Everything beer engine, polypins, cask and questions

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shoreman
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Everything beer engine, polypins, cask and questions

Post by shoreman » Wed Nov 06, 2019 3:32 pm

This is my first post here, but I found some great information on cask ales so I thought this was the place to go.

I'm considering purchasing a beer engine and running some 10L polypins or 2.5 gallon corny kegs and would really appreciate any advice you might have here - I've been researching this for a couple of weeks and have been down a few rabbit holes. Some background below:

So I've been brewing for a good amount of time 20 yrs or so and have had a couple of keezers that I've built and my last one just died. I'm not interested in building another one and just want to cellar my homebrew. I'm in New England and my basement is anywhere between 50-65 degrees depending on the time of year. I mostly brew sessions ales and those tend to be bitters, milds, scottish ales, porters, stouts and ipas. If I brew something in the Belgian vein, it is getting bottled.

I've been to England three times fell in love with real ale & cask beer.

I'd like to come as close as I can to creating some real ales, but I won't be inviting CAMRA over to inspect my setup. That is, I'd like to serve flavorful hand drawn pints at cellar temp with low carbonation and natural carbonation, possibly through a beer engine.

After my keezer died I tried using something similar to this - https://www.homebrewing.org/25-Gallon-B ... _8063.html and naturally carbonated it to low c02 and got a ton of foam and generally flat beer until the end of the keg. Wasn't a good experience and I would not recommend that.

I have two 2.5 gallon corny kegs and this regulator https://www.morebeer.com/products/mini- ... lator.html

I have a little bit of budget and am thinking of purchasing a Mason's Pint 365 rather than going down the route of building one of these hand pumps - https://byo.com/project/build-a-beer-engine-projects

I'd rather not buy a cask breather and purchase another 5lb c02 system as I just got rid of that to help simplify my gear.

So my questions are (sorry for the long rant):

1. Using 10L polypins where I'm maybe drinking 1-2 pints a night (that's 18 pints) - would you need to flush out the Beer Engine regularly?
2. Has anyone here used the Pint 365 https://www.pint365.com/pint365/p380
3. This guy hookedit up to a corny keg - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oo-UqVmc5g4 - could you just vent it for a couple of pints and then hit it with c02 with my regulator
4. Have any of you use a spunding valve on your polypin to monitor the pressure before serving?
5. Does anyone know of UK polypin companies that ship the bags?

I guess I'm on the fence of buying the beer engine, but I do not want to build out one of the these RV taps either. I've done my fair share of homebrew builds and sometimes they are more expensive than just purchasing something out the gate.

I'm in the US, so getting parts to rebuild an engine off of eBay is not something I'm interested in either.

Any help would be appreciated, thanks!

Robwalkeragain
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Re: Everything beer engine, polypins, cask and questions

Post by Robwalkeragain » Wed Nov 06, 2019 4:28 pm

Cask breathers won’t preserve the beer as well as you probably want, unless you’re a big drinker. I have a pump in my house and it’s quite difficult to get a proper level of carbonation in polypins, the simple fact is real ale is designed to be turned over quickly so it may be tough to keep the beer in the condition you want.

My personal solution is to use corny kegs with a handpull. Haven’t set it up myself but it’s the best of both worlds, beer that will keep well and you just carbonate to a low level like english ale. The motion of the beer engine makes an enormous difference to flavour and there really is only a marginal difference to the “real aleness” of it all.

For water flush, ideally you’d clear it every session, if not some sort of non return valve might prevent the beer in the line from spoiling overnight? But i know most people just shut off the flow from keg with an isolator or similar, then empty the line into a pint glass.

shoreman
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Re: Everything beer engine, polypins, cask and questions

Post by shoreman » Wed Nov 06, 2019 5:41 pm

Thanks Robwalkeragain - with the corny kegs and handpull are you just venting the keg and then closing when done? I'm wondering how you would:

1. Stop a vacuum from happening from the pull of the engine.
2. Stop the beer from entering the engine after you are finished if it is hooked up to the corny keg and has some c02 in it.

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Re: Everything beer engine, polypins, cask and questions

Post by Northern Brewer » Wed Nov 06, 2019 5:58 pm

Standard advice for typical bitter vented to the air in a pub situation in 9g (41 litres) casks would be 3 days shelflife ideally, usually OK for 5 days, you might get away with an extra day or two for big/dark beers but it's not ideal. And then do a full clean with linecleaner and two flushes of water between firkins. So ideally you want to drink a bit more :) - I've no direct experience of how it would age in 10l (other than presumably quicker due to greater surface area:volume) so all I can do is say how it works in firkins.

I think I've seen reviews of the 365 along the lines of "a bit plasticy but works OK".

Another option would be the Mason Shakespeare, which is a handpull mechanism that connects directly to Sankey-fitting kegs - depends how purist you want to be I guess.

"the bags"????

shoreman
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Re: Everything beer engine, polypins, cask and questions

Post by shoreman » Wed Nov 06, 2019 6:38 pm

This is where I got the idea about using the Polypins (the bags), seems to be a great pour on that beer:

How to install Hand Pull & Flexi Cask for Homebrew
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_zSwhYvd_U

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Re: Everything beer engine, polypins, cask and questions

Post by McMullan » Thu Nov 07, 2019 2:05 pm

I think cask ale should have more condition than a polypin might allow. Although the polypins should work very well in terms of longevity of the ale, if you don't mind it without much condition. I think it was Graham Wheeler who suggested ale from a freshly tapped cask could be partly bottled to avoid wasting too much ale when using a beer engine at home. That got me thinking, why not transfer from a cask or keg to a smaller vessel and feed the beer engine with that? I use a 2L or 3.6L mini keg. Obviously, you'll need CO2 to transfer ale from the cask or keg to the mini keg. I don't bother using corny kegs here either. A sankey keg with a modified tri-clamp cap for commercial kegs (from KegLand) works much better, especially when carbonating naturally.

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Re: Everything beer engine, polypins, cask and questions

Post by Goosey » Thu Nov 07, 2019 4:04 pm

I've been using beer engines and polypins (or cubitainers as they're called here) for years and they work perfectly well for 'cask' ale. If they are primed as you would do for bottled beer then they are just like a real ale would be served in a British pub. I hook up the cubitainer with silicon tubing then pass the beer through a chiller unit up into the beer engine and that's it.

shoreman
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Re: Everything beer engine, polypins, cask and questions

Post by shoreman » Thu Nov 07, 2019 5:38 pm

Thanks for the information - Goosey, can you describe your setup from your Engine to the bag? Do you have a demand valve hooked near the engine? Also what do you do in between sessions? Do you flush the engine with water?

We have cubitainers here as well and I'll be using those and possibly my cornies if I can figure that out.

Thanks, this is super helpful.

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Re: Everything beer engine, polypins, cask and questions

Post by Dennis King » Thu Nov 07, 2019 7:58 pm

Goosey wrote:
Thu Nov 07, 2019 4:04 pm
I've been using beer engines and polypins (or cubitainers as they're called here) for years and they work perfectly well for 'cask' ale. If they are primed as you would do for bottled beer then they are just like a real ale would be served in a British pub. I hook up the cubitainer with silicon tubing then pass the beer through a chiller unit up into the beer engine and that's it.
I have been using this system without the chiller for many years. Here is a post about polypins I started several years back. Unfortunately a member who contributed a lot to the post left and took his posts with him so it can seem a bit disjointed in places.

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=11340&hilit=polypin+management

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Re: Everything beer engine, polypins, cask and questions

Post by Wet Spaniel » Thu Nov 07, 2019 8:37 pm

Shoreman, before getting casks (which I only use when I’ve plenty of thirsty friends around) I hooked a beer engine up to cornies. It worked pretty well. I used a check valve in the beer line, it allows the beer to be pulled on demand rather than pushed out by the gas you have set up to the corny. I set the gas pressure as low as I could without the lid being pulled in. It was then quite easy to change the beer disconnect onto a keg of water to clean out after use. Now, as a result of reading Dennis’s excellent post (above) some years back, I tried using poly pins and really took to them. I don’t use them all the time, but I do find them easy to manage, connect and clean - simply disconnect your 1/2’’ line from the poly pin, pull through the remaining beer in the engine Cylinder and then pull some water /cleaner through. I’d give the poly pins a go - for me, they work really well.

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Re: Everything beer engine, polypins, cask and questions

Post by Goosey » Fri Nov 08, 2019 9:29 am

Hello Shoreman. The cubitainer is connected directly to the chiller via some silicon tubing that just pushes onto the tap. No coupling required and no check valve anywhere either. From the chiller it goes directly to the beer pump. I flush through with water after every event, but clean properly if there is a delay before the next use.

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Re: Everything beer engine, polypins, cask and questions

Post by PeeBee » Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:24 am

Goosey wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 9:29 am
Hello Shoreman. The cubitainer is connected directly to the chiller via some silicon tubing that just pushes onto the tap. No coupling required and no check valve anywhere either. From the chiller it goes directly to the beer pump. I flush through with water after every event, but clean properly if there is a delay before the next use.
Watch out! Silicon tubing is almost transparent to oxygen! I don't flush out my handpumps (much) because I seal the nozzle between serving with a solenoid valve. But I couldn't understand why beer would still oxidise in the pump. But the pumps (Angram CQ) have a short length of silicon tube in them. When that was replaced, no more oxidation.
shoreman wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 3:32 pm
This is my first post here, but I found some great information on cask ales so I thought this was the place to go. …
Definitely an excuse to wheel out my "treatise" again! You can find it by following the link in the following:
PeeBee wrote:
Tue Mar 20, 2018 12:05 pm
… Don't care much for "breathers" and "cask aspirators" for home-brew for this and that reason; I use variable LPG regulators (0.75-2PSI) for controlling the gas (see https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwzEv5 ... V1bWc/view if you haven't already).

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Re: Everything beer engine, polypins, cask and questions

Post by McMullan » Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:01 pm

That's where I got 'my' idea from :lol: The intermediary works really well for me :D

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PeeBee
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Re: Everything beer engine, polypins, cask and questions

Post by PeeBee » Fri Nov 08, 2019 2:13 pm

McMullan wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:01 pm
That's where I got 'my' idea from :lol: The intermediary works really well for me :D
:beer: Though credit where it's due; the "intermediary" idea was filched off fellow forumite "Dads_Ale" (although from a different forum at that time).

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Re: Everything beer engine, polypins, cask and questions

Post by Northern Brewer » Fri Nov 08, 2019 2:56 pm

shoreman wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 6:38 pm
This is where I got the idea about using the Polypins (the bags)
Heh - confusion in language. To my mind a polypin is a plastic pin barrel - I guess what most homebrewers would think of as a 4.5 (imperial) gallon pressure barrel. I'd not come across people referring to bag-in-boxes as polypins, although Googling suggests it's fairly widespread. Looks like it could be partly a regional thing, more common down south.

You do see some use of Bibs attached to handpulls in real pubs, although mostly for cider. They can be a bit of a bugger for bag-conditioned stuff, as any slight disturbance kicks up yeast from the floor of the bag.

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