Brewers Connection

Brewers Connection Quick Links:

  Brew U  

  Tips for cleaning and maintaining your kegs  
  Cornelius five gallon "soda" kegs, commonly called "Corny Kegs", are used by home brewers to keg homebrewed beer. It is generally easier to keg beer than it is to bottle beer. Used Cornelius kegs are still available and very easy to clean and maintain. There are a decent amount of components that make up a Cornelius keg, and whether one is rebuilding a used keg or just cleaning and maintaining an existing one, it is helpful to know what goes into assembling a Cornelius keg. The size of a standard corny keg is 8 - 1/2 inch in diameter by 25 inches tall. It is important that you allow 28 - 30 inches for clearance of the connects. "Corny Keg"  
  Begin by removing and collecting the keg components. The components consist of the keg tank, a long liquid dip tube and o-ring, a short gas dip tube and o-ring, one lid and o-ring, a pressure relief valve for the lid, one gas plug (post) with o-ring, one liquid plug (post) with o-ring, and two small poppet valves that fit inside the plugs (posts). There is a total of five o-rings. There are different types of Cornelius kegs, and different brands of similar five gallon soda kegs are generally referred to as Corny kegs. Be sure to keep all of the components that you remove from a keg specific to that keg and correspond with the specific keg design. The pin-lock type of keg is generally not used, and it is far more common to find and use the ball-lock variety. various brand names include Cornelius, Firestone, Challenger, Spartan, and Champion. they all have similar parts, yet slightly different. If rebuilding a keg, all of the o-rings are usually replaced with new ones, as they can absorb soda odors, and possibly harbor bacteria and the like. If cleaning, I usually soak them in the cleaning solution used in the Keg.
  The posts on the various different kegs vary in size as well. Most typically it'll be either a 7/8 or 11/16 SAE. If it is a 7/8 size, I recommend a good "Box End" wrench. If it is a 11/16, I recommend a "Brake Line" or "Line" wrench. a good pair of needle nose pliers can be handy in removing old O-rings from the posts. a phillips screwdriver is useful in pushing out the poppets, (located inside the post). Tools Needed  
  To remove the posts from the kegs, it is best to be on a hard surface such as cement or tiled floor. while sitting on the keg to brace it, put the wrench on the post and give it a good whack with your right hand. Counter clockwise to loosen and clockwise to tighten. Once you have the posts removed, set the post on a flat surface and use a phillips screwdriver to push the poppet out. removing posts  
  To remove the lid, simply turn lid clockwise 90 degrees and pull out. remove the closure O-ring. Next you may consider removing the relief valve. Again there are different types of relief valves. If you have a round gray plastic one, you are better off leaving it on and soaking it cleaning solution with valve in the up or open position. If it is a ring top relief valve, pull the valve up and turn it clockwise 90 degrees so it remains in the open position. Unscrew and put it with the other components. I go over the lid with a green scrubby pad to knock off any crud on the lid, in the relief vale hole, and inside the post. Remove the dip tubes (gas and liquid).
  Put you components into the keg, then put the lid in the same as you took it out, drop lid down into keg. Put in both dip tubes. Now add some cleaner to the keg. we recommend Birko Cellar Pro or Cellar Master. Five Star PBW is recommended as well. TSP (Tri Sodium Phosphate) works well too. Use according to directions on the label and we recommend rubber gloves and eye protection while using these products as well. Fill keg with warm to hot water, let soak 15 - 30 minutes. If you are rebuilding the keg for the first time, we suggest you let it soak overnight. DO NOT use bleach! Bleach is corrosive and will pit and damage the stainless .
  Empty out the cleaning solution, rinse with cold water, take your small parts and set aside in a bowl or small bucket with a no rinse sanitizing solution. We recommend Iodophor. Fill the keg with cold water and dose with sanitizer. Put a small O-ring on the long (liquid) dip tube and put it in the keg upside down. In your small part bowl, take out the short (gas) dip tube, put small O-ring on it and insert it into the IN hole of the keg. Inspect the popett making sure it is in good shape. Place the popett into the gas plug. NOTE: the two tank plugs are different. The gas plug has small slots in the hex part of the plug. The liquid plug with not have the slots. See illustration to the right. Thread plug onto keg and tighten snug. Now take the long dip tube out of the sanitizer, insert into out hole. Place the popett into the liquid plug. Thread plug onto keg and tighten snug. Remove lid, large O-ring, and relief valve from your bowl of sanitizer. Assemble lid. dump sanitizer from keg. Put lid in place. Connect CO2 and pressurize to 25 psi. Using windex, check for leaks. Hit relief vale a few times to purge out the oxygen.