I finally came into some more kegs for serving my beer (woohoo!). I noted in my previous clean in place themed post, that while my keg cleaning method seemed to work well, it wasn’t very efficient when just doing one or two kegs. I had six to clean on the weekend. So how’d it scale? Well, it did take a long time to get through all of the kegs, longer than I care for. I definitely wasn’t babysitting the process though. I’d set up one step of the clean in place process on a keg, walk away and do something, come back, and carry on.
I recently purchased a hop filter, and I was glad to find another use for it in keg cleaning. During recirculation I can use it to separate debris from the recirculating cleaning solution. It worked quite well for that! Speaking of hop debris: kegs of heavily hopped beers posed some difficulties. I currently rely on gravity to drain the various solutions out of the kegs, and that is slow going when hop debris are involved (the hop filter should reduce this issue in the future). I tried to clean a fermenting keg in place a couple weeks back, and that was downright impossible with the debris involved.
I understand that a commercial keg cleaner can do about 40 kegs an hour. I slowly made it through 6 kegs over an afternoon. I’m certainly grateful I’m not cleaning bottles but I’m still looking for improvement. 10 minutes a keg is my ultimate goal, and I think it is obtainable if I had an air compressor involved to blow out the cleaning solution between stages, and the use of some sort of manifold. My current method means I connect and unconnect a coupler from each keg four times. I’d love if I only had to do that once. Water efficiency is also huge for me. Not because of the cost so much, but because I’m limited to brewing in my garage which is without running water or drain (which means bringing all of my water in AND out). I’m jealous of all you basement brewers in that respect… a consideration for the next house/brewery!