Natural carbonation in keg questions

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rtstrider

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Hey all! I've searched up down and all around for answers on this topic. I have yet to get concrete information. I will be kegging for the first time this Friday. I have a 5lb co2 cylinder and will have 2 beers ready to go in the keg. One is a lager that is going to get gas only. It will use the set and forget method. The second beer is a blonde with Pacman. That's the beer I would like to naturally carbonate. The reason is I have nothing but time and a fridge full of bottles to go through. The fridge full of bottles will eventually be the fermentation fridge. That means no brewing until the other fridge is empty. So yes I have weeks to wait around lol With that said I'd like to take advantage of the time at hand and run a little experiment. That is to try set and forget in one keg and natural carb for giggles. These beers will both be for just me so I'm not worried about keeping "crud" out of the natural carbonation beer. With that said I've seen add 1/3 priming solution, 1/2 priming solution, and full dose priming solution to a 5 gallon keg. Also I've seen different mentions of adding co2 to the keg to seal and don't add co2 to the keg to seal prior to letting it naturally carb. The kegs will be fully refurbished (all new seals, poppets, fully cleaned/lubed) by me so I'm starting as new as I can. Is there anyone with first hand experience that has naturally carbed a keg?
 

Dland

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I do this all the time, except instead of adding priming sugar, I keg just before primary fermentation ends. In either case, it is advisable to give the keg a little hit of CO2 to assure lid has sealed into place.

Not sure if that answers your question.
 

firerat

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The few times I naturally carbed in the keg I used 1/2 the solution I would have if bottling. I ferment in my corny kegs so everything is a closed trnasfer. I'll add the solution to an empty keg, purge with co2, and close tranfer on top of the solution. That's it.

Worked like a charm.

DISCLAIMER: I've only naturally carbed in a keg maybe 1/2 dozen times so someone with more experience may give a bit better advice.
 
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rtstrider

rtstrider

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The way I'll be doing this is racking from the primary fermenter (fermentation has been complete for about a week or two now) to the keg. I was going to put in 4.25 gallons and 2.4 volumes co2 into the priming sugar calculator on the northern brewer beer priming calculator site. I figured this might undershoot it just a tad and give some breathing room/under carb a bit since this will be cold conditioning on gas, with gelatin and such, when it finally goes in the kegerator. Figured the gas can make up whatever carbonation is missing. Would that be a good idea or should I just try and shoot to get close to the right volume of co2 right out of the gate?
 

Dland

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If it ends up a little under carbed, just finish off w forced carbonation, normal operating procedure. If you over carb a bit, you can just lets some gas off, although this can take a bit.

The best way to learn is by doing, while making good beer.
 

firerat

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I don't think it's necessary to undershoot it, but it's not a bad approach until you get more comfortable in your process. It is easier to correct carbonation levels if you undershoot it rather than over shoot it.
 

william_shakes_beer

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er... I have never done natural carbonation. With a small headspace in the beginning and a large headspace towards the end, wouldn't you end up needing to add gas to push the last of the product out of the keg? My mind says once you chill the keg you're not adding any more co2 carbonation.
 
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rtstrider

rtstrider

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er... I have never done natural carbonation. With a small headspace in the beginning and a large headspace towards the end, wouldn't you end up needing to add gas to push the last of the product out of the keg? My mind says once you chill the keg you're not adding any more co2 carbonation.
Keg will be sitting at room temp for 4-6 weeks. It will be treated just like a large "bottle" as far as carbonation goes. That's the plan anywho
 

firerat

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er... I have never done natural carbonation. With a small headspace in the beginning and a large headspace towards the end, wouldn't you end up needing to add gas to push the last of the product out of the keg? My mind says once you chill the keg you're not adding any more co2 carbonation.
Well yeah to serve the beer you need gas to push it out. It still needs to be hooked to a CO2 system.
 

ZuzBrews

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I have always naturally carbonated all my kegged beers. I brew 6 gallon batches, bottle 3 gallons and keg 3 gallons. I prime the entire 6 gallons like I am going to bottle the whole thing. I purge the keg 3 or 4 times at 30 psi and seal the keg at the same pressure. I have never had a problem with the keg being over carbed. YMMV.
 

tld6008

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I have used 2/3c of corn sugar in the bottom of the keg. 5 gal of beer on top and seal/purge top space after closing. Shake once or twice and let sit at room temp for 2 weeks. Works fine just normally takes too long for me.
 
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rtstrider

rtstrider

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I have used 2/3c of corn sugar in the bottom of the keg. 5 gal of beer on top and seal/purge top space after closing. Shake once or twice and let sit at room temp for 2 weeks. Works fine just normally takes too long for me.
I don't like using corn sugar to carb beer. It has an off flavor and takes WAY too long. I use table sugar and that's significantly cleaner. It's cheaper to boot! Ran an experiment at the local brewery actually. Primed one batch with corn sugar and one batch with table sugar. Used the same priming sugar solution. Tried them both at 3 weeks and table sugar was done/clean. Corn sugar wasn't and had this off flavor. Took a good 6 weeks before it was even drinkable imo. Even then it still had this off sugar flavor is the best way to describe it. I ran another batch or two with corn sugar just to rule out any hiccups in my bottling techniques and got the same flavor. I did some digging and found out you need to use MORE corn sugar to get the same level of carbonation as table sugar. So that at least makes sense to me why we could taste more of one and none of the other
 

tld6008

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I have used both when I bottled beer and never could tell a difference. Never noticed a lag between the two either. I believe you will definitely be in the minority claiming table (cane) sugar imparts no off flavors.
 
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rtstrider

rtstrider

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I have used both when I bottled beer and never could tell a difference. Never noticed a lag between the two either. I believe you will definitely be in the minority claiming table (cane) sugar imparts no off flavors.
Maybe so! Maybe I'm hypersensitive to that flavor aspect like others are to Diacetyl and such?
 

Dland

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Once you get used to kegging and natural carbination, maybe try spunding. No added product to carbonate beer, just some timing.

I see in post #8 you plan on letting keg sit at room temp for a while. While room temp is good during carbonation, beer will benifit from being cold crashed and held after carbonation is done. This is even true for ales, and necessary for clean lagers of course.
 
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rtstrider

rtstrider

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I went ahead and used the full amount of table sugar in this batch. I think it was somewhere in the neighborhood of 111 grams boiled in the water for 10 minutes. I sealed the keg with 30 psi co2 and figure worst case if it's overcarbed in a few weeks it can be bled off. I'm going to give it 4-6 weeks then pop it in the kegerator and see what happens. I'll report back

Edit: Forgot to add I primed this to 2.6 volumes of co2 for a 4.5 gallon batch. the keg is full so that might work in my favor here since I undershot just a tad
 
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rtstrider

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Once you get used to kegging and natural carbination, maybe try spunding. No added product to carbonate beer, just some timing.

I see in post #8 you plan on letting keg sit at room temp for a while. While room temp is good during carbonation, beer will benifit from being cold crashed and held after carbonation is done. This is even true for ales, and necessary for clean lagers of course.

Oh yeah! That was the biggest decider in going to kegging. I ended up with a spare fridge for the bottles. It was immediately apparent on how large of a difference it makes to let the beers sit for a few weeks in there! This keg will be getting stored in the kegerator for a few days once it's carbed. I'm going to let the carbonation settle down into the beer (cold temps) then test it. If it's where I like it then it will be getting the gelatin treatment and sitting for a week or so before it's officially tapped
 
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