CO2 is an essential factor to consider when dispensing draft beer and it’s typically the component that has the most questions associated with it. It’s unclear why people are easily intimidated with CO2, but it could be because chemical compounds and subscripts remind them of their high school chemistry class.
Without getting too technical, here are the answers to the most frequently asked CO2 questions:
1. How do I know what pressure my CO2 is set at?
Your regulator, which is the component that connects the tank to the air hose, will have either one or two gauges on it. If it only has one, then that’s the one you’re looking for. If it has two, look for the gauge that shows a range of about 0-60 PSI (pounds per square inch). This will be your regulated pressure gauge. The number the arrow is pointing to on this gauge is how much pressure is being delivered to your keg.
2. How do I know how much CO2 is left in my tank?
This is why it is worth considering a double gauge regulator. A double gauge regulator has a regulated pressure gauge as well as a high pressure gauge, which measures the amount of CO2 left in your cylinder. Without a double gauge regulator, it is a bit of a guessing game. Rather than waiting till you completely run out, it is good to know how many kegs can be dispensed per CO2 tank to know when the best time to refill is.
3. How many kegs can I dispense before needing to fill my CO2 tank?
If you’re using a 5lb. CO2 tank, you can dispense 2 to 4 full sized kegs before having to refill. The cooler the ambient temperature, the closer you’ll get to 4.
4. What pressure should my CO2 be set at?
Most American breweries advise for a CO2 pressure between 12-14 PSI. The brewery or distributor you received your keg from should have a pressure recommendation, and if you receive your keg from a third party, it’s best to call the brewery and ask. An inaccurate pressure can result in either under or over carbonation, which translates to either flat beer or an overly foamy beer.
5. Should my CO2 tank be inside or outside of the Kegerator?
Although it doesn’t make a significant difference either way, most CO2 tanks are mounted outside of the refrigeration compartment. This allows for a better use of space inside the refrigerator to fit kegs. Distance between the tank and the keg is not important as long as you have a reliable air hose. What is important is that your CO2 tank remains upright and is kept away from heat sources.
6. Where can I get my CO2 tank filled?
Local welding supply stores, locations that fill fire extinguishers, local home brew shops, and sporting stores that sell paint ball guns are among the most likely places to get your CO2 tank filled.
Diagram for Regulating Keg Compression:
Hopefully this answers all of your CO2 questions. If not, please leave your question in the comments section below and we’ll answer you as soon as we can. Now, let’s get back to what’s really important – drinking beer.