Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Brewing and Kegging

I've decided to start brewing and kegging my own beer as a diversion from the computers and electronics in which I normally dabble. I have several friends involved in the homebrew scene, and it seemed like a natural hobby for me once I researched into it some more. Homebrewing is a nice combination of technology, science and art plus it seems like yet another thing I could do with very little expense.

For more information about homebrewing, I recommend the works of Charlie Papazian:


The first thing that I acquired was some old equipment that a friend of mine was throwing away. This included a bottling bucket, 20qt bucket, two cappers and some unused bottle caps.

Now at this point, most people would purchase a plastic or glass fermenter or two, some accessories, some supplies and then start brewing. I don't have any spare cash to be able to buy any of this, so I decided to macgyver most of my kit together and then worry about how to get the malt and hops later.

I started looking around town at thrift stores, army surplus shops, the recycle center and anywhere else I could think of. I called the beer distributors to inquire if they were getting rid of anything I could use. I asked both Coke and Pepsi delivery drivers if they knew of where I could find the old premix soda kegs. These are ideal for storing and dispensing beer and can also be used as fermenters and lagering tanks. Unfortunately none of the drivers knew of where I could find any. The idea occured to me, on Friday, to walk around the old Coke bottling plant and see if there were any kegs sitting around. I ended up getting chased out of the area by a crazy homeless person, but while driving past the delivery truck parking area, I spotted some cornelius kegs sitting in the back of the lot, inside a fenced in area. I decided to call the bottling plant in Abilene and see if I could have a few of them.
  After playing phone tag with personnel in both Abilene and San Angelo, I was able to get all 14 kegs and the promise of more if they find them for the low low price of $0.
After bringing the kegs home, venting them, dumping 50 gallons of stale pre-mix cola down the drain, and washing them, I have a nice assortment of stainless steel vessels. I will probably convert two for fermenting, use two for lagering, and use some for storing and dispensing beer. Some of my friends in town have asked about getting some of them for their brewing operations, so I hope to stubble across more soon.