Many home brewers prefer to carbonate their beers in a keg instead of bottling them individually. You can easily get a glass of beer from your keg, same thing as opening a bottle of beer but with less hard work trying to get all the beer in the bottles. If you’re planning to make beer for your own consumption or perhaps to enjoy the beer in parties then kegging is the best way to go. It’s really up to one’s preference whether you’d go for bottling or keg. If you do decide on kegging your beer then you also have to know about the different ways in carbonating a keg.
Basically, you can do 2 methods of carbonation and that is the natural method and the force carbonation method. In force carbonation, you’d actually be choosing between the “waiting” method, the “shaking” method and the “injecting” method. Let’s begin with the natural carbonation method.
In natural carbonation, you will be reviving the weakened yeast after fermentation by feeding it with priming sugar. You add the priming sugar to your keg where you fill it up with your fermented beer and the yeast would happily digest the sugar and convert it further into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This method takes about 7 days or so before you can get the desired result. But, since we are using a keg, you would still need to fill it up with carbon dioxide just to seal the keg properly. The addition of the CO2 would be displacing the oxygen in the keg because you wouldn’t want oxygen in there. This results to a cloudy beer though so in order to get rid of this, let it settle first and discard the first few glasses of beer to remove all the residues from the yeast.
Force carbonation method should be done in the right pressure and temperature. Study about this method first before you give it a try. There are online calculators to be your guide. Make sure you don’t overcarbonate as the result won’t be pleasing. In the “waiting” method you would have to establish the constant temperature and pressure first then you wait for like 7 days before you can enjoy your beer. This is a simple method that prevents overcarbonation but you got to be patient.
The “shake” method is for those who can’t wait 1 week to try their beer. Do the similar processes as in the “waiting” method but this time you shake it, give it time to rest, then shake it again over and over. You’ll hear a different sound of the CO2 in the gas regulator and when this sound stops, your beer is ready.
The last method is the injecting method. This simply means you inject the CO2 from the bottom of the keg to expose it to the beer so the CO2 would be exposed to the surface of the beer more rapidly. With this method you need to bleed off the keg’s pressure though to avoid causing your beer to foam from the lid. You need to reach the pressure for equilibrium and not be over it. You need to unscrew the relief valve on top of your keg. This can be a bit tricky but if you’re already an expert home brewer then you’d know how to adjust this to avoid overcarbonating. This method is indeed the fastest method of carbonating a keg.
Control is very important so if you are still a newbie, better start with a method that is easier for you to control so you’d end up with a really great tasting beer and not waste it in foam.