As I mentioned on Friday, we tapped a couple 5-gallon kegs of garden-fresh-hopped Bitter this weekend. The beer was, as usual, a hit—served alongside a companion keg of a friend’s homebrewed dry cider—but we ran into a snag at 11PM or so: we ran out of gas.
This has, as they say, never happened to me before. I was terribly embarrassed. We were nearly done with the cider, but we had plenty of beer left in the tank, and dozens of people eager to drink it. We just had no way to get it out.
Confusingly, the regulator on the tank was telling me that I had nearly 400 pounds of pressure (with a full tank reading about 800 pounds). This happens to be the high edge of the red “refill me” zone, but it sure seemed like that should be plenty to get something going, given that 1 bar (the average atmospheric pressure at sea level) is just under 15 psi…
We gave up; the guests put together a store run, and all was fine—at least until we got into the tequila. But I digress…
Today I prepared to make a run to the homebrew supply store for our next brew (on which more later this week), and I disconnected the CO2 tank and brought it up. It still read 400 psi. I removed the regulator, which continued to insist that it was (pardon me) under a lot of pressure. Sigh.
To top things off, when I presented the bottle at the draught-supply counter at the store, I was informed that the tank was overdue for an inspection and couldn’t be refilled without one.
Things are looking up, though. I took the tank to a fire-suppression vendor, who happily exchanged it for a current and full cylinder. It’s working fine, though the regulator wants me to believe that there is only 400 psi of gas in there.
Looks like replacement regulator gauges are reasonably affordable—$10 or so—so I’ll fix that in the near future. I’m also planning on investing in a second 5lb tank, so I can take the same approach I do with propane cylinders: run it dry, then switch to the full cylinder, and refill at your (timely) leisure after that. Lesson learned.
Tomorrow I’ll keg 10 gallons of stout, in part to free up a couple fermenters for brewing on Thursday. That brew will be one of my favorite recipes, a rye-driven pale ale, which should complement the stout nicely in the basement bar. It may be a cold and wet brewing session, but if I’m going to continue brewing through the winter, I’ll have to get used to it.