So I pull out the keg the other day to bottle the Blackberry Brew that I’ve been fermenting for a couple of weeks, and what do I discover? The keg damn near exploded, that’s what.
Like I’ve said in earlier posts, the screw top system seems to have a few drawbacks. For one thing, the level of tightening that you need to use is questionable. I appearantly overtightened the lid, and the result was that the keg was overpressurized. Given that it is a fruit based beer, there’s a lot of fermentation going on, which means a lot of gas released. With it too tight, the gas couldn’t easily escape the keg and the keg was bulging and bent out of shape. Fortunately, it didn’t actually burst, but it was indeed pressurized, as I discovered when removing the lid and hearing the fizzzzzzz sound it made.
The beer was fine and I was able to bottle it easily enough, but the keg is damaged to the point where I really can’t use it any more. It also did some damage to the tap mechanism, which is not surprising considering the quality of the mechanism anyway.
I’ve changed my next club order to get a new keg, along with a 2 liter growler. The keg is only $10, so it’s not a big loss or anything, still, it is a bit annoying. I think I’ll keep using the Mr. Beer keg for smaller batches, but I’m definitely going to go buy a more sturdy fermenting vessel and make some larger batches as well. I’ll probably only continue to use the Mr. Beer for experimentation purposes, since I do find that an 8 liter batch is darn near perfect in terms of speed. You can have a decent beer made from start to finish in a month with that quantity, whereas the next bigger size (5 gallons) would take at least 3 months or so.
All in all, given the quality of the keg in such circumstances, and the non-dishwasher safeness of it, I can only recommend the Mr. Beer setup for a) people new to home-brewing and wanting to learn easily, and b) people wanting an easy way to quickly experiment with new brews and styles. The lack of a proper airlock with a ball valve (to prevent contamination) just makes the Mr. Beer keg suitable only for very short fermentation times. 2 weeks, maximum.
Just be sure not to overtighten the lid.