I’ve never been a big fan of bottling. Cleaning out 50+ bottles and sterilizing them is not really my idea of an exciting time. I like to use the 22 oz bomber style bottles, and that just about cuts the bottle prep work in half. I haven’t made the financial commitment to a real kegging system, and still don’t think I’m ready… but I got pretty excited was when I discovered mini-kegs.
This had all the qualities I was looking for:
- Holds a lot (relative to bottles)
- No need for CO2 or accessories
- Fits in my fridge
So I picked one up, along with one of the special rubber stoppers that goes in the top. We went through the typical bottling process, and primed the beer just like you would normally. The mini-keg got filled first and we capped it off with the stopper. I was pretty skeptical about a few things. First, I fully expected the stopper to pop out champagne-cork-style at some point, and to wind up with a beer eruption on my hands. Thankfully that never happened. I also worried that the stopper wouldn’t be strong enough to hold in all the internal pressure of carbonation, it would leak, and the beer would wind up flat.
Four weeks later, and it’s time to try out the results. I’ll let the video speak for itself…
As you can see, the beer comes out with a ton of pressure, and there’s no way to dispense it without getting 3/4 of a glass full of bubbles. It was like that for at least half the keg, and then it settled down to a reasonable flow that you didn’t have to wait 5 minutes to settle down. Another drawback is the limited time frame you have to drink the beer. While the pressure’s built up in the keg, it’s fine, but once enough space is opened up in the keg, it tends to go flat quickly.
The mini-keg had some definite pluses and minuses. The good news was that it was super easy to include in the bottling stage. It’s a great little thing to be able to bring along to share your homebrew with some friends. It’s so much more convenient than bottles. It also allowed the beer to carbonate like a champ. No leaks, no explosions, piece of cake. And it’s the center of attention in my fridge. However, the high pressure dispensing and the limited lifetime of the beer once the keg is used may be a deal-breaker for some folks.
I still love mine and plan to use it for lots more beer to come, though.