Monday, 5 December 2016

Pressure Barrel v Bottling

Pressure Barrel Problems

Like a lot of home brewers I started out with a starter kit (Woodfordes Wherry - very nice!) which came with a fermenting bucket and pressure barrel. I soon graduated to bottling however, as I found using pressure barrels presented many problems - mainly due their inability to remain pressurised.

Standard pressure barrel with CO2 injector cap

I recently decided to resurrect my pressure barrel and use it for the pale ale I brewed on 18/11/2016 (recipe here). It was a bit manky after being in the loft for about two years so I gave it a good clean and sanitised everything. I wanted a reasonable level of carbonation (about 2.5 vol) so I primed the barrel with 138g of sugar, filled it with 22lt of beer, lubricated the cap seal with vaseline and screwed the cap on tight. After a week I thought I would try a sample and was quickly reminded why I switched to bottling. The beer was virtually flat, although it tasted fine and was beautifully clear. The barrel hadn't been sealed properly and the CO2 had escaped. I replaced the original cap with an injector cap and gave it a blast of CO2, fortunately this cap seems to have maintained a good seal. Looking at the original cap it looks as though the 2" white washer had become distorted and prevented a proper seal forming. Effectively I lost all the carbonation from the secondary fermentation. I have also had problems in the past with leaking taps and faulty seals around the valve on injector caps. All in all I think I'll stick to bottling in the future. 

Pale Ale - with added CO2

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