A carb stone or a carbonating stone is one of the tools used in carbonating kegs forcefully. Some developed a liking to it while others are not as impressed with it. It really depends on the kind of system you want to setup for your beermaking so it’s best to consider both the pros and the cons of using carbonating stone for kegs.
What is a carb stone or a carbonating stone? The best way to describe it is to visualize an aerating stone that is commonly used for fish tanks or aquarium. Basically it’s a porous stone that allows gas pumped out of it. Because the gas comes out as fine bubbles, you are maximizing the surface area between the gas and the liquid it’s aerated on. For this reason, carb stone or carbonating stone is used to speed up the carbonating process of beers.
Many brewers add the carbonating stone to their brite tank. You need to set it up nicely and do take note that every now and then you need to deeply clean your carb stones to avoid any sort of contamination that may destroy your future beers. You can then gradually increase the pressure of your CO2 gas to reach the serving pressure you desire. Also, make sure that the top part of your keg is unscrewed to avoid over carbonating your tank while adding the CO2. There are many different types of valves you can also use that will give the same effect of simply releasing the extra CO2 without letting any oxygen in there.
Some say that using a carbonating stone for kegs isn’t really worth it. It saves you a day or two and for some that isn’t really much. But if you are the type who thinks saving 1 or 2 days off your carbonation process is a very important deal then investing on a carb stone will be best for you.
Cleaning the carb stone is done using a caustic solution which you use every time you empty your keg. But that shouldn’t be the only method you use to clean it. Every few months you need to remove the carb stone and clean it all throughout and that might take some time to do. Also, do make sure your carb stone is still working properly. Otherwise, it’s best to dispose of it and buy a new one. You want to optimize your carbonation with the use of this type of stone so it needs to gently add the CO2 in your keg with very small bubbles.
How much does a carb stone cost? It depends but it is around the range of $20-$30. It’s a good investment especially if you are into bulk carbonation but if you prefer the old-fashioned way then it’s best to stay on the natural carbonation method and be patient in waiting ‘til the right time comes when you can finally enjoy your beer.
Do take note that carbonation should be controlled as the addition of CO2 is important in how your beer is going to turn out. The taste and odor of your beer would be affected and surely beer drinkers would want to experience the fizz. Over carbonation on the other hand, would leave you with only the foam in your beer mugs.