Thanks to one of the guys I met at the BEERS hanami, I now have a source for small CO2 canisters – Water Plants World (yup, not a beer place!) They also sell the 5kg tanks, though more expensive than my local. 

The small canisters are made by NTG who also make regulators – I believe it’s not possible to buy direct from NTG however, though I’ve not tried. Water Plants World also sells regulators – whether those would work for beer, I don’t know. This is still a new area to me and I’m finding my feet. This comment on a Lost in Fermentation post (I wont link direct to the post because I notice the Lost in Fermentation URL structure seems to have changed recently, which may mean it changes again later and breaks the link) has made me cautious:

Where did you source your regulator? The threads are different between US and Japanese gas connections. So if you got it here, you are good. If you got it from the US or Aus, you may have an expensive paper weight.

In response Brett included a link to some converter sockets, but I want to make sure I have everything planned out “right” before I buy. That’s one reason why I have not bought a dispensing machine on auction yet (though it is tempting).

Mini CO2 cylinder and tap

Mini CO2 cylinder and tap

I’ve seen other small canisters pop up on yahoo auction (see image on the right). I can’t find any source or info on these at the moment yet. They appear to be designed for small dispensing machines, though the photo on the right shows that a tap can be added straight to them. Again, I’ve no idea whether the fittings are the same or not, and I also don’t know how they get refilled. Finding out info in Japan when you’re using Google Translate  is not the easiest thing in the world.