Home Brewing Beer To Keg or Not To Keg?

That is the question most home brewers eventually ask soon after getting hooked on brewing their own beer. Most home brew enthusiasts see it as a natural progression from novice to expert, much like going from extract to all-grain. However, even with all the positives of kegging your home made beer there are a few things you need to understand. First off, and probably the most important for many is the cost of kegging equipment.

For some it might be a hard sell to the wife or significant other on the merits of spending a few hundred to upwards of six hundred dollars on C02 tanks, canisters, towers, and maybe even a kegerator. Wasnt one of the reasons given for the need to brew your own beer the money that would be saved? For those lucky few whom money is not an issue or those, like me, with a wife that loves beer, you will have to consider the space needed for a keg system.

Not only will you have to have space to store everything required you will have to have a place to dispense from. If you also appreciate food in addition to appreciating beer this usually means that you will need a spare refrigerator or even better-a kegerator, an appliance whose sole purpose and function is to serve beer. Can there be a higher calling for an appliance? I think not.

Kegging does free the homebrewer from the mundane and tedious tasks of cleaning and sanitizing bottles, storing the empties (always seems there are more empties than fullies), and waiting weeks for beer to carbonate in the bottle. It also gives you control by easily adjusting carbonation levels to your liking for a given style or batch. A kegging system also opens the door to other possibilities, like closed beer transfer for sanitation and filtering for crystal clear beer.

Even with all the cleaning, and all the liberating freedoms of kegging your beer, bottling your homemade beer still has its place. For instance, seasonal or specialty beers that you dont want to drink everyday would do better in a bottle. Especially, when you are giving some away for gifts or to take to a small get-together where a keg would be inappropriate. Bottles also let you add a custom label that personifies your beer or adds that personal touch and flare to the beer.

If you have the cash and space you can easily relieve yourself of the tedium of priming and bottling and enjoy the convenience and flexibility of a complete kegging setup. However, bottles will always have their place in the grand scheme of homebrewing.

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