Many home brewers prefer to carbonate their beers in keg instead of bottling them individually. You can easily get a glass of beer from your keg. It will be the same thing as opening a bottle of beer but with less hard work trying to get all the beer in the bottles. If you are 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 would go for bottling or keg. If you decide on kegging your beer then you also have to know about the different ways in carbonating a keg.
Basically, there are 2 methods of carbonation:
1- Natural method
2- Force carbonation method
In force carbonation, you would actually be choosing between the “waiting” method, the “shaking” method and the “injecting” method.
Let’s begin with
1- 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. The yeast will happily digest the sugar and will 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 will still need to fill it up with carbon dioxide just to seal the keg properly. The addition of the CO2 will be displacing the oxygen in the keg because you won’t want oxygen there. This results to a cloudy beer though. 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.
2- 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.
3- In waiting method
you will establish constant temperature and pressure first then you will wait for like 7 days before you can enjoy your beer. This is a simple method that prevents overcarbonation. But you have to be patient.
4- shake method
is for those who can’t wait for 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 will hear a different sound of the CO2 in the gas regulator and when this sound stops, your beer is ready.
5- injecting method
simply means you inject CO2 from bottom of keg to expose it to beer. So CO2 would be exposed to beer surface more rapidly. With this method you need to bleed off 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 relief valve on top of your keg. This can be a bit tricky. But if you are already an expert home brewer then you would know how to adjust this to avoid overcarbonating. This method is indeed the fastest method of carbonating a keg.
Control is very important while carbonating in keg. If you are still a newbie, it’s better to start with a method that is easier for you to control. So you would end up with a really great tasting beer and not waste it in foam.