Changing a keg of beer or any other alcoholic beverage that comes in a keg such as cider is a very straightforward and simple process once you understand the steps involved. If you want to learn how to change a keg the right way follow these steps…
First, turn the gas off then lift the coupler handle up. Once the handle is up twist the coupler a quarter turn counter-clockwise and then pull it straight up. Now simply locate the keg you want to put on the tap and remove the plastic cover. Slide the coupler into place, turn it clockwise to lock it in place then depress the handle and turn the gas back on.
You have now changed a keg. For more detailed instructions on changing a keg, as well as changing a keg tap, keg coupler, and a CO2 or Nitrogen tank refer to the following instructions…
Table of Contents
How to Change a Beer Keg
Step 1: Confirm Keg is Empty
Some people will make the mistake of thinking that just because the beer is no longer flowing from the tap that the keg is empty. However there are many different reasons why beer flow may have stopped, you may have run out of gas, the keg may not be connected properly or there may be an electrical problem if your system is using a pump to assist with serving beer to the tap.
This is why before changing a keg it is important to confirm that it is indeed empty. Some kegs will have a beer monitoring system that will indicate the level of the beer within. Other people go by weight and will know the weight of a keg when it is full and empty. And lastly, if the beer coughs and sputters out of the tap then you can be fairly certain the keg is empty.
Step 2: Turn off the Gas
The majority of kegs will be connected to a gas tank, either CO2 or Nitrogen in order to help push the beer from the keg to the taps. Follow the gas line that is connected to the keg back to the tank and turn the gas off.
Depending on the system and how many kegs are attached to the tank, there may be one shut-off directly at the gas tank, or in many cases where a variety of beer is served each keg will have its own shut-off.
Step 3: Safety First
An important safety precaution to take is to never have your face positioned directly over top of the coupler or connector. Always have your head to one side or the other of the keg. It is common for beer to spray straight up and in rare occurrences, the coupler itself can eject upwards.
Step 4: Remove The Keg Coupler
The coupler is the component that connects the beer line directly to the keg. It is located on the top of the keg. The majority of couplers will have a pressure release valve on the side of the keg, it will have a ring attached to it, pull the ring to remove any remaining gas and release the pressure.
Next lift the couplers handle straight up. Then simply turn the coupler itself counter-clockwise a quarter to a half turn. Now you will be able to lift the coupler straight up and out of the keg itself.
Step 5: Attach New Keg
Locate the new keg of beer you want to attach. At the top of the keg where the coupler fits there is usually a plastic cover, remove it. Next line up the groves or lug slots on the coupler and the keg connector well. Press down on the coupler itself (not the beer lines) and twist a quarter to a half-turn clockwise.
When the coupler has been seated correctly into the well you will feel that a firm connection has been made. Depress the handle back down into place. Turn the gas supply back on.
Step 6: Drain the Old Beer
When you first change a keg the beer lines will still have some of the previous beer that was on tap in them. Depending on the length of the beer lines from the keg to your tap you may have to pour a pint or two to clear the old beer out.
How to Change a Keg Tap
You may want to change a keg tap or faucet for a variety of reasons, perhaps you are looking to go with a different style for appearance reasons, or maybe you want to serve some of your beers from a Nitrogen tap that creates a more creamy mouthfeel.
Whatever the reasons to change a keg tap follow these steps…
1. You will need a beer faucet wrench. You can pick them up at any beer or keg supply store. Some wrenches come with the faucet wrench at one end and a hex wrench on the other that can be used to tighten and loosen hex nuts on your draft system.
2. Turn the gas off at the individual regulator for the tap or gas tank itself.
3. Depending on how your tap is set up, there will be a ring that is called a shank collar either directly behind or at the base of the tap. You will notice small holes in the ring. This is where you will need the beer faucet wrench.
Position the wrench with the handle positioned to the right of the faucet. The tip of the wrench will fit into the holes in the ring. Loosening the collar can be awkward at first due to having to turn the collar to the right (clockwise) versus left for a regular nut. As you are loosening the tap be sure to support it so it does not fall.
4. Once you have removed the tap, to install the new one simply follow the same procedure in reverse. Turn the gas back on when installed.
How to Change a Keg Coupler
Most American beer sanke kegs will be equipped with what is known as a Type D coupler. Imported beers typically use other styles of couplers. It is important to ask your supplier in advance what type of coupler the keg uses. You can order the different style couplers from any keg supplier and it is a very simple process to add them to your system.
The following are the steps to take…
1. Once again turn the gas off either at the main regulator near the tank or depending on your system at the individual regulator for the coupler you are looking to replace.
2. Following the steps outlined above in the “how to change a keg” section remove the coupler from your keg.
3. On the gas and beer lines you may find tension clamps, you will need to loosen them to remove the coupler. Next, simply unscrew the hex nuts that are on both the gas and beer line, and the coupler will be disconnected.
4. To attach the new coupler simply follow these steps in reverse.
How to Change Out a CO2 Tank on Keg
This is an important part of your draught beer system that you get right. A gas leak can be very costly to both commercial establishments and homebrewers. You will be able to tell if you need to change out your CO2 tank if your beer is pouring very slowly or has lost carbonation and become flat.
To replace your tank you will need a hex wrench and follow these steps…
1. Regardless of whether the tank is empty or not it is important that you turn the gas off on the tank.
2. Using the hex wrench loosen the nut that connects your regulator to the gas tank. It is a standard nut that is turned counterclockwise to loosen.
3. Remove the tank from the area and attach the new tank by following the above instructions in reverse. Turn the gas back on.
NOTE: To ensure there are no gas leaks at any of the connection points on your draught beer system you can fill a spray bottle with soapy water and spray the connection points. If the areas start bubbling up then you have a leak.
If you are a homebrewer, nano-brewery, or a brewpub that uses Cornelius kegs you can check out this post for details on how those systems work: The complete guide to kegging homebrew.
If you have any questions on any of what we have covered today you can ask us in the comment section below.
Cheers, Big Robb is Out!