Many can get the perfect fizz in their home brew by force carbonating your beer at home. Even as a beginner, this can be done with ease and minimal risk.
This is a simple way to force carbonate your beer with CO2 pressure.
What Is Force Carbonation?
To naturally create Carbon Dioxide (CO2), one usually has to feed the leftover yeast additional sugars. Force carbonating lets you directly infuse CO2 gas into the beer from a carbon cylinder.
Carbonating gives you more consistent results and faster brewing times.
When you force carbonate your beer, you can take the one to three weeks you would typically use for bottle-conditioning [R] and turn around your beer in 24 to 48 hours instead.
Regardless of the method you choose, all will require that you have some supplies at hand. These are:
- Cornelius Keg
- Carbon Dioxide
- Extra fitting for the keg to push CO2 through the drawtube
We recommend you use the homebrew type for the keg, which has ball lock-style liquid and gas posts. This one from Amazon is a good choice.
You can also get it all done quickly with the Bilchmann QuickCarb carbonator, which already includes a durable diffusion stone.
What is a Cornelius keg?
It is a stainless steel upright cylindrical tank with rubber gaskets made to hold pressurized liquid up to a maximum of 130 psi [R], making them safer than traditional kegs.
How Does the Corny Keg Work?
This tool has three main components: the lid, the gas-side post, and the draught-side post. The lid has a shallow lip to hold a gasket ring that seals the air and liquid in.
The gas-side post screws onto the keg and link the CO2 line through a gray connector. An o-ring is on the post, to which the dip tube makes contact with either the gas line disconnect or the keg itself.
As carbon flows in from the top of the keg, it helps build pressure to dispense the liquid flowing into the bottom of the dip tube out the top and through the liquid line.
In force carbonating, you will want to do the opposite.
In other words, you want to send CO2 directly through the dip tube to the bottom of the keg so that it will rise through the beer on top.
This increases the surface area between the CO2 bulbs and beer for better carbonation.
Keg Preparation for Both Methods
For both methods, you need to prepare your equipment.
Step 1: Install a ball lock conversion kit to your existing kegerator lines
By doing this step in the process, you can connect liquid and gas lines to your kegerators’ existing lines without having to sacrifice the ability to connect to a standard ball bearing style kegs.
Step 2: Prepare the Gas Line for Attachment
First, remove the gas socket from its line, then set it aside. Remove the black liquid socket from the liquid line and attach it to the gas line. This allows you to direct CO2 through the liquid post.
Step 3: Check for Proper Connection
Slowly turn on the cylinder to 5 psi and check for any leaks in the line, liquid post, or around the lid. You’ll know you’re on the right track if you hear some bubbling and the release of CO2 as it leaves the keg.
You can also spray some dish soap on the seals and connections while under pressure. If there are bubbles, tighten the connections.
As a note, make sure your beer is at a cold temperature before you begin any of the carbonation methods below.
Also, do not start carbonating beer right after transferring it to the keg. This will prevent diacetyl, a natural byproduct of the fermentation process and priming sugar, from absorbing into the yeast.
After this, the two methods will diverge.
The Two Ways to Carbonate Beer
There are two main ways to force carbonating a homebrew keg. The difference between them is the amount of time it would take to force carbonate the beer.
The first carbonation method uses lower carbonation levels and longer carbonation time.
Step 1: Increase Pressure
Then, adjust the regulator to raise the pressure to 20 psi. Check the chart linked below for the right pressure for your carbonated beer.
Step 2: Wait
Let the keg carbonate for 7 to 10 days, then check the carbonation levels.
One thing to remember is that before doing testing, you have to switch and reattach the two sockets to their proper Lins and lower the gas supply to serving pressure by adjusting the pressure release valve.
Method 2 (The Shake Method)
This second carbonation method is faster but involves more effort.
Step 1: Increase Pressure
First, you will need to attach the gas supply to the keg in the same way as in the first method. Once hooked up, turn the supply up to 30 psi (check the chart linked below).
Step 2: SHAKE AND ROLL!!
You will then gently shake the keg to stir up the beer inside or vigorously roll it. If done right, you should immediately hear bubbling inside the keg.
If You Gently Shake
You will need to keep shaking for about 20 to 30 minutes. Keep shaking the keg for 20 to 30 minutes, lower the pressure relief valve to 20 psi, and allow the keg to carbonate for 2 to 3 days.
If You Vigorously Roll
Vigorously roll it for about 4 minutes, only stopping to listen and check how fast the bubbles stop flowing. The quicker you hear the bubbles, the further you are into the carbonation process.
The more you agitate the keg, the more contact area there will be between the CO2 and beer, promoting faster carbonating diffusion into the liquid.
After this period, all you need to do is check the carbonation levels and enjoy your brew!
As a tip, put a towel on your lap because your homebrew will be pretty cold at this point.
We’re personally a fan of vigorous rolling, as it lets you quickly infuse pressure and watch over your brew while also making sure it reaches the right pressure according to the temperature and target CO2 levels of your beer.
Plus, it’s just more fun and it’s a great workout!
Proper Pressure and Temperature
We mentioned some psi levels that can guide you as you try to force carbonate your beer. However, these are not fixed, so check a keg carbonation chart to be sure.
The temperature will play a massive part in how to achieve the right CO2 volumes. The lower the temperatures, the faster the CO2 dissolves into the beer. So, you will need less pressure to carbonate to the desired volume.
It will also depend on the type of beer you are making, so check the keg carbonation chart and the desired CO2 level you are targeting.
For example, wheat beers will require a target CO2 level of 2 3 to 4.5, which requires you to adjust the carbonation level.
Here is a force carbonation chart for further guidance. [R]
Try It Out!
Now that you know how to get the best beer, why not give it a shot? You can now create a beer that suits your tastes to the tee, and enjoy a freshly-made drink at that ice-cold temperature.
This will certainly taste better after all that work. We hope this guide helped you get started on Homebrewing 🙂