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This is probably a foolish one, but...

So you can force carbonate with a keg (or sugar carbonate, but of course why would you), and then serve from the keg with the CO2 to help dispense.

But, if one wanted to get a couple of kegs but only a single CO2 tank, is that a normal manageable setup?

I would conjecture that the procedure is: ferment (in primary), carbonate in keg (either priming or force), dispense (for keg 1). Then is it acceptable practice to repeat into keg 2 (3, et al) by removing the tank from keg 1 and using it on 2, and 3, and then simply moving the tank back to whichever one you want to dispense from when you are ready?

I.e. does there need to be a constant tank hookup (I would think no, the keg itself is air and pressure tight?), or can you make the most of your investment by cycling through a tank or two to pull off beer from multiple kegs as desired?

Edit: Clarified that I meant ferment in the primary, NOT in the keg!

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btw - "ferment, carbonate, dispense" - kegs aren't usually used as fermentors, at least not for primary. Some brewers use kegs for secondary (lager conditioning/high abv/dry hopping), but really this just amounts to racking from primary to keg and waiting before force carbing. –  mdma Mar 5 '12 at 14:28
    
Right I definitely meant normal ferment container, then carbonate either by priming or force. –  goodytx Mar 5 '12 at 21:37
    
You do need a regulator too, its not just a hose from the tank to the keg. –  brewchez Mar 6 '12 at 2:38
    
@brewchez Right (well, I'm learning :) ). Keg+tank+regulator, then splitter if I decide to go that route. First I have to verify that I won't be repeatedly ruining batches, and thus have a need for the keg! –  goodytx Mar 6 '12 at 14:56
    
I don't know if this is verboten, but any recommendations on online suppliers for refurbed stuff? –  goodytx Mar 6 '12 at 17:26
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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

You can get away with juggling the CO2 between the kegs. But it quickly becomes a pain. (I did it for a short time before building a keezer.)

If the carb/dispense pressure is going to be the same for most of your kegs, then you just need a way to split the CO2 from your regulator to multiple lines. You can use a Wye, or better, a manifold.

CO2 manifold

If you see yourself in time wanting to carb to different pressures, e.g. to serve a British ale alongside a pils, or a highly carbed Weissbier, then secondary regulators is the way to go.

enter image description here

Each secondary can be set to it's own pressure (upto the pressure of the primary regulator.)

You can combine manifolds and secondary regulators. For example, in my keezer, I have the CO2 tank outside, with the primary regulator. Inside the keezer is a 4 way secondary regulator, with each connected to a 3 or 4 way manifold to dispense 12 kegs. There's also a manifold connected to the beer gas inlet. With this, it's possible to serve pretty much any style of beer.

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Good answer. I would add that if you're going to use a simple Wye splitter, you should incorporate check valves downstream of the splitter to avoid cross-contamination of the kegs. –  Tobias Patton Mar 5 '12 at 18:01
    
Perfect answer, and some options to choose from! Of course, noting your course of action...well. Let's just not mention Keezer to my sig. other just yet. Tiny parts come in boxes and are easier to hide :) Also, holy crap I just re-read and saw the 12 kegs bit. You're either my hero or the nightmare I'm going to turn into. (The beer will numb the pain.) I can see how quickly this gets addictive, especially with no bottling! –  goodytx Mar 5 '12 at 21:43
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I believe a more common solution rather than unhooking whichever keg you are currently dispensing is to purchase two pressure regulators. This way, you can set one up to your carbing pressure, and another one up to your dispensing pressure. Finally, you would connect each respective regulator up to a manifold that would allow you to pressurize X numbers of kegs at once from that one single regulator. This is the path I plan to take when I attempt a 5-tap keezer build.

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Multiple regulators is only necessary if you need to keep the kegs at different carbonation levels. The simpler and cheaper solution is a y-splitter on the gas lien or a manifold. –  Tobias Patton Mar 5 '12 at 18:00
    
Excellent answer, just choosing mdma's because of the pics, options, and...the man has a 12 keg keezer?!! :) Thanks!! –  goodytx Mar 5 '12 at 21:44
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