There are few things more satisfying after a long day at work that a nice, cold, refreshing beer; unless you brewed that cold refreshing beverage yourself. If you are new to brewing your own beer, or even if you have been doing it for a while, you may be wondering about the advantages and disadvantages to using a keg versus using a bottle. While many people who brew their own beer start out with bottles and move on to kegs, the truth is that there are advantages to each method of brewing.
Brewing Beer Using Bottles
Home brewing is remarkably convenient when you use bottles, which is why many beginners will start with them. You can just about any 12oz bottle for the job, and many brewing kits will come with tools for capping the bottles. It is also a great way to serve your beer, as you can easily stick bottles in a fridge or cooler and serve them chilled to guests or just save for yourself. They are also easy to hand out to interested parties for tastes of your new creation!
For advanced brewers, bottles offer the added benefit of tasting your beer periodically as it ages. Unlike most store bought beers, home brewed beers are not pasteurized. This means that the yeast has the opportunity to continue the fermenting process, changing the taste and texture over time. Many brewers like to try bottles over set periods from the same batch, sometimes over the course of ten years or more to see the effects of time on their creation. If you worry about a beer going bad, do not be concerned. Any beer that has gotten sour will immediately be apparent once the bottle has been opened.
On the other hand, bottles are not very large, and many are required to hold a single batch of beer. People often find tons of bottles difficult to store over the long term as they are difficult to stack and can break relatively easily. For large gatherings, trying to serve enough beers in bottles may simply be impractical. For these reasons, many brewers move on to storing beer in kegs after just a short while.
Brewing Beer Using Kegs
The first and most obvious advantage to use kegs is the size. A single keg can hold the equivalent of several bottles of beer and they are easily stacked one on top of each other. This can be extremely helpful when it comes to long term storage or a brewer who likes to make large batches at once. Many brewers find using kegs to be faster and easier in the long run, which is great for large batches.
Kegs are also wonderful if you know you will be serving the beer to a large number of people at once, as setting up a single keg can provide many people with a drink rather than worry about individual bottles. They are also good for transporting beer a long distance. It is much easier to bring a keg, which is sturdier and less breakable, than a bottle which can fall and break.
The major drawback to using kegs, however, is the additional tools needed. Kegs can usually be acquired from soft drink makers and cleaned out. You will also need a CO2 pump, vinyl tubing, a gas disconnect attached to the keg, a CO2 regulator, and a faucet. There is much more technique involved with using a keg to make beer.
Depending on the goals of the brewer, there are advantages and disadvantages to brewing beer using bottles or kegs. Many brewers will even alternate depending on need. There is no foolproof answer for every individual, but rather different scenarios that work better with different techniques. Before brewing, you should consider which will work better in this case, but be prepared for either one. Beer making is an enjoyable pastime for many, an opportunity to love what you can make.