When making beer at home, you can carbonate your beer naturally or by forced carbonation wherein you add the carbon dioxide to your beer instead of letting the fermentation process does it. A lot of home brewers are now choosing forced carbonation over the natural carbonation process for their beer even though it costs more.
What is natural carbonation?
Natural carbonation is a process wherein you add priming sugar to your fermented beer so that the yeast would eat the priming sugar and turns it into carbon dioxide.
Beer making requires fermentation of malt to convert the malt into alcohol. During the fermentation process carbon dioxide is being released. The gas release is the indicator of ongoing fermentation, slows down when the fermentation process slows down. When the malt has been fermented enough -when the gas release is very slow- that’s the time the home brewer would start bottling the beer. The priming sugar are added into the cleaned up beer bottles and the remaining yeast would continue to digest this priming sugar. After a few days, the beer bottles are ready for consumption and you would hear that sought after fizz when you open it. With natural carbonation, you don’t need any expensive tools or ingredients to give the fizz you want to achieve in your beer. But it does take more time as you still have to wait for several days before you can open the bottles of beer you made. The amount of carbon dioxide formed using this process may also vary so you won’t get the same result each time. But prolonging the fermentation of priming sugar can add more fizz.
What is forced carbonation?
Forced carbonation simply means you are going to put the carbon dioxide directly to your beer. This is usually done in kegs rather than in bottles. You would need your CO2 tank and you have to check the carbonation chart to determine the right pressure for the level of your preferred carbonation. This method is much faster so you can enjoy your beer in a shorter waiting time than with natural carbonation.
For starter home-brewers, forced carbonation may require a bit of extra budget. But it will be worth it if you want to enjoy your beer in greater speed. Also, with forced carbonation you can get clearer beer and the amount of fizz is controlled.
Others would also do the natural carbonation first then would force carbonate their beer to add that extra fizz. Whatever you choose would really depend on your preference. What’s important is that you would be satisfied with the end beer you would get. Nothing can compare to drinking your own home brewed beer whether it is naturally carbonated or forced carbonated.
The bottom line is, forced carbonation has a higher starting cost but would make beer-making much easier and faster. Forced carbonation makes clearer beer, gives you the amount of fizz you want based on the right amount of carbon dioxide pressure for your concentration of beer. All in all, many prefer this over natural carbonation now and it’s worth giving a shot.