As our search for the most convenient and reliable method for dispensing home brew continues, we currently find ourselves infatuated with the five litre mini-keg.
Bottles are great, apart from the fact that cleaning and filling enough for a batch takes most of a day, and is beyond tedious. Serious home brewers rave about Cornelius kegs, but every time we read a ‘simple guide’, we find our eyes glazing over: too expensive, too complicated, and with too many dire warnings. Polypins are fine, but we’ve had more than one beer come out of them lifeless (our fault) and there’s no easy way to rectify that after the fact.
Mini-kegs, in theory, offer the best of all those options: bulk-filling, affordability, availability, and control over carbonation.
Our first two attempts at mini-kegging didn’t go well. Even with the drastically reduced priming recommended by the manufacturers, we found the beer so over-gassed that we just got glass after glass of furious foam. This time, though (1938 ‘Family Ale’) we nailed it: we released the pressure from the keg before affixing the tap, and then dosed it with Co2 from a bulb to achieve the right level of carbonation at the point of serving.
We’re not sure we’ve ever seen our home-brew looking as appealing as this did with a stable head and gentle carbonation. (We didn’t aim for ‘fizz’.)
We’ve found that, assuming cleaning and sanitising procedures have been followed, it keeps for weeks in the keg, so there’s no rush to drink the whole lot in one sitting.
We bought our mini-kegging kit (three kegs, gas bulbs, tap) from Brewsmarter via Amazon.co.uk for £70 including delivery.