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Wild Beer newbie help

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  • Wild Beer newbie help

    So I got my first kegerator (cheap Haeier POS), and am having SEVERE foam issues. It was a used buy from craigslist. I have not done any mods, no tower cooler or anything, just trying to get it somewhat functional.

    I have read this forum for HOURS (probably 30-40 full similar threads), and tried to educate myself as much as possible.

    When I got it, the regulator read 7 psig. Period. So I bought a brand new dual gauge regulator.

    The faucet was obviously in rough shape, because it would only open halfway. "full open" (forward) would actually close it off again. (it came with a half full keg to "test" with)

    So, I figured I'd start over. I cleaned the line with the included kit, took apart the faucet, and cleaned it as best I could (no change) and went ahead and bought a new keg of Shiner Bock. Nothing but foam.

    I went to reading here, and learned about a lot of what I should have known to start with. Carb levels, anatomy of the kegerator, etc.

    Took everything apart to find that the coupler was missing the entire ball assembly, and foaming at the disconnect once I removed it. I read this could be indicaive of a bad coupler. Is this correct?

    So, I figure with an incomplete coupler and bad faucet, a shotgun replacement was faster and better. Bought a brand new coupler, new perlick 525 faucet, and new 5' beer line. The only thing remaining was (is) the original shank, I removed it, and thoroughly cleaned and rinsed it. I installed the line with no significant droops or dips.

    Still nothing but foam, every pour, back to back. Super rinsed glass, 45 degrees, anywhere from 1" below faucet to touching it. No white flash, just lots of beige foam.

    I read that Shiner is v/v 2.65 to 2.75 ...the temperature inside the kegerator is 38 degrees, and I had the co2 set at 14 psig, which with a 5' line from my calculations should be correct (or close enough to NOT be all wild, at least).

    The temperature is measured by an old school thermometer, stuck in a glass of water at the bottom of the kegerator, it's been in there for a week now (I originally had to adjust down from 40 degrees ambient).

    I do NOT know 2nd glass beer temp, but had also read it was untrustworthy if all foam anyway. Is this correct?

    It DOES take ~4 seconds to fill a glass (with foam).

    Upon double and triple checking everything I can think of, I noticed a couple things:

    1) There are a couple tiny tiny bubbles rising from the coupler connection (almost continuously, it seems), and some bubbles in the first 2-3 inches of line SOMETIMES. The coupler foams when disconnected and flipped over just like the old one. Bad (brand new) coupler, possibly?

    2) In trying to troubleshoot, I vented the keg and cranked the psig down to about 6. I ONLY GOT ABOUT 1/3 FOAM and drinkable beer! YAY!

    But obviously, that's not right, it will eventually flatten the beer, and it DID take 8-10 seconds to fill the glass (so if I assume lack of pressure IS somewhat proportional, then the gauge on the brand new regulator is reading correctly).

    Any ideas? I am at my wits end. I know I DO need a proper thermometer, but these settings can't be THAT far off, can they? I mean almost ALL of the delivery system is brand f'ing new, and there is zero change from the original nasty junk. I have heard this can be caused from a bad keg, but (although it would be my luck) I severely doubt that (slim) possibility.

    I can send pics, if helpful, but again, it's all brand new. I did not forget any washers, and I made damn sure that the coupler is twisted as far as it will go before tapping.

    ANY ideas or troubleshooting steps would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Update: In letting it settle for ~1hr to make this post, the bubbler in thel line have formed into a ~3" "air gap" in the line, if this helps...


    • #3
      Search and read the flash light post here. Your keg is not balanced if bubbles are raising from the coupler. The way you're measuring temp. is next to useless, I'm guessing the keg is a lot warmer than you think it is.


      • #4
        Will do, thank you for the advice. I hope you are not correct, as I literally had to set the kegerator at the lowest setting to get the inside of the kegerator to 38 degrees. How much warmer (after an extended period of time) is the berr in the keg than the kegerator (if it is more than 2 degrees, I am obviously screwed here, on a much greater level)


        • #5
          If you're using a glass mercury thermometer you could try placing it right on the keg close to the bottom. Then place a thick dry spounge in a baggie and place this on top of the thermometer and hold it in place with a belt or strap. Close the door and give it 1/2 an hour then quickly remove the thermometer and read it. The spounge acts as a bairrer to the air temp inside the unit and you should now get a fairly close reading of beer in keg temp.


          • #6
            If the compressor is good enough to get you down into the 30-40 range then you're not really screwed, the addition of an external temp controller would allow you to achieve temps into the 20-30 degree range. You're issue right now is that you're not balanced. The flash light test will get you ballpark close by raising the psi till the bubbles stop. Then you can measure 2nd or 3rd pours to get a true reading of your real beer in keg temp. You can also search posts for haeier thermostat tweaks to then get your unit to cool lower.


            • #7
              Thank you, psv6. I will try strapping it down. I am glad to know all is not lost.

              So, from what I understand, once the bubbles stop, I am close to carb equilibrium?

              And, in the end, I DO absolutely have to get a proper thermometer...but what about the foam? Calibrated thermometer or not, will it actually read temp from foam correctly? I read different opinions.


              • #8
                Yes when the bubbles first stop it will put you with in a few psi of correct pressure. It is a slow process thought, baby steps. You don't want to crank the psi up too much at one time or you risk over shooting the mark. When you have sucessfully stopped the bubbles you can use your glass thermometer to measure 2nd pour beer to get the real temp. It won't be foaming then unless you have some other problem with the delievery system. It will likely be 40 degree plus (guessing 44 from the amount of breakout you describe in an hour). By no you're correct foam can't be temp measured since it's mostly Co2 bubbles not liquid.


                • #9
                  P.S. I have the same faucet as your new one, I love it. But it has a faster flow than the old style rear sealing ones. I like the reduced flow rate that lenghting my 3/16th beer line to 10 foot provides. You will probaly lenghten your line sometime in the future like most owners of this faucet do. When you do 7' is mim. and 10' is max. length for reasons I won't go into now.


                  • #10
                    Try a 6 ounce room temperature glass, pour, check, dump in pitcher, 2nd glass, pour, test dump in pitcher, etc. Check the progression of foam and temperature on each glass (till maybe 5 or 6).
                    Without air circulation 5-6 should give temperature in keg and perfect foam. If it gets colder and foamier, you need to find a new way to circulate air, if no circulation, that is your problem.


                    • #11
                      With the kind of break out he's experincing Balance is the problem to tackle first. We both know so I only state this now for Keroppi66 benefit, Know temp 1st. know V/V 2nd and you then know needed psi. to balance system. Once you have the propper Psi never change it in hopes of correcting an issuse, Foam, pour speed, etc. unless the temp changes. Killian your approach maybe better suited to a New guy it would mean some beer wasteage but it's more user friendly than the methodical flashlight test. But from reading Keroppi66 (Here after reffered to as "66") posts, I don't take him as the avg. newbie. He's already done extensive research on his own volition before asking a ? Seems like a good canidate for the flash lite test, if he undertakes that route to achieve balance he will likely learn through doing, what balance is and how it plays a role as the foundation of home dispensing. Learning that lesson early on can only be a good thing.

                      I suppect that this unit like so many before it showed up cheap on Craigs list because it wasn't cooling well enough anymore to be useful to seller and he didn't have knowledge to fix it that is provided here.

                      I predict it will be a cooling issue formost with this unit which 66 will correct with a ext temp controller.

                      Then air curcilation inside the box followed by tower cooling.

                      After that 66 should have perfect 1st pours (as I do) a solid understanding of the process involved, and only out another $150. max to get there.


                      • #12
                        Killian and pvs, thank you both for your replies.
                        And pvs, you were right on the money.
                        I got to 14psi, and the little off gassing bubbles are gone; the co2 is staying where in belongs, in my beer.
                        Letting it sit overnight has made a notable difference. This game is all about patience.

                        I just poured 2 glasses, first was 3/4 foam and then the 2nd was only 1/4-1/3. Not correct, but MUCH better. AND enough liquid beer to dunk the thermometer into. It is 40 degress or a fraction over. So now I feel like my next few hours will likely be devoted to researching the temp controllers you speak of. The beer is also much more drinkable now, so hopefully that doesn't impede progress too much.

                        I do try to be informed as much as possible, people help those who help themselves. I think I as slowly getting a handle on the concepts, but the information I gather can be conflicting. For example: I read that bubbles/foam from the disconnected sankey coupler means there's a bad seal. However, I don't think that is necessarily the case for would stand to reason that it was because I had beer in the line that was continuously separating, causing those off-gassing bubbles to rush straight to the exposed end.

                        In the same leg, I am not fully clear on temperatures. I read that it needs to be between 34-38, 36-38, 36-40...taking the law of averages, I am figuring 36-38 is what I should shoot for, but even then I am not clear. I mean, I understand it has to stay cold, but why the range--is this just personal preference? Are the ales supposed to be colder than lagers? Does each brewer have a specific recommended temp like carb levels? I have a decent head on my shoulders, but things like these I don't yet understand. I intend to build a much bigger bar, but not until I feel like I fully understand it.

                        Anyway, I wanted to call it quits last night on what is probably an enjoyable hobby, and just wanted to say thanks to you guys for keeping me from doing just that.

                        I have a search box, but if any of you guys have any recommended reading on the temp controllers and circulation/tower cooling I'd appreciate it.

                        pvs: as an aside, the perlick faucet is drippy. like a good 3-5 drips after a pour, it doesn't seem right as the el cheapo that didn't even work right dripped one or 2. Having no experience for comparison, is this right? I know there are drip trays for a reason, but it seems a little excessive...


                        • #13
                          Mostly pvs6, not me, I was going to link my Haier Diary but destroyed it instead, this is the next best thread:
                          Everything you need to know about balancing is there, but it is a v/v to temperature to PSI relationship, v/v is set in stone, find the temperature of beer in keg, then set the PSI.
                          The key in this statement is "beer in keg", with the Haier I have had serious problems keeping a steady temperature throughout unit. The goal is to get the temperature the same from keg to faucet, without air circulation and tower without cooler and insulation, it might take 5 glasses to find the temperature of the beer in keg. As the beer travels from keg, warm air at top of unit and warm tower will warm beer as you pour beer, it takes a lot of beer if beer line is warm. A tower cooler should solve all of your temperature problems.
                          Beer temperature is all about personal taste and not what someone else thinks, some breweries have a "recommended" temperature but most say whatever you want. Understand the danger zone is about 34 degrees, anything lower the beer might separate (water molecules freeze), so 36 degrees should be the lowest, with a Haier I haven't been able to go below 38 degrees.
                          My feeling is your temperature is around 38-39 degrees, which for your beer 14 PSI is pretty much dead on.
                          Just leave the glass on drip tray for 15 seconds, that should solve the drip problem.


                          • #14
                            Yes That faucet does have 3-5 drips after every pour and the last one can be 10 sec. or more after the pour, making it quite unreasonable with a beer waiting to be comsumed to be standing there waiting on it to stop drooling. But if you have 10 beers a day that's only 30 drops or about a thimble full so you will bearly notice it in the drip tray, and it will be dried up by the next day.

                            Foam issuing from the bottom of a tapped coupler is a bad seal. Foam and a small puddle of beer when removing the coupler from the keg is normal and of no concern.

                            Killian is right temp is for the consumer to regulate to his own preference. The general useful serving range is 34F-40F. Of note is that the colder a beer becomes the less flavor profile it exhibits.

                            Wow Amazon is charging $50 for a pre-made fan, outragious. I made mine from spare parts in the junk drawer for free.
                            This link does a good job of describing the process, and just youtube beer tower fan for video demos.

                            Build a Tower Cooling Fan


                            • #15
                              There should be a set screw on your thermostat that adjusting will move the cooling range lower. It's a tricky tweak that can and often has ended in the destruction of the thermostat. Pro: if it works lower cooling at no cost incurred. Con: extreme care must be used so you don't over turn and break thermostat. If thermostat is distroyed it can be replaced at a reasonable price or you can then just go with an ext. controller. The ext. controller bypasses the thermostat anyway so you don't need it.

                              Temp controllers: 1) Analog. it's cheaper has a rotary knob like a thermostat. 2) Digital. Push button setting and LED readout. Provides the best control of temps.

                              2 major brands; Johnson is the most commonly used, and Ranco.

                              I went with this one because it holds 1 degree constant temp. (compressor on at 37F - off at 39F) and at the time it was a few dollars less than simular Johnson which only had a 2 degree differential.

                              RANCO ETC-111000 Digital Cold Temperature Control NEW: Tools Products: Industrial & Scientific