How to Carbonate Beer With CO2

Written by dr. samuel helms
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How to Carbonate Beer With CO2
With force carbonation, it is easier to get the exact amount of carbonation desired in the beer. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

When home brewing, there are generally two ways to carbonate beer. One method is called priming and involves adding sugar and/or yeast to the bottle or keg. The yeast will consume the sugar and produce carbon dioxide, thus carbonating the beer. The other method is "force carbonation" using pressurised carbon dioxide. With a given amount of carbon dioxide pressure in the beer vessel, the gas will dissolve in the beer and carbonate it. Force carbonation can be accomplished easily at home with small kegs and a bottle of compressed carbon dioxide.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • 5 gallons of beer
  • 5-gallon keg
  • 2.27kg. can of pressurised carbon dioxide gas
  • Air line tubing

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  1. 1

    Completely clean and sanitise the inside of the keg. This is a critical step and cannot be skipped. You can purchase sanitiser solutions at local home brewing stores or online from home brew suppliers.

  2. 2

    Add the 5 gallons of beer to the keg. Try not to splash the beer as this will mix oxygen into the beer and may alter flavours.

  3. 3

    Screw on the cap to the keg and attach an air tube from the exit valve on the carbon dioxide can to the intake on the keg.

  4. 4

    Turn on the carbon dioxide and let the pressure build in the keg for about one minute.

  5. 5

    Open the pressure relief valve on the keg to purge any oxygen. Oxygen can alter the flavour of beer so you want as much of it out of the keg as possible.

  6. 6

    Set the pressure of the carbon dioxide canister to the desired pressure. How much pressure you will need depends on the temperature of the beer and how much carbonation you want, which is measured in volumes. A good amount of carbonation for most beer is 2.5 volumes. If you carbonate the beer in a refrigerator set to 4.44 degrees C, which is preferable to room temperature, you will need 11 to 12 psi.

  7. 7

    Leaving the carbon dioxide pressure on, let the keg sit for three days. The carbon dioxide will dissolve into the beer.

  8. 8

    Close the valve on the keg and turn off the carbon dioxide pressure from the canister. After this you can disconnect the air line. The beer is now carbonated.

Tips and warnings

  • Since kegs are pressurised after carbonation, keep them in a cool place.
  • You can usually find refillable carbon dioxide canisters at your local home brewing store.

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