Celebrations just don't seem complete without beer. While there are other alcoholic drinks like vodka, tequila, whiskey, and wine, beer is always the first choice when it comes to partying. Many people enjoy the bitter taste of beer, especially when it's cold and fizzy. A beer without fizz is considered bad, as no one wants flat beer.
So, what exactly is that fizz and how is it created in beer? It's called carbonation. Carbonation is the process of dissolving carbon dioxide into the liquid, in this case, beer. Beer is made through the fermentation process, which involves the brewer mixing hops and malt and adding yeast.
Fermentation typically lasts for several weeks, not months, before you can actually enjoy your brewed beer. Some home brewers choose to allow the process of fermentation to continue in the bottle, resulting in natural carbonation. However, many prefer to add priming sugar before bottling to ensure a desired level of fizziness. By doing so, the living yeast in the beer will still have sugar to consume, which in turn produces carbon dioxide. When you open a bottle of beer, the addition of priming sugar provides that extra fizz that consumers desire.
Home brewers can carbonate their beers in two ways: 1) bottle carbonation and 2) keg carbonation. This means that you have the option to individually carbonate your beers in bottles, or carbonate a larger quantity of beer in kegs.
Home brewers use priming to carbonate their bottled beers. After the beers have finished fermenting, they add a specific amount of priming sugar to each bottle. The quantity of priming sugar can vary, so it's important to do thorough research to achieve the desired quality and level of carbonation. Thankfully, there are several online calculators available to assist with determining the appropriate amount of priming sugar. It is possible to naturally carbonate your bottled beer, although the process can be somewhat time-consuming, often requiring several days before you can savor your homemade beer.
Now, for beer kegs, you have the option to choose between natural carbonation or forced carbonation. With natural carbonation, you must follow the same process as with bottled carbonation. This involves using a brewer's calculator to determine the correct amount of priming sugar and the number of days needed for carbonation before you can enjoy your beer. Typically, when carbonating in kegs, you will only use half the amount of priming sugar compared to bottled beers.
The other method is known as forced carbonation, where you add carbon dioxide directly to your beer. This process involves using a CO2 tank, and it is important to refer to a chart that determines the appropriate amount of CO2 to add, as well as the correct pressure and temperature. It is crucial to carefully adhere to the chart and avoid over-carbonating your beer or creating excessively high pressure. If you accidentally add too much CO2, be sure to release the excess pressure. After adding the CO2, you will need to wait approximately three days for the beer to fully carbonate. This method is preferred by many individuals who desire a quick access to their beer.
Whatever method you choose to carbonate your beer, you will be happy as long as you do it correctly and achieve the desired fizz every time you enjoy your drink. Just ensure that you serve your beer at a very cold temperature, as carbon dioxide is more soluble in cold liquids and is readily released when the liquid (in this case beer) is not adequately chilled.