Monday 15 August 2022

Keg King - Corny Keg & Fermenter Cleaning Kit - Hands on Review

Brewers are often thought of as cleaners who occasionally make beer, since such an integral part of making quality beer is having good cleaning and sanitation practices. The best ingredients and brewery equipment in the world won't make a good finished product if the equipment being used isn't clean and sanitary.

Like with many other aspects of brewing, there's more than one way to skin the proverbial cat of keg and fermenter cleaning, but some methods are definitely better and easier than others. So when it comes to the less glamorous side of brewing - cleaning, it makes sense to go with an option that's not only easier, but can arguably give better results as well.

The Keg King Corny Keg and Fermenter Cleaning Kit is a complete solution designed to make the process of cleaning corny kegs and fermenters quickier and easier. We were sick of manually cleaning our kegs and fermenters so decided to get our hands on one to see how it performs.

The full cleaning kit includes;

  • A plastic bucket
  • Submersible pump (rated at 3500L/h)
  • Extendable/telescopic cleaning tube
  • Plastic cleaning tube
  • Gas and liquid ball lock disconnects
  • Silicone tubing
  • Stainless t-piece
  • Stainless keg stand

The plastic bucket it comes in doubles as the reservoir that is used for holding the cleaning solution and pump, as well as a neat way of storing the kit all together in one place when not in use.

Keg King Corny Keg Washer Kit

Assembly of the kit was very straightforward - we followed along with the Keg King YouTube video which does a really good job of breaking down each step. There are no clamps required to hold the silicone tubing onto any of the barbed connections, though it is definitely necessary to soak the edge of the tubing in some boiling water to soften it in order to get it over some of the barbs.

Keg King Corny Keg Cleaning Kit - Assembled

At this point it's probably worth pointing out some of the cool features of the kit design. Firstly, the inclusion of the gas and liquid ball lock disconnects. You can see from the photo above that the water outlet from the top of the pump  has a large stainless T-piece on it. The telescopic (or plastic) cleaning tube attaches to one end of the "T" (pointing directly upwards), and the silicone tubing attaches to the other end of the "T" which is then split again using a smaller stainless T-piece into another two tubes that the gas and liquid disconnects attach to.

What this means is that cleaning solution is pumped through the telescopic arm as well as the gas/liquid disconnects, which in turn means the posts and gas/liquid tubes on the inside of your keg (or the lid of your fermenter) are blasted with cleaning solution and hence thoroughly cleaned when the pump is running.

Without this inclusion, the only way to clean the dip tubes and keg posts was to fill the keg with cleaning solution then apply pressure to force the cleaning solution out through them. Inefficient and not a great use of valuable CO2 gas.

Having water forced through the cleaning arm and disconnects via the pump means that the cleaning solution can be recirculated for as long as you wish to ensure everything is as clean as possible. Since the vessel being cleaned is seated on the stand upside down, the solution drain backs out of the bottom of the vessel (where the cleaning arm is inserted) into the bucket/reservoir where the pump is. Re circulation like this is also not possible to do if you use the aforementioned method of filling the keg with cleaning solution then forcing it out the posts using CO2.

The telescopic arm is another excellent inclusion that allows the height of the cleaning arm that sprays the water/cleaning solution onto the inside of the vessel being cleaned. The fact that the height of this can be adjusted means that for larger/taller vessels, such as corny kegs or 60L fermenters, the height can be increased to help ensure maximum water pressure at the exit point to aid in cutting power when cleaning. The kit also comes with a fixed length plastic cleaning arm that can also be used in place of the stainless telescopic arm.

You can also use hot water in your cleaning solution to help improve the cleaning/cutting power as well, but be sure not to exceed the maximum rated temperature if cleaning PET plastic based fermenters to avoid damaging/warping/melting them. The recommended maximum temperatures are 50C for stainless equipment and 30C for plastic based products.

After everything was assembled we mixed up some PBW in 5L of water in the bucket. 5L seems to be the ideal amount of water to include as it covers most of the submersible pump. The pump also includes some small suction cup feet that secure it to the bottom of the bucket to help ensure it remains submerged and doesn't move around.

Pump in bucket with telescopic arm attached

Next step is to add the stainless keg stand - we found necessary to route the power and silicone tubes underneath the top ring of the stand to keep them out of the way. The stand is designed to hold all different kinds of kegs, like mini kegs, full size cornelius kegs, as well as fermenters like the Apollo and Fermenter King range.

Pump and stand inside the cleaning bucket

We then attached the gas and liquid disconnects to the corresponding posts on our keg, and inverted it onto the stand. It did require a little maneuvering at first to negotiate the tubes and disconnects to stop them from pinching under the keg and on the edge of the bucket, but after a couple of attempts at removing and re-adding and adjusting the height of the telescopic cleaning tube, we got the hang of it pretty quickly.

Corny Keg seated on the stand in the bucket

The pump doesn't have an on/off switch, so as soon as it's connected to a live power source it begins running immediately. The operation is reasonably quiet, though we don't consider noise to be much of a factor since you'll almost always be running this outside. In saying that though there was no splashing of water outside the bucket whilst it was running and was all contained quite nicely.

This kit truly is a must have for kegs - especially since the lid opening of a cornelius keg is generally not large enough for most adults to fit their entire arm in - which is what is required to be able to clean the bottom where the majority of sediment and residue will reside.

We left it running with the cleaning solution for 10-15 minutes, before emptying and refilling the bucket with plain water and repeating the process for rinsing. The same process is repeated once again with a sanitising solution to complete the cleaning and sanitising regime.

You may be wondering exactly what a submersible pump rated at 3500L per hour looks like in action - so check it out in the video below. Certainly a sufficient amount of pressure for most applications we would expect.

Since all the barbs, T-pieces, cleaning arm and stand are made of stainless steel, you can be confident this kit will last a long time. We certainly won't be missing our previous process of manually cleaning kegs and fermenters. Our only wish is that we'd gotten one of these sooner!

The kit can also be upgraded by purchasing a Cleaning In Place (CIP) Kit which comes with a sprayball attachment and matching barb and silicone hosing as an alternative method for cleaning fermenters.

Here's a link to where you can purchase the Keg Washer and Fermenter Cleaning Kit from the Keg King website.

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