The moment I saw Lionel Ritchie singing ‘Hello, is it me you’re looking for?’ I said “Yes, Yes, Yes oh great Lionel, that is what I’m looking for, something to put my home brew in.”
So off we went to the bottle-o and purchased two bottles of the James Squire’s Chancer’s Golden Ale and one of the dispensers. Beer heaven. Then I bought two TEDs and two Boag’s because as soon as I’d finished the first one and tore of the lid, I knew I was going to refill Tap King with home brew.
For a standard home brew of 25 litres you’ll need six of them which will leave you with enough to fill six or so bottles for taking away.
Before you do any brewing you’ll need to get some 12gm CO2 canisters that are used in food preparation. Apparently the paintball cylinders have a lubricant in them and it’s not real good for you. You can get some from food grade ones from Ezychargers.
Of course you’ll need a batch of home brew all ready to go and I suggest you either draught it into another keg to lessen the sediment, or do what I do and pour in some gelatine the day before it’s ready. Also choose a brew, like the Cooper’s Pale Ale that I used, that’s ready to drink two weeks after bottling.
Once you open your Tap King you’ll find that the cunning folk at Lion Nathan knew we’d be wanting to refill Tap King with home brew, so they’ve made it as difficult as they can. To dissemble the dispensing head you’ll need to do one of two things. Either you grind down an Allen key into the shape of a triangle like I did, or you nick into Jaycar or Dick Smith’s and get a multi-tool set for mobile phones etc and buy a set for around $35.
Once you’ve unscrewed the four screws you’ll notice two springs and two plastic cylinders that are pressed down to empty the beer out of the keg. Keep all the parts you find including the thin faint white washers.
Once it’s open pull out the CO2 cylinder. You’ll find the metal spear is still stuck in it like a bee sting, so you’ll need to remove and keep it.
Once you’ve done that you’ll have to re-assemble them with your new gas cylinders. CLEAN everything as you would with your normal brewing cleanser and put everything back as it came out. Take care with the spear as it’s probably the trickiest part of the whole deal.
The cylinder is not there to carbonate the keg, it’s there to stop the keg from collapsing in on itself. The beer needs to be primed otherwise it’s going to be a very dull old beer. I used 25 grams of dextrose in each keg and it worked fine.
That’s pretty much it folks. Let the kegs mature and then refrigerate for the required 9 hours.
DID IT WORK? Well yes, and no. When you watch the video you’ll find that the beer poured forth good and true and merriment abounds. Somewhat later though, about one third through, the beer just came out as foam and the cylinder completely emptied itself.
‘Maybe it was just the one’ we thought, so I grabbed the back up keg and it did it as well. Then we had two really large bottles of home brew to drink. Someone has to make these sacrifices I suppose. *
WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? No. Why? Because the entire process of unscrewing, cleaning, refitting etc takes almost as long as cleaning 30 bottles and filling them. Plus the fact I’m not a heavy beer drinker means that the chance of the beer being wasted is fairly high. I also like to mix my brews up, a lager one day, a dark the next and then maybe a draught. You can’t do this with a Tap King, or indeed any home kegging system.
IN CONCLUSION. If you’re up for a challenge, like the technology involved and want to give it to the man, go for it. If all fails, at least you’ll still have beer.
* A few helpful brewers have noted that by rubbing some olive oil around the o-ring at the top of the gas cylinder stops it from fully discharging. I’m yet to try it but I can’t see why it wouldn’t. Thanks for that input folks.