A relatively uninteresting post for most but I’ve corresponded with a few people about how to fill a sanke keg and I figured it was about time I took some pics and posted a how-to for those who are interested.
The basic process is really no different from a transfer to secondary, for example. The only difference is in the connection to the keg where you need the modified coupling head. I have a spare sanke coupling head from which I have removed all the check valves:
Once the keg is cleaned and sanitized I set up just like a regular transfer. One important note is that the beer in the carboy is already cold. It’s been chilled overnight at least and sometimes longer. I have found that with all the transfers I have done that it works best for the beer to go in cold and it also carbonates faster that way.
Note that the coupling head is in place (although it should already be engaged/open), there is a bucket or something for the sanitizer to start the siphon to go into, and the sample glass at the ready.
At this point I prepare the siphon line and racking tube by filling with sanitizer and double kinking the end. Note that the end of the siphon line has the tail piece and beer nut attached. I have two separate lines for transfers, one with a tail piece and one without. Just makes my set up easier.
We now have everything in place to start the transfer and filling the keg.
I start the siphon by putting the racking cane in the carboy and letting the sanitizer flow into the bucket. Once the beer only is flowing through I take a small sample into the glass then re-kink the line and immediately connect the line to the coupling head. Note (once again): the coupling head should be engaged and open on the top of the keg.(I think my directions weren’t clear when I was taking the photos but I do always do this with the coupling head engaged. Bizarre…)
Once the line is threaded onto the coupling head I un-kink the line to let the beer flow into the sanke. I usually give a quick tighten just to ensure that it doesn’t leak.
It may be obvious by now but this is what my final set up looks like as the keg is filling.
Once the keg is full you’re ready to carbonate and serve or bottle depending on how your system is set up. For me, my keg goes straight to the fridge for carbonating and tapping. I bottle very little and only a bit at a time as the need arises.
My carbonating set up is pretty straight forward. I use one of my dispense coupling heads but with the lines reversed so that the CO2 is going in through the spear of the keg. I also have the ball check valve removed and I cap the other line using a dime between the gasket and the tailpiece.
To be honest, I’m not sure if this is totally necessary as I do have the check valve in place on the gas-in port but I like the little bit of assurance that this simple addition provides.
This is what everything looks like when I’m ready to carb:
Before engaging the coupling head I set my regulator to about 20psi. That’s what hits the beer initially and then I purge the keg just to remove any remaining oxygen. Once the keg is pressurized I let it sit for a half hour or so and then shake it.
Let it settle for another hour or so still at 20psi. I then shut off the gas, purge the keg, reset the regulator to serving pressure (11psi for me) and turn the gas back on. I still have the lines reversed and the gas is still going in through the spear. Over the next several hours I shake the keg frequently in order to maximize the distribution of the CO2 and after about 6 hours or so I have carbonated beer ready to drink.