Best carbonation method

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by EvanAltman36, Jun 12, 2013.

  1. EvanAltman36

    EvanAltman36 New Member

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    Okay, I took the plunge on the kegging system because I got a good deal on the setup and on a used fridge. But now I'm really confused about the "best" method of carbonating my kegs. I use the term loosely because there seems to be no standard method. I know that CO2 dissolves better in cold beer, that seems to be a given. I'm thinking that cooling my beer prior to racking to keg would be good too, gets some extra stuff out of suspension. Then I would rack to keg and I could either do a fast forced carb or a slower "set-and-forget" method. Obviously, the advantage to putting under heavier pressure would be quicker access to beer, but would the slower method be better or have advantages?
     
  2. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Administrator

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    I have one regulator, and all my kegs are supplied with gas off that. The tank and regulator are externally mounted to my keezer. I set it at 9.5psi. I don't mess with it, or try to jack up the pressure for a couple days and then lower it. Takes about 2 weeks to get fully carbed. This is the lazy way to go, so in that sense it is the best, but not the fastest. Some ales, and especially lagers, need more than 2 weeks to finish cleaning themselves up anyway. If you force carb, the beer might be carbonated sooner, but it might also be green. Flitering and force carbing is equivalent to what most pro breweries do, and that does shave time off the process but with added time and materials.

    Cold crashing is a different issue, mainly to get clearer less yeasty beer in a shorter amount of time. I am a fan of cold crashing.
     
  3. EvanAltman36

    EvanAltman36 New Member

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    I'm lazy and enjoy skipping unnecessary steps whenever I can. I also want to get good results and I feel like doing a 2-week carbonation process would be easier and would also eliminate the possibility of severely over-carbing the beer. I will probably cold crash my beer in carboy prior to kegging. Then I will rack to keg, force out the O2, and keep hooked up to CO2 at around 10psi for 2 weeks. Does that sound about right?

    Also, Larry, you say that you have your CO2 mounted externally. In order to do that, would I just need to drill through the side of the fridge and be sure to seal it properly? Or is it okay to keep the CO2 tank inside the fridge (I'll be using a full-size refrigerator)? Finally, should I filter? I opted not to purchase a filter but I see that they are available for around $60 to go from keg to keg and stepping down from one level of filter to another, denser one. Is that necessary, or is there a simple lazy-man technique?
     
  4. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Administrator

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    Perfect.

    I have a collar mounted to my keezer. Drilling through the fridge gets dicey - you don't want to hit something important like a wire or condenser line.

    Yes you can keep everything in the fridge. I think in that case the gauge will read lower than at room temp though. I moved my tank and regulator out so I could free up precious room for an additional keg.

    Do not opt for a configuration where the tank is on its side, make sure the tank is upright.

    Filtering - up to you. I'm totally fine with a little haze in my home brew now and then. Filtering also requires adjustments to the recipe, since flavor is lost in the process.
     
  5. EvanAltman36

    EvanAltman36 New Member

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    Could you post a picture of your setup?
     
  6. cearum

    cearum New Member

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    I cold crash my beer in a separate fridge and then I'll rack into my kegs. If I want to drink it sooner than later I'll hook up a CO2 line and rock it, roll it, splash around the beer and CO2 (keeping in mind that the O2 has been purged). The pressure is set to what I'll be serving at. It has less of a chance to over carbonate and it takes only about 20 minutes. While rocking it you will hear the CO2 pushing and once it gets close to where it needs to be it'll slow down in the sound department; so keep going for another 5-10 minutes after that. Since it's set at the pressure you need for serving (assuming the same temperature as well) it shouldn't over carbonate. Since most of my beers sit for 3-4 weeks in carboy, as I finish my other kegs, green beer usually isn't an issue.

    This describes most of what I said, but probably a lot better.

    http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f35/keg-force-carbing-methods-illustrated-73328/
     
  7. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Administrator

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    Here are some snaps of my keezer:
     

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  8. EvanAltman36

    EvanAltman36 New Member

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    Wow, Larry, nice setup. You had said in a post earlier that it can be dicey to drill through the side of a fridge, so how did you determine where to go with yours? I guess it's a keezer though, so are freezers different in terms of their makeup?

    I've been doing some research about drilling through the side of the fridge and think I can do it relatively easily. However, I'm realizing that since I went with a system that has a double dual regulator, I've got 2 separate gas lines coming off the CO2 tank, which would mean drilling 2 holes in the side of the fridge. I mean, I could do it, but with only 2 kegs for now, I'm wondering whether it's worth it. In the future, if I expand, I could go with a gas manifold and run one of my 2 lines in to connect to it. and move the tank outside.
     
  9. cearum

    cearum New Member

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    On the top of his keezer there is a wooden collar. It looks like just drilled through the wood so that he wouldn't have to worry about drilling through any critical cooling lines. The same goes for drilling the shanks for the faucets. I also have a keezer with a wooden collar, though my tank is inside on a compressor shelf.
     
  10. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Administrator

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    Exactly, the collar allows you to drill holes worry free. Drilling holes through the appliance voids the warranty!

    I wouldn't over-complicate the project at this point. Two kegs and a CO2 tank should fit just fine in a fridge - problem solved.

    Later on, look at getting a keezer that can hold 5-10 kegs. Then worry about routing all the gas lines and going nuts like I did. The one thing about the keezer collar is, it is a bear to lift the full kegs into place. I have a hoist system above the keezer for this purpose and it works awesome. Major back saver. A blog post is on the way about that.
     
  11. EvanAltman36

    EvanAltman36 New Member

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    Thanks again! I am getting the fridge for free, so there's no real concern in terms of all that. However, given the space it will occupy and the fact that I've got 2 young kids running around, I think the safest bet is indeed to house the tank in the fridge with the kegs. My goal is to upgrade with more kegs and a 4-way manifold eventually, and I can get the schematics on the fridge in order to safely drill through the sidewall for the CO2 hoses. Until that day comes, I'll stick with the easy route.
     
  12. recreation brewery

    recreation brewery New Member

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    If you are ever going to route your line through a sidewall of any kind, this is the way to go. It makes life SOOOOOO much easier. I can quickly disconnect this to purge air out of other kegs, or run off with my tank and reg setup if I want to take it somewhere. I honestly don't even remember how I did this, but I know it involves brass fittings that can be bought at any and all hardware stores. It wasn't complicated, more or less involved finding a brass fitting that would properly accept the IN post of a ball lock keg.
     

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