Thursday 13 January 2022

How to clean homebrew corny kegs

Here's our guide on how to clean 19L corny keg's - most commonly used for home brew storage. Cleaning is incredibly important as any contamination can lead to detrimental flavours in the next beer stored in the keg.

We find it easier to clean the keg outside using a garden hose, but can of course be done inside as well in a sink or tub - although maneuvering a 19L keg in areas like this can be a little tricky.

1. Purge any gas in the keg by lifting the pressure relief valve (PRV) on the top. Hold it open until the 'hiss' of gas escaping stops.

Purge any gas from the keg by lifting the PRV valve

2. Open the lid and inspect the inside - there will more than likely be a little bit of trub and sediment left in the bottom of the keg.

There will more than likely be some trub/sediment at the bottom of the keg

3. Spray inside the keg with a garden hose - we find a jet setting can work well to loosen any stubborn bits that are stuck to the bottom. If you can fit your arm through the hole there's no reason you can't use a sponge, but we'd avoid using anything abrasive on the inside that may scratch the stainless.

Spraying the keg with a garden hose

4. Swirl the water inside then invert the keg to empty the water out. Inspect the bottom to ensure all visible trub/sediment has been removed.

In the example below, you can see there's some stubborn bits that haven't come off on our first attempt. A more aggressive hose setting helps to remove these bits.

Some stubborn bits of trub stuck on the bottom of the keg - these must be removed!

5. Put a couple of scoops of powdered brewery wash (PBW) into the keg. You can use plain sodium percarbonate instead, but PBW has this, plus other ingredients like sodium metasilicate that provide a more thorough clean against different compounds.

Stellar Clean is our go to powdered brewery wash (PBW)

6. Begin to fill the keg with water again - warm water can be beneficial but plain old tap water has worked well for us.

We typically fill the keg to about 1/3 capacity - completely filling it is unnecessary and would mean more PBW needs to be used to maintain the recommended dilution ratio. The PBW mixture should form quite a few bubbles once water is added.

Keg with PBW and water added

7. Re-fit the lid to the keg and shake vigorously to mix the PBW solution around the keg. Leave it to sit for a few minutes, then repeat.

8. In order to clean the inside of the dip tube, we apply a tiny amount of pressure (1-2psi) to the keg - we use as small an amount as possible so as not to waste too much CO2 gas.

9. After gassing the keg to 1-2psi, connect a tube/hose to the "OUT" post on the keg to let some of the cleaning solution flow out. The low pressure will likely give a slow trickle which is fine - we don't need huge amounts of pressure for this process. We just want to run some of the PBW solution out through the dip tube.

We connect a pluto gun to run some PBW solution through the liquid OUT post of the keg

10. Give the keg once last shake to mix up the PBW again and coat the sides and inside of the lid.

11. Purge any left over gas from the keg by pulling the pressure relief valve (PRV) - as per Step 1.

12. Open the lid and pour out the PBW solution (or pour it into another keg if you've got another one to clean).

13. Rinse the inside with the hose then empty the contents. You may need to repeat this step several times to get rid of all the PBW residue.

14. You can leave the keg inverted to drip dry, or at this point we add 1L of water and sanitizing solution to sanitize the keg before re-sealing it.

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