The Kegerator Flashlight Test
If you are not quite certain about your beer's carbonation level or temperature and find yourself without a thermometer, there is still hope in determining your keg pressure. A flashlight can be used to determine if your beer's gas content is staying put with the applied CO2 pressure to the keg.
It is not an exact science, although you will be surprised at how accurate it can be. It will not correct a warm tower issue. This test works best on a fresh keg that has acclimated to your kegerator. A risk would be to go overboard and increase the pressure too far, causing over carbonation of your beer. A dim flashlight will not cut it.
Follow these steps:
STEP 1: After turning your regulator shutoff to the off position, reduce your pressure to a low five to six PSIG (pounds per square inch gauge).
STEP 2: Couple your keg and then relieve the keg head pressure using the coupler's safety relief valve.
STEP 3: Turn the regulator shutoff on pressurizing the keg.
STEP 4: Open the faucet for one second and close. Immediately shine your flashlight through your beer line just above the coupler. You may see a couple of large bubbles rising. Do not pay much attention to these. Look for very fine, small bubbles rising out of the top of the coupler through your line. This is the actual gas in the beer breaking out.
STEP 5: Raise your pressure one to two pounds and after a few minutes, repeat step four. You should notice that the break out of the gas bubbles is becoming less frequent. You are becoming close to what is called gas equilibrium. But if you still see the bubbles, you are not quite there.
STEP 6: Repeat step five and continue this procedure until gas bubbles no longer rise out of the top of the coupler. Be careful not to raise the pressure too high. Once the gas bubbles disappear, you can be assured that the pressure you are applying to the keg is keeping the beer's carbonation where it belongs - in the beer!
You will be surprised to find out that you will stop raising pressure right around 13 to 14 PSIG if your beer temperature is 38° F and you are working with a 2.6 gas volume beer. It would certainly be much easier knowing your beer temperature using a calibrated thermometer and the carbonation level. Not necessarily the case all of the time.
As usual, the keg must be acclimated to your system before you perform this test. Be aware that it can take hours for a keg's temperature to drop - even a couple of degrees. If you attempt this test, let us know how it worked out.
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For over 60 years, Micro Matic has been recognized as one of the world’s leading suppliers of draft beer equipment. Specializing in keg-to-glass technology, we offer a total solution for meeting your draft beer equipment needs. Our dedication to customer service is supported by four regional sales and distribution centers, the Micro Matic Dispense Institute for training and education, and a Certified Installer Network for draft beer installations. Want to speak with a “perfect pour” expert? Contact Micro Matic today.