When you’ve finally had enough of bottling your homebrew, the next obvious step is to kegging. Most home brewers use the 5 gallon Cornelius kegs - a.k.a. “Corny Keg”. It’s perfect because it’ll hold the standard 5 gallon home brew batch of beer.
When you do purchase your first corny keg from your LHBS (or wherever), you should ALWAYS replace the o-rings first thing. The following is a guide with pictures on how to change your corny keg o-rings. This guide shows how to change the o-rings on a ball lock corny keg. You can follow along for the pin-lock corny kegs, but will need to use a different tool to remove the gas & liquid keg connectors.
The only tools & supplies needed are your corny keg, replacement o-rings, needle nose pliers, 11/16 wrench, some sanitizing solution and a bowl (Figure: 1).
First – fill the bowl with water & sanitizing solution according to the sanitizing solutions instructions. You don’t need much since we are only cleaning a few parts.
Using your 11/16 wrench, remove the gas connector (Figure: 2). The gas keg connector is labeled “In” on your corny keg. Remember – righty tighty, lefty loosey. When the gas keg connector is removed – remove the o-ring from the gas dip tube and discard (Figure: 3). (NOTE!: be sure to look at your gas keg connector. It is usually marked with little etchings around the base. The liquid keg connector does not have those.)
Using your needle nose pliers – grab a hold and remove the o-ring off of your keg connector (Figure: 4). Place the gas keg connector, poppet valve, & gas dip tube in the sanitizing solution.
Next – do the same for the liquid keg connector, labeled “Out” on your corny keg. As you begin to remove the liquid dip tube (Figure: 5), know that it bends towards the end of it. You will need to work the dip tube out by slightly angling the tube as you pull it (Figure: 6). Once removed, take the o-ring off the dip tube and discard (Figure: 7). Remove the o-ring from the liquid keg connector the same as you did with the gas keg connector using your needle nose pliers. Place liquid keg connector & poppet valve into your sanitization solution.
Also – be sure to remove the big o-ring on your corny keg lid (Figure: 8) and dispose of the o-ring. Place the lid into your sanitization solution.
Thoroughly clean your corny keg with a sanitization solution. There are many on the market and your local home brewing supply shop will have plenty of it on hand.
Once your corny keg and all keg connections are cleaned – it’s time to put it all back together.
On the gas keg connector – replace the o-ring at the tip and place the other o-ring on the gas dip tube. Assemble the gas keg connector by placing the poppet valve in the keg connector – and the gas dip tube to hold the poppet valve in (Figure: 9). Screw the assembly onto the “In” connector on your corny keg. (NOTE!: be sure you are using your gas keg connector. This is usually marked with little etchings around the base)
For the liquid keg connector – place the o-ring on the top of the keg connect and slide the other o-ring all the way up the liquid dip tube to the top. Just like the gas connector – place the poppet valve into the liquid keg connector – and the dip tube in to hold the poppet valve in (Figure: 10). Carefully slide the dip-tube into your corny keg. Slowly wiggle the liquid dip tube to get in past the bend in the tube.
Look inside your corny keg. Your liquid dip tube should point directly into the center of the corny keg (Figure: 11). You should see a small indentation in the center – this is where you’re liquid dip tube should point.
Using your 11/16 wrench – tighten both keg connectors down (Figure: 12). Place the big o-ring over your corny keg lid and re-attach to your corny keg (Figure: 13).
You are now ready to test your connections by pumping in between 5-10 lbs. of C02 pressure. Remove the C02 connector and listen. You shouldn’t hear any air leaving your corny keg. Once you verify there is no air-leaking from your corny keg – you are now ready to keg your homebrew.