Comparison of Natural and Forced Carbonation in Home Beer Making

When making beer at home, you have the option to carbonate your beer naturally or through forced carbonation, where you add carbon dioxide to your beer instead of relying on the fermentation process to produce it. Many home brewers are now choosing forced carbonation over the natural carbonation process for their beer, even though it incurs higher costs.

What is natural carbonation?

Natural carbonation is a process where you add priming sugar to your fermented beer, allowing the yeast to consume the sugar and convert it into carbon dioxide.

In beer making, fermentation of malt is necessary to convert it into alcohol. During the fermentation process, carbon dioxide is released. The release of gas indicates ongoing fermentation, which slows down as the fermentation process slows down. When the malt has been sufficiently fermented - indicated by a very slow gas release - home brewers can start bottling the beer. Priming sugar is added to the cleaned beer bottles, and the remaining yeast continues to digest the sugar. After a few days, the beer bottles are ready to be consumed, and you will hear the desired fizz when you open them. Natural carbonation does not require any expensive tools or ingredients to achieve the desired fizz in your beer. However, it does take more time, as you still need to wait several days before you can open the bottles of beer you have made. The amount of carbon dioxide formed using this process may also vary, so you may not get the same result each time. Yet, prolonging the fermentation of priming sugar can increase the level of fizz in the beer.

What is forced carbonation?
Forced carbonation simply means that you are going to directly add carbon dioxide to your beer. This is typically done in kegs rather than in bottles. You will need a CO2 tank and you must consult the carbonation chart to determine the appropriate pressure for the desired level of carbonation. This method is much quicker, allowing you to enjoy your beer in a shorter amount of time compared to natural carbonation.

For beginner home-brewers, forced carbonation may require an additional budget. However, it will be worth it if you want to enjoy your beer more quickly. Additionally, with forced carbonation, you can achieve a clearer beer and have greater control over the amount of fizz.

Some brewers may even choose to naturally carbonate their beer first and then force carbonation to add extra fizz. Ultimately, the choice between natural and forced carbonation depends on personal preference. What's important is that you are satisfied with the final product of your home-brewed beer, regardless of whether it is naturally or force carbonated.

In conclusion, forced carbonation may have a higher initial cost but makes the beer-making process easier and faster. It produces clearer beer and allows for precise control over the desired level of carbonation. Consequently, many brewers now prefer forced carbonation over natural carbonation, making it worth a try.