Naturally Carbonating in Keg

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Soviet

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Fellow Brewers:

I've always force-carbonated the beer in my corny kegs. Since I'm such an impatient brewer, and I always want to have beer ready to swap into my 1 (lonely) tap kegerator, would it be a good idea for me to start kegging my pipeline of beer and adding corn sugar to my finished beer (as opposed to just letting it sit in carboys till ready)? Folks that do this—I have some questions for you:

1. Have you noticed any difference in clarity of the beer or flavor— another words, is dissolved CO2 just dissolved CO2?

2. How much corn sugar or table beet sugar do you usually add to the kegged beer if you want to carbonate to say, your average 2.5 volumes vs. 1.5 vs. 4.0 volumes for a belgian?

3. Is any target CO2 volume that cannot be achieved using natural carbonation from yeast eating simple sugar?

4. How long does it take to naturally carbonate a beer inside a 5gal corny keg? I think the last time I tried this it seemed to take forever.

5. Do you get excess sludge in the bottom of the keg when you do this method?

6. What about fining with gelatin? If you do the above method, at what point do you clarify/fine your beer with gelatin or otherwise?

Thanks in advance for your answers!

-Soviet
 

Yooper

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Fellow Brewers:

I've always force-carbonated the beer in my corny kegs. Since I'm such an impatient brewer, and I always want to have beer ready to swap into my 1 (lonely) tap kegerator, would it be a good idea for me to start kegging my pipeline of beer and adding corn sugar to my finished beer (as opposed to just letting it sit in carboys till ready)? Folks that do this—I have some questions for you:

1. Have you noticed any difference in clarity of the beer or flavor— another words, is dissolved CO2 just dissolved CO2?

2. How much corn sugar or table beet sugar do you usually add to the kegged beer if you want to carbonate to say, your average 2.5 volumes vs. 1.5 vs. 4.0 volumes for a belgian?

3. Is any target CO2 volume that cannot be achieved using natural carbonation from yeast eating simple sugar?

4. How long does it take to naturally carbonate a beer inside a 5gal corny keg? I think the last time I tried this it seemed to take forever.

5. Do you get excess sludge in the bottom of the keg when you do this method?

6. What about fining with gelatin? If you do the above method, at what point do you clarify/fine your beer with gelatin or otherwise?

Thanks in advance for your answers!

-Soviet

1. No difference
2. I use 1/2 the amount I normally would if I was bottling. So, for most of my American style beers like IPA or APA, I use 2 to 2.5 ounces of corn sugar in 5 gallons of beer in a 5 gallon keg.
3. No.
4. About 2 weeks at room temperature, but maybe longer when it's colder. I did it at 68-70 degrees but not when it was colder than that.
5. No. Not really any more than when you force carb, or at least not noticeably more anyway.
6. Don't know- I won't ever use gelatin or other finings.
 

Yooper

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Yooper, why don't you/won't you use finings?

I do use whirlfloc in the kettle, if I remember, but I won't use isinglass or gelatin or the like.

It's mostly because I don't want to have to inquire if someone is a vegetarian before offering them a beer- beer would seem to be vegetarian friendly normally, I'd think. But also because it's simply not needed. My beer is super clear without finings, because of techniques in the kettle and fermenter. It's just not needed. I also don't filter, as I've never needed to.
 

copyright1997

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I'd love to get others' input as well.

The only thing I would add to Yooper's post is that I sometimes do this when I want to have some of the batch in the keg and some in bottles. So I:
1. Have the keg sanitized.
2. Get the sterilized sugar solution ready. Since I am going to also bottle, I use the normal to-be-bottled sugar amount.
3. Add the sterilized sugar solution to the empty keg.
4. Rack from the source (primary or secondary or keg - I usually secondary/condition in a keg) into the target keg on top of the sugar solution. This will mix it up nicely.
5. When racking is complete, close the keg, add co2/vent/add co2/vent. Add enough co2 to be able to push beer from the keg to a picnic tap and into your bottling tube.
6. Fill as many bottles as you want. I typically turn the co2 off and then on when pressure gets too low to flow. This way the flow into the bottles is slow.
7. When done with the bottles, add enough co2 to ensure the keg has a good seal. Set it aside at the same place where you are letting your bottles carbonate.

What's nice about this is you can also vent pressure from your keg if you feel it is carbonating at too high of a pressure. One way to tell is using something like this: http://www.williamsbrewing.com/KEG-PRESSURE-TESTER-P715C237.aspx

Note that the above technique isn't the only way to do this. I also sometimes just carbonate the keg with co2 and then fill bottles as needed from the carbonated keg using this technique: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f35/we-no-need-no-stinking-beer-gun-24678/. While this works fine, it seems to me to be more work (at least so far in my experience).

What I do depends on whether I want yeast in the bottles/keg and a bunch of other factors, the biggest being my laziness at the moment. (It is SO easy just to carbonate in the keg with co2.)

After you get the keg carbonated, you then can chill it/cold crash it and most of the yeast from the carbonation will fall and you get it out of the keg in the first few glasses you take from the keg.

Hope this helps.
 

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Yoop, why do you use half the amount of priming sugar in the keg? wouldn't you wind up undercarbonated, or does the addition of co2 make up the difference in carbonation?
 

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Yoop, why do you use half the amount of priming sugar in the keg? wouldn't you wind up undercarbonated, or does the addition of co2 make up the difference in carbonation?

Neither!

It has to do with the amount of headspace, actually. In a keg, there is quite a bit of headspace. But not as much that there is in 53 separate bottles!

Because of this, the relative lower amount of headspace in a keg compared to the same volume in separate bottles, you only need 1/2 of the priming sugar that you would in bottles.

I'm no scientist, but it works!
 

mikeysab

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is there a chart for volumes when kegging? I have one for bottling, but never saw one for kegging......actually probably just wasn't paying attention, since I was never kegging before.
 
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Soviet

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Thanks for sharing, all. I just added ~2.0oz of table sugar to my Keg of Russian Imperial Stout. We'll have to crack it open in the late winter and see how it's faring.
 

SuperSynapse

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I've never understood the priming in the keg deal.

If you can't afford a system, why not just use the hand held charger or toss in a cube of dry ice?

Just seems like a whole bunch of mess and clean up for nothing.
 

copyright1997

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I've never understood the priming in the keg deal.

If you can't afford a system, why not just use the hand held charger or toss in a cube of dry ice?

Just seems like a whole bunch of mess and clean up for nothing.

See my previous post for a reason.

What mess? What Clean-up? The only work is to make a small sauce pan of the sterilized sugar/water solution which you dump into the keg before you rack the beer there. This is a heck of a lot less work and cleanup that either bottling now or bottling later after the keg is carbonated.
 

beaksnbeer

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I do use whirlfloc in the kettle, if I remember, but I won't use isinglass or gelatin or the like.

It's mostly because I don't want to have to inquire if someone is a vegetarian before offering them a beer- beer would seem to be vegetarian friendly normally, I'd think. But also because it's simply not needed. My beer is super clear without finings, because of techniques in the kettle and fermenter. It's just not needed. I also don't filter, as I've never needed to.

+1 Brewing technique eliminates most clearing problems. I only prime in the kegs, high gravity beers that need longer sitting times.
 

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I've never understood the priming in the keg deal.

If you can't afford a system, why not just use the hand held charger or toss in a cube of dry ice?

Just seems like a whole bunch of mess and clean up for nothing.

Wellllllllllllll, you'd need like about 40 hand held chargers to carb up the keg. That's one reason. And then dry ice? Seriously?

2 ounces of sugar in a keg vs dry ice (how much? where do you buy it? how do you store it? what if it's too much? what if it's not enough?)? Obviously, you don't have any experience in doing this.

When you bottle, you add some priming solution and bottle. When you keg, you can do the same. What's the difference? Well, nothing. It's the same thing, and it doesn't involve any work, mess, clean up, high pressure, hard-to-get ingredients, etc. It's easy, cheap, quick, and the beer tastes great.
 

bikesandbrews

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I do use whirlfloc in the kettle, if I remember, but I won't use isinglass or gelatin or the like.

It's mostly because I don't want to have to inquire if someone is a vegetarian before offering them a beer- beer would seem to be vegetarian friendly normally, I'd think. But also because it's simply not needed. My beer is super clear without finings, because of techniques in the kettle and fermenter. It's just not needed. I also don't filter, as I've never needed to.

i really appreciate this response, I'm a vegan brewer and got into it for this exact reason. I don't trust many beers anymore.
 

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If I naturally carbonate in the corny keg, and my beer will all be consumed in a day (not a severe alcoholic but I'm going to start brewing for my shop which is about 18-30 guys on most nights) could I just get a pump tap and save myself all the co2 costs? I'll get CO2 eventually but I found a cheap keg on craiglist and I want to be up and running in a month.
 

kdog93

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Sorry to bring back an old thread, but if I naturally carbonate in a corny keg, does carbonation decrease in the fridge just like when I carbonate in bottles?
The reason I'm asking is because I was told by the manager of my local brew shop that the bottles start to lose carbonation once they get cold enough.
Is this loss due to the actual cold, or is it merely time doing the trick after the low temp stops the process?
Also, does naturalcarbonation in a keg count as a secondary and/or conditioning just like when it's done in bottles?
 

slymaster

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It doesn't "lose" carbonation. In fact there is less pressure as CO2 contracts at low temperature. Bring it back at room temp and the high pressure comes back.

Yes, it's like conditionning in a bottle. The difference is that there is a smaller headspace for gas in your keg compared to a bottle. That's why you need less priming sugar. Generally, people use 50-60% of the sugar they would use when bottling.
 

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It doesn't "lose" carbonation. In fact there is less pressure as CO2 contracts at low temperature. Bring it back at room temp and the high pressure comes back.

im going to just keep the corny keg (when i finally get one) in a spare full sized fridge i keep outside when its done conditioning, so should i try and over carb it a little?
 

slymaster

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It would be the same as over-carbing your bottles: you don't do that. There are a few good threads about natural carbonation in a keg on this forum. Most guys use 1/2 the sugar they would use for bottling, let the beer sit at room temp long enough, then chill and serve.
 
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Sorry to bring back an old thread, but if I naturally carbonate in a corny keg, does carbonation decrease in the fridge just like when I carbonate in bottles?

The reason I'm asking is because I was told by the manager of my local brew shop that the bottles start to lose carbonation once they get cold enough.

Is this loss due to the actual cold, or is it merely time doing the trick after the low temp stops the process?

Also, does naturalcarbonation in a keg count as a secondary and/or conditioning just like when it's done in bottles?


The beer or any carbonated beverage doesn't lose carbonation when chilled. Actually the CO2 is more soluble at colder temps. Remember the solubility of a gas is inversely proportional to the temperature. So, when you chill your beer in a bottle or keg the CO2 is "absorbed", ie, dissolves into the beer.
I keg condition all my beers @ room temp. Usually for ten days to two weeks. Depends on room in my kegerator. I then hook it up to the gas at serving pressure and chill for 24-48 hours before serving.


Sent from my iPhone using Home Brew
 

kdog93

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probably a dumb question, but when im naturally carbing in a keg am i supposed to leave a head space at all?
also, what are the dimensions of a 5 gallon corny keg? jw if i can fit one in my mini fridge.
 

judsonp

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probably a dumb question, but when im naturally carbing in a keg am i supposed to leave a head space at all?
also, what are the dimensions of a 5 gallon corny keg? jw if i can fit one in my mini fridge.

You can look up the dimensions of pin-lock and ball-lock corny kegs online (lots of beer fridge sellers will post them, for example). Just remember that the two styles don't have the same dimensions. (Also, converted ball-locks, which are pin-locks with the posts replaced, naturally have the dimensions of a pin-lock.)
 

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If you carb "naturally" in the keg, using sugar, you will have "some" CO2 pressure to move a "few" beers.

You will need CO2 and a regulator to push your beer to serve.

You can rig up a hand pump to push your beer, but only if you plan on finishing the keg at one "event" or evening or whatever.

Hand pumping it will contribute to, and accelerate oxidation of your beer.
 

kdog93

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ok so far its looking like im too broke for a keg and everything that comes with it. i stumbled across the party pig & TAD systems and did a little reading, its looking like theyre both suitable for what im trying to do (when i was considering buying a corny i was stuck between a 2.5 gal and 22" 5 gal to put in my fridge).
i know theres already a couple threads on here i was reading them and other reviews around the web and i believe im going to invest in a tap a draft. if anybody is a die hard enemy of TAD please convince me not to buy it now before i waste the money haha. i know about the potential leakage during priming and am willing to get teflon tape for it.
 

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I know there's probably a thread that covers this but I need help a.s.a.p.
I've kegged my first beer in a corny today and there is an air leakage in the lid I've changed the rubber seals and it's still leaking does anybody know a quick fix for this as I don't have time to go and bottle it now.

Thanks for your help
 

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I know there's probably a thread that covers this but I need help a.s.a.p.
I've kegged my first beer in a corny today and there is an air leakage in the lid I've changed the rubber seals and it's still leaking does anybody know a quick fix for this as I don't have time to go and bottle it now.

Thanks for your help

I have a couple of kegs like that. They don't seal on their own, even with new seals and keg lube.

If that is the case with yours, turn up your regulator to 30 psi and give the keg a big blast of c02. That usually would do the trick quickly and easily.
 

newbee17

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I've just finished setting up my tap with undercounter cooler bt all I'm getting is suds what am I doing wrong??
 

newbee17

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I just finished setting up my tap with an undercounter cooler but all I can get is suds what did I do wrong anybody know?
 

mbbransc

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Neither!

It has to do with the amount of headspace, actually. In a keg, there is quite a bit of headspace. But not as much that there is in 53 separate bottles!

Because of this, the relative lower amount of headspace in a keg compared to the same volume in separate bottles, you only need 1/2 of the priming sugar that you would in bottles.

I'm no scientist, but it works!


What if I wanted to bottle 1/2 my batch? I think I like the idea of adding sugar, rack beer to keg, purge oxygen. Then with low pressure, fill a case of bottles to let carb there. Should I add sugar at regular bottling rates? Then when I'm ready to drink the keg, just check the pressure and see if I need to lower it to appropriate levels?

Interesting ideas learned on this board every day. Thx all.
 

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What if I wanted to bottle 1/2 my batch? I think I like the idea of adding sugar, rack beer to keg, purge oxygen. Then with low pressure, fill a case of bottles to let carb there. Should I add sugar at regular bottling rates? Then when I'm ready to drink the keg, just check the pressure and see if I need to lower it to appropriate levels?

Interesting ideas learned on this board every day. Thx all.

With the headspace in the keg, only filling it halfway would mess up the carbing. I'm not sure how to get around that, except by force carbing the keg.
 
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