kit or a recipe ingredient kit? Maybe you got both! Did it come with everything you need to get going on your first batch of beer at home, or do you need to get your hands on a few more things?

Many kits will come with a list of everything included, but it’s still never a bad idea to double check what you have on hand. Make note of all the equipment, from bottle caps to tubing, and any ingredients that may have been included in the kit.

Armed with your list of equipment, download the Zymurgy: An Introduction to Homebrewing magazine or head over to our Let’s Brew: Beginner section to see what other equipment you may (or may not) need to make your first batch of beer. Some of these things you’ll likely find in your kitchen, while the rest can be purchased at a local or online homebrew shop. Find a homebrew shop near you.

Pick a Recipe

If your kit came with a recipe that you are interested in making, then you can skip this section. Follow the directions that came with the ingredients and you’ll be well on your way to make beer! If you didn’t receive a recipe kit or are interested in making something different, start by browsing our extensive archive of tried-and-true homebrew recipes.

For a first time homebrewer, it’s recommended to stick with an extract ale recipe. Extract brewing takes out some of the more complicated steps involved in all-grain brewing, and ales allow you to ferment at standard room temperature whereas lagers require refrigeration for the signature lager cooling stage. It’s also not a bad idea to stick with a fairly simple recipe that doesn’t include to many adjunct ingredients outside the typical hops, malt and yeast, but if you’re feeling ambitious and want to brew a pumpkin vanilla coffee stout, we won’t stop you!

If you find an all-grain beer recipe you’d like to brew, use this guide to convert all-grain homebrew recipes to extract.

Brewing with Extract hero

Learn the Proccess

Many kits will come with a guide to walk you through your first batch of extract beer, and this is a great place to start. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the entire brewing process so you don’t run into any surprises that could hinder your brew day. It’s even better if you can put together a list of steps to follow on your brew day and check off steps as you go, so as not to forget anything.

Our free Zymurgy: An Introduction to Homebrewing magazine has everything you need to know about making beer, from start to finish. It will walk you through the extract brewing process step-by-step and arm you with all the knowledge you need for fermentation and bottling, as well. You can also check out our Let’s Brew: Beginner section for more tutorials on making great extract beer at home.

Brew Your Beer!

With all of your equipment compiled, a recipe’s worth of ingredients at the ready and a basic understanding of the homebrewing process, you’re ready to start brewing! Stick to your list of steps, keep notes if you’re feeling fancy, and most importantly…have a good time! After all, you’re making beer!

If anything does “go wrong,” whether you forget a hop addition or boiled for too long, don’t sweat it. Even the most seasoned brewers run into unexpected issues, but most of the time you’ll still end up with beer that you can drink and share with friends.

As the Charlie Papazian, the founder of the American Homebrewers Association, always says: Relax, Don’t Worry, Have a Homebrew!

Keep Going!

As your first beer is fermenting and getting close to being ready, start planning your next brew day! This is a great time to browse through different beer recipes, explore new homebrewing techniques and expand your homebrewing horizons. After taking your first sip of your first brew, even if not perfect to the tee, you’ll surely be hooked and ready for batch #2.


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An Introduction to Kegging Homebrew

Say goodbye to bottling and hello to the wonderful world of kegging! We’re here to walk you through the basics of kegging your homebrew. It’s easier than you may think!

Parts & Components

Kegs: Homebrewers tend to use five-gallon stainless steel Cornelius (“Corny”) kegs, which come in two types differentiated by their fittings: ball-lock or pin-lock. While people have reasons to favor one over the other, choose one and stick with it so you don’t need to worry about different connectors and fittings.

Connectors: Every keg has two connections, one for pushing in CO2 and the other for dispensing beer. Quick-disconnects are used for easy connection, which come in plastic or stainless steel. Pin lock gas and liquid connectors are noticeably different, but ball lock connectors can look nearly-identical, so consider buying different colors to quickly discern the gas connect from the beer connect.

CO2 Tank: CO2 is the gas used to carbonate and push out the beer into your glass. Homebrewers tend to use five-pound tanks, which are easier to transport, but if you dispense a lot of beer and aren’t worried about mobility a 20-gallon tank can be filled for only a few dollars more. If you choose to buy a tank, be sure it is certified.

Regulator: A full CO2 tank holds a pressure of 800 PSI, which is way more than necessary for carbonating and serving beer, so a regulator is used to provide safe levels of CO2. The regulator screws onto the CO2 tank and allows you to set the preferred PSI and monitor the pressure with a gauge.

Faucet: A faucet or tap is needed to control the flow of beer when serving. The cheapest option is to get a picnic tap, or you can build some sort of kegerator or jockeybox with a tap-handle for more attractive serving.

Tubing: Food-grade tubing is needed to connect the CO2 and faucet to the quick-disconnects.

O-Rings: O-rings are rubber circles used to create a tight seal in areas like the hatch of the keg. If you bought used kegs, it is wise to replace all the O-rings, especially if they have stains or an aroma.

Keg Diagrams

Click on image for a closer view.

Disassembly & Cleaning

If purchasing brand new kegs and components, it may not be necessary to clean before using—but it never hurts! The best way to ensure everything is thoroughly clean is to completely disassemble the keg.

Start by depressurizing the keg. If your keg has a pressure release valves, simply use this. If not, take a key or screwdriver and push down on the poppet of the gas-in fitting to allow gas to escape. Once this is done lift the bail of the hatch, lower it into the keg a few inches and remove. If the hatch doesn’t budge, that most likely means there is still pressure in the keg that needs to be released. Releasing all pressure is very important, and if ignored can cause injury.

After removing the hatch, you will notice a large O-ring around its top side. Remove the O-ring. Next, unscrew the gas and liquid fittings on the top of the keg and remove the dip tubes beneath them. Each fitting and each tube will have a small O-ring (four in total not counting the hatch O-ring). If you notice the O-rings are dirty or have an aroma, replace them. If the dip tubes are plastic and there are stainless steel options for your type of keg, it is strongly encouraged upgrade.

Once completely disassembled, the keg can be cleaned. First, rinse off any noticeable sediment inside the keg. Next, fill the keg with warm water and the appropriate amount of your preferred cleaner and throw in all the keg components. Allow the keg to soak for a few hours. If needed, use a carboy brush or something similar to get off any tedious stains or sediment.

Empty the keg of the cleaning solution and replace all the fittings along with the O-rings, taking care that the fittings and tubes are replaced correctly. Again, fill the keg with warm water and cleaner, seal with the hatch, and set the keg upside down for a few hours to cleanse the top of the keg’s inside. Rinse thoroughly multiple times with hot water.

Sanitation & Racking

Once your beer is ready for serving and you have a clean keg, it’s time to prepare the keg and transfer the beer.

First, sanitize the assembled keg thoroughly by filling it up with water and adding your preferred sanitizer. No-rinse sanitizer is recommended to avoid the need of an additional rinse step. Allow the keg to sit with the sanitizer solution for 10-20 minutes, then flip it upside down and let sit for 10-20 minutes to sanitize the top portion. Remove the hatch, empty the keg, and leave upside down to allow to drip-dry.

Once the keg is sanitized, it is time to prepare for racking by purging the keg of oxygen, which could cause oxidation. Connect the CO2 tank to the gas-in fitting and set the regulator to 5 PSI. Turn on the CO2, allow gas to flow for five seconds or so, and then turn off the CO2. Because CO2 is heavier than oxygen, it will fall to the bottom of the keg, forming a protective layer against oxygen as the beer is racked

After the initial purge, rack the beer into the keg and seal the hatch. Again, set the regulator to 5 PSI, turn on the CO2 to fill the keg’s head space, and turn off once you can no longer hear gas flowing. Open the pressure release valve to let the pressure out. Continue this process three or more times to purge remaining air from the headspace, and then shut off the CO2.

Carbonation & Serving

With the beer racked into the keg, it’s time to carbonate. Using the recipe or style guidelines, determine the ideal carbonation level, measured in volumes of CO2, for the style you are kegging. Generally speaking 2.0 volumes of CO2 will work if you are not sure where to start.

With a target carbonation level in mind, next take the temperature of the beer in the keg. The colder the beer, the more easily CO2 is dissolved, so it will effect the desired level of pressure. Download a complimentary copy of “A Bottler’s Guide to Kegging” and use Table 1 to determine the ideal level of pressure (PSI) to achieve the target carbonation level at the beer’s current temperature.

Now you’re ready to carbonate. Hook up the CO2 to the keg and set the regulator to the PSI determined using the table mentioned above. Turn on the CO2 tank and listen for the flow of gas. As the pressure reaches equilibrium the gas will begin to slow and eventually stop, and because the keg is upright there is only a small surface area of beer for the CO2 to dissolve.

While you can fully carbonate a keg with this method over the course of a few days, a little agitation will go a long way and carbonate the beer faster. Some will roll the keg on the ground as it’s connected to the CO2 to encourage more gas to dissolve into solution, though this is not recommended if your regulator does not have a check valve. You can also simply shake and slosh the keg around upright.

Now for the fun part, serving and enjoying! Attach the picnic faucet or tap handle to the beer-out connect. Then, simply depress the lever of the faucet and watch your beautifully carbonated beer flow. Proper dispensing will take into account variables like the length and diameter of the tubing, which is also discussed in “A Bottler’s Guide to Kegging.”

Source: “A Bottler’s Guide to Kegging” by Ed Westemeier (Summer 1995 Zymurgy)

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