The King Keg Top Tap barrel holds 25 litres (40 pints/5 gallons) of beer leaving plenty of head space above. The barrel has a large 4" opening to allow easy cleaning inside and the base is specially strengthened. This comes with a tap, beer float, cap with valve and sealing "O" ring for the cap. You can keg beers, lagers and ciders.
Why a tap at the top?
The tap is located near the top of the barrel rather than at the bottom. This has the advantage of allowing the keg to sit on a floor and still allow your beer to be dispensed. Connect to the back of the tap is a piece of tubing and a float. The float will sit just below the top of the beer, allowing beer to be taken from the top rather than the bottom. This has the advantage of being able to dispense the beer far quicker than having the tap near the bottom. As the beer clears, it will clear from the top down, and as you are drawing from the top, you will be drinking the clear beer a lot earlier.
How to keg the beer.
Syphon the beer from your fermenter into the keg and add 100g of sugar. We also recommend adding beer finings to help clear the beer quicker. Starbrite is the perfect fining as it works quickly and it also suitable for vegans. Smear the thread of the cap with petroleum jelly or similar and make sure that the "O" ring is in the cap. Tighten the cap down and give the barrel a good shake to mix the sugar into the beer. Leave the barrel in a warm place (ideally the same place as it was fermenting) for 5-7 days. The yeast will ferment the sugar and as the gas cannot escape, this will pressurise the barrel. After 1 week, move the beer to a cooler place to clear and mature. After a week in a cooler place, you can open the tap to dispense the beer.
Do you need to use gas?
Initially due to the secondary fermentation, you should have sufficient pressure built up to let the beer come out the tap. Once this natural pressure has been used, you will need to add carbon dioxide (CO2) to fill the void and dispense the beer. This is either added using a homebrew gas cylinder by screwing down on the valve and injecting no more than a 1 second burst of gas, or using a gas bulb to inject the gas. This will depend on the type of valve you have.
The keg is available with two different valves.
S30 - This valve uses the larger refillable gas bottles like the Hambleton Bard S30 and Brewgas L30 cylinders. These hold approximately 30x the gas as the small gas bulb. You have more control over the gas injected into the keg, and as the bottle is refilled, will cost significantly less than gas bulbs in the long run. The gas refills are available from inside the store and are collection only - we cannot send the larger pressurised gas cylinders through the transport network.
Pin Valve - These valves are designed to be used with the smaller 8gm gas bulbs. You will need a holder to inject the gas. This holds the gas bulb and screws onto the valve, and the pin in the valve pierces the bulb allowing all the gas to be injected into the keg. These are disposable gas bulbs and once used, the empty bulb is discarded.
Can you bottle the beer from the keg?
You can bottle from the keg, but the beer will be fairly flat. As the secondary fermentation has already occurred in the barrel, when you bottle the beer there will be very little pressure and the beer flat. The only way you could bottle would be to add half teaspoon of sugar per 500ml beer, seal the bottle and keep it in a warm place for at least 5 days to generate pressure.
- Change the valve washers every year, or sooner if you use the barrel frequently. The pressure in the kegs is constantly against the washers and eventually the elasticity in them weakens. These washers need to form a tight seal against the valve to stop gas leaking out.
- Never sterilise the cap and valve. This does not come into contact with the beer, a layer of CO2 lies between the cap and beer. Just wash the cap in hot water. Steriliser will damage the washers on the valve and could even damage the valve itself.
- Do not store the keg in a cold place. This is hard not to do in the Winter months, but try to avoid cold places. Wrap a towel or blanket round the barrel, or even place a box over it, this will help keep some of the cold out. If the barrel is stored in a cold place, the gas that you have built up in the secondary fermentation will be absorbed into the cold beer. This will result in flat beer and relying more on injecting gas from the gas bottle or gas bulbs.
- Add finings to the beer before sealing the barrel. This will help greatly in the clearing of the beer and also help keep the sediment compacted.