It is more effort to add a little sugar to the beer before kegging than it is to invoke the carbonation process and equipment?
Yes. Because you transfer off extended primary, or secondary into a CO2 rich environment. Hook up a few lines and your done. My motivating factor was I wanted to be able to drink my beer without having to wait 2-4 weeks for bottle conditioning/carbonation. I still bottle mind you, but only certain styles that require it. Most everything else is keged.
but aren't there the up front costs, CO2 pressure tank refills,
Yes but once you own one, that is a nominal cost in the big picture, and I get about 5-6 keg's worth out of a refill so the cost is minimal spread over the 5-6 kegs
Connections to be made and tested each time,
Yes on the connections but they don't need to be tested. You just hook it up and done.
lines and connections to clean, and some other things to do that all must happen for each batch~?
Yes but this is just all part of it. Just like you have to clean the bottles wash off the labels. There is always prep work.
What I presume to be a fair bit of exercise and cost make up the reason I posed the question.
No more exercise than bottling IMO. You still jump through hoops for your bottles, If you don't you get infections. As for the cost. I have a simple system one 7lb tank with gauges and a y that splits and feeds two kegs. Total for everything was about $130. I just made room in the beer fridge and I was done.
I must be missing something.
Ya the ability to drink beer two weeks earlier... (:
But then there are tablets you can just toss in the keg with the beer and close it up ~ ~ ~yes?
Yes but if you own the keging system you already have everything you need. Why add to the risk of infection...
Do the tablets work as well as CO2 pressure tanks and sparging stones?
Don't know, never tried them.
I have thought of kegging as merely a way to avoid the bottling stage. Filling capping exposing to air etc.
In the respect it seems like a good idea but then there's lines and chillers and plumbing to assemble pay for and maintain.
I refill my bottle, and clean the lines only occasionally. Once a keg is empty and as long as the two beers are similar,I transfer to the next keg and keep going. everything is clean in the keg, no reason to clean every time.
Some guys have a little bar of sorts where they have their keg chiller and beer spigots, some guys have posts talking about chilling the lines from the cellar or garage based kegs. It seems like a lot of effort. Those lines need cleaning and care. I'll never have that "wet bar" location. I have a large enough house, but there's really no place were a bar (wet or dry) would make sense in this building.
So If I kegged I'd be running up and down from a dusty dirty 250 year old Cellar for each refill.
I may never get to the "keg" experience. It may never be practical for me.
Ya, my keg is in the garage. SWMBO wont let me keep the beer fridge in the house ):