Carbonation Process for Beer: Bottle Carbonation and Keg Carbonation

Celebrations just don’t seem to be complete without beer. There are other alcoholic drinks such as vodka, tequila, whiskey, wine and such. But when it comes to partying, the alcoholic drink that always comes to mind first is beer. A lot of people love the bitter taste of beer and they particularly love a good beer that is cold and has a good amount of fizz. A beer that doesn’t have fizz is just bad and nobody would want to have flat beer.

So, what is that fizz and how are beers created with that great fizzy feel and sound? It’s called carbonation. Carbonation simply means a process wherein you dissolve carbon dioxide to the liquid, in this case in the beer. Beer is made through the process of fermentation. The brewer would mix in their hops and malt then will add the yeast.

Fermentation lasts for several months before you can actually enjoy your brewed beer. Some just let the process of fermentation of their malt to continue on with carbonation while many home brewers prefer to add that extra fizz by adding the priming sugar before bottling so the living yeast would still have the sugar to digest and result in the addition of carbon dioxide. When you open your beer you would get that extra fizz and that is what consumers want.

Home brewers can carbonate their beers in 2 ways,
1- Bottle carbonation
2- Keg carbonation

This simply means that you have an option of carbonating your beers individually in bottles or you would want to carbonate a larger amount of beer in kegs.

Home brewers use priming to carbonate their bottled beers. Before they put the beers in the bottle after they are done fermenting, they add a certain amount of priming sugar in each bottle. The amount of priming sugar varies so you really have to do your research first to ensure you would get the quality and exact amount of carbonation you desire. There are several online calculators that can help on the amount of priming sugar. You can naturally carbonate your bottled beer. This process is a bit tedious, can take several days before you can actually enjoy your homemade beer.

Now for beer kegs, you can actually choose from natural carbonation or forced carbonation. In natural carbonation you have to follow the same process as in bottled carbonation wherein you need to use a brewer’s calculator to give you the right amount of priming sugar and how many days after you initiate carbonation to enjoy your beer. Usually in keg carbonation you will be using only half the amount of priming sugar as you would with bottled beers.

The other way is called forced carbonation wherein you need to add carbon dioxide into your beer. This type of keg carbonation requires you to purchase a CO2 tank. You still need to follow a chart for the amount of CO2 to add and for what pressure and under what temperature. Make sure you follow the chart and don’t add too much CO2 or get a really high pressure. Make sure to release the pressure if you added too much. Then you would need to wait for about 3 days to completely carbonate the beer after you added the CO2. This is what most people prefer if they want to get access to their beer quickly.

Whatever method you choose to carbonate your beer, you would still be happy as long as you do it right and you get the right fizz every time you drink your beer. Just make sure you serve your beer really cold as carbon dioxide is soluble to cold liquids and it gets easily released when the liquid (in this case the beer) is not cold enough.