How to Clean a Keg: Best Tips and Tricks
Posted by Ron on 25th Apr 2021
One of the things that every brewer should know is how to clean a keg. No matter what type of kegs you are using, proper cleaning is a must if you want your beer to stay fresh, tasty and safe to drink.
The process of cleaning ball lock and Sanke kegs is not very complicated, and you can make it even easier, faster, and safer by using some of the tips and tricks from the Beverage Craft specialists. Let’s see how it’s done!
What Do I Need for Cleaning a Cornelius Keg?
The four main things you are going to need for cleaning a Cornelius keg are:
- Keg cleaning solution
Though the latter three are quite obvious, the keg cleaning solution requires a bit of explanation. In most cases, this cleaning solution is a can of alkaline-based cleaner like PBW (powdered brewery wash), No-Rinse cleansing powder or Craft Meister Keg and Carboy tablets& these solutions are dissolved in hot water, making the perfect compound for cleaning your kegs.
These keg cleaning chemicals feature a component that both oxidizes and helps to remove the yeast buildup or any other type of organic stains. Removing these stains is crucial not only for the taste and quality of your beer, but also for the safety of everyone drinking it. This is why we strongly recommend cleaning your Corny keg immediately once empty, but no less than once every two months.
In addition these keg cleaning system parts, you can also get a sanitizer like Star San to help sanitize your Cornelius keg after cleaning. Finally, you can save yourself some time and hassle by purchasing a beer keg cleaning kit that features all of these beer keg accessories in one bundle from Beverage Craft.
How to Clean a Sanke Keg?
The biggest challenge with Sanke kegs is that, unlike Cornelius kegs, they are much more difficult to take apart and get inside of them to clean all the nasties out. How do we solve this problem? Well, there are two ways you can go about cleaning a commercial keg (Sanke style):
Using a specialized keg cleaning machine, which cost around $10,000, you just load your kegs, press the button, and the automated keg washer handles the rest. These machines can even purge and pressurize kegs with CO2 to your custom preferences. Or get in touch with your fellow craft brewer, who can do that for you with using his nice and shiny professional keg cleaning machine.
Needless to say, this way of cleaning a Sanke keg is not always suitable for small breweries, bars, and draught beer enthusiasts.
That’s more like it! Turns out you can actually clean your Sanke kegs well and not spend a fortune! How? Well, you just have to remove the keg spear with a special tool and clean the insides using a keg cleaning solution.
Here are the steps forDIY keg cleaning:
- Before you start the Sanke keg cleaning process, make sure you’ve got all your cleaning components ready
- Depressurize the keg to let out all the remaining CO2 inside
- Remove the spear from the keg using a keg spear decompression tool
- Take a hose and rinse out the keg with warm water. Repeat 2-3 times
- Add the required amount of the keg cleaning solution (or tablets) and pour hot water into the keg. Shake the keg around a bit to help the buildup loosen up and come off the walls and bottom of the keg easier.
- Let the solution sit in the keg for 10-12 minutes, then drain
- Rinse out your keg again and drain (2-3 times)
- Fill the keg (around 10%) with your sanitizing solution, then rinse again
- Reinstall the spear and purge the keg with CO2
That’s the basic information you need to learn how to clean a beer keg! Don’t be afraid to try - hardly anything can go wrong. Just make sure you clean your keg regularly, at least once every two months.
How to Clean a Keg Tap Without a Kit?
In addition to the regular keg cleaning that you, the keg owner, are morally obligated to do, some attention needs to be paid to the other parts of your draft beer system, including the keg tap.
Much like with cleaning a keg, it goes better if you have a pre-assembled beer line cleaning kit but you can easily do it without it as well.
The tools/items you are going to need are:
- Spanner wrench
- Faucet cleaning brush
- A bowl filled with hot water
- Beer line cleaning solution
The cleaning process is quite simple and only takes these few steps:
- Disconnect the coupler from the keg and then completely disassemble it (add lower accordingly)
- Disconnect the faucet from the beer tower using a spanner wrench, then completely disassemble it
- Mix the cleaning solution into a bowl of hot water
- Put the disassembled faucet parts into the bowl and let them soak for about 30-50 minutes
- Using the faucet brush, clean the faucet parts of any debris that’s left
- Rinse the parts with clean water, reassemble the faucet, and reattach it to the beer tower