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I have a kegerator setup with CO2 and a tap. Once a keg has been put into the kegerator, how long will it stay good? What can I do to ensure that I get the longest life possible out of a keg once it's been tapped? Is there some way (aside from the flavor changing) to know that it's gone bad?

Is the answer to this question different for homebrew kegs than for commercial kegs?

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My local brew club just had a lecture about this. A major concern was the loss of flavor in some beers. Aromatics may be lost to the head space in the keg if they sit too long. –  Wulfhart Jun 8 '12 at 17:50
    
A keg in my fridge last me 2 weeks. have a co2 setup at 10psi. If it goes more than 2 weeks there is a problem. I am not drinking enough..... –  user3920 Oct 16 '13 at 2:07

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

As you drink the keg, you're replacing the beer in the keg with CO2. The CO2 isn't going to stale your beer. As long as you are keeping the pressure in the keg high enough to ensure that the carbonation doesn't dissipate into the keg's head space, the beer should stay tasty for quite a long time.

Unlike kegerators, hand-pump kegs replace the beer with air, which causes staling and allows the co2 in the beer to evolve out, leaving you with flat beer.

If you're not going to drink from the keg for a while, it's a good idea to disconnect it from the intake/outake lines. Just make sure you've pressurized the keg appropriately, then disconnect it.

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Pressurizing the keg appropriately basically means connecting it to a 15 psi CO2 supply and allowing the pressure to equalize? How long have you kept a keg this way without it going bad? –  Erick Robertson Jan 20 '11 at 16:53
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It depends on the amount of carbonation you want in the beer and the temperature you're serving at. 15 - 20 is a good estimate, but if you want to really exact, take a look at this nice guide to kegging: www.beernut.com/zen-cart/pub/kegging.pdf As long as your keg holds pressure and your sanitation was good, you can hang on to it for months and months. I know of home brewers who have kept beers for years. –  Hopwise Jan 20 '11 at 17:14

If the beer is being kept cool and you are using CO2 to push (which I assume you are) then it can last for months. I think the longest I've ever had a Corny keg last is three months, but that was finishing it, not spoilage. Kept refrigerated, sealed and under CO2, it should last longer than it takes you to drink it.

The one thing you may want to keep aware of is the cleanliness of your taps. The taps and lines will be dirty long before the keg goes bad or runs out. Regular cleaning (about once a month) is necessary. Dirty taps and lines can make a good beer taste bad.

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Good point about the taps and lines. Cleaning beer lines is the bane of home kegging. –  mdma Jun 4 '12 at 8:26

Do you know what Biogon is? Great mixture of CO2 and Nitrogen. We use it in Czech Republic, but I do not know if it is available in the USA. CO2 keeps the carbonation, Nitrogen preserves it, so it is a great combination.

I think it is called Mixed Gas in your country

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Most places in the USA this is called "Beer Gas". It was recommended that I do not need this except with heavier beers like stouts and porters which need the additional pressure. –  Erick Robertson Jun 4 '12 at 12:57
    
We use it here mainly for lagers and pilseners. 10+ Plato. –  Petr Jun 4 '12 at 16:22

I've seen a 15.5 gallon keg of beer be good over a year later. Kept in house at room temperature. Not just acceptable, but just as good as when it was kegged.

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Was this after it was tapped? Or between being kegged and being tapped? –  Erick Robertson Jan 21 '11 at 19:47

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