Even when you’re running a professional brewery, home-spun, DIY know-how is still useful. Things happen — people quit, equipment breaks, etc. Here’s a specific scenario posed by a poster in the CBP Facebook group who was in a pinch:
How does everyone clean kegs when the keg washer breaks down? Edit: And you can’t outsource the washing to another brewery because the new keg washer is stuck in shipping for months.
Alan Buelow | I literally had to write a rudimentary SOP for keg cleaning without a keg washer. Do you have a keg ring removal tool and a keg spear gasket compressor? If so, you can pull the spear, spray out the kegs and the soak them in pbw, rinse them, fill with sani, roll them around and then purge them. You also need brushed and couplers to soak and clean the spears. It is quite the chore, but I got used to it.
David Victor | I’ve had to manually clean kegs, so I thought of a way to simulate a keg washer’s cycle. Get a coupler with the one-way gasket/ball removed. Attach your sink’s hot water to the beer line. Set your keg upside down using two other kegs as stands. Blow hot water through the spear and let it drain out the gas line. Use sodium percarbonate (pbw base ingredient) diluted in hot water and funnel in 1L or two into each rinsed keg. Shake. Drain and repeat if the drainage has solid matter or is discolored. Rinse again with hot water. Funnel in PAA solution, shake. Blow out PAA solution with CO2 using a QC connector. Purge once or twice and voila! One clean keg for about 15 minutes of work. Repeat until you lose all sanity.
- Julien Manchuelle, Author | Yeah that’s exactly how we’ve been doing it but I was getting tired of breaking my back and wanted to see what nifty manifolds people had come up with.
- David Victor : Otsukare! Yeah you would need some kind of pipe and manifold assembly to get it done faster…
Ryan Carruth | A mobile pump, some creativity with t’s, valves and hoses, 2 vessels with an in and an out, a water source and a drain …. Technically, a few more things like a co2 line to purge and a way to connect to the keg to your set up. Just stack them upside down on top of two kegs to get it off the ground. The first place I ever worked, we always washed kegs using the 3bbl brewhouse. It cleaned the hell out of the vessels too. I would switch back and forth on which one was my caustic and which one was my acid depending on the week. 185 for your sani rinse and boom. It’s amazing what the right manifold and some drunken creativity can get done. Hell, I turned it into a 2 head washer eventually lol.
Jeremy Flounder Lees | Make a rig using a 3 bay sink you buy online for cheap, need a pump and a bunch of valves and t’s, we cleaned kegs for years on a home made keg washer that cost us about $250 in parts.
Joseph Soleno | As a disclaimer I’d like to state do not do this but I have seen some breweries rig a coupler with the inlet hose hooked up to a hot liquor tank and the gas port with another hose going to the drain. They’d fill kegs with 180+ water and just bake them…
- Tim Morse | Also risks fixing beer stone to keg interior. All the hazyness comes at a cost. Rinse at 140F one or two times, then get back to CIP with one of the methods listed above(kettle or FV caustic/acid tank, T’s & butterfly valves for rinse and CO 2).
Julien Manchuelle, Author | For those that wash with chemicals, is everyone using acid to clean or does anyone use caustic? We’re using caustic and it’s a royal pain in the ass to have to blow out the CO2 in order to do it. Plus we’re sanitizing with PAA while it seems water after acid could be fine.
- Colin Kaminski | I used to rinse cold and then do a quick hot rinse 180F to blow out the co2. The caustic would last a long time. As it wore out, based on pH measurement, I would add more.
- Benjamin Ellick | @Julien Your process water after carbon filtration is not sanitary. The PAA is to re-sanitize the keg after you do your cold rinse with potentially contaminated water.
John Keane, Fishweir Brewing | I used to wash them on our CIP cart bunch of valves CO2 line air compressor line switching between caustic and PAA tanks. Definitely was not my favorite task but it worked for a year.
- John Frampton, Boxcar Brew Works | I have always wanted a CIP chart/keg washer as 1 unit. Seems it should be doable.
Douglas Toth, Rendezvous Brewing | Do this:
- E.C. Walker | Done this for 4 years. It works fine. No sanitation issues. Pulled spears show clean stainless inside, no stone build up or whatnot. I can’t wait for a real washer though. Press a button and walk away. The promised land…
- Julien | Good to know. which acid did you use?
- E.C. Walker | Acid #6. Co2 safe. Not foaming and cuts stone and detritus in keg. I heat it to 160 with a submerged element in a old 15gal homebrew kettle. Rinse is with our city water but at 170, we have some wicked good tankless heaters. Then PAA and pressure purge. Fin. … I hook 1hp pumps on clean and sani side. That way I can run two half barrels at a time.