Keg Conditioning

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Myndflyte, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. Myndflyte

    Myndflyte Active Member

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    I'm going to finally keg my first beer next weekend and I'm still trying to wrap my head around conditioning. When I bottled, I'd let the bottles sit for at least a month before I began even touching them. I know this was to obviously carb it up but it usually got better as it conditioned.

    So does anyone condition beer when it's kegged? Or does it even need to be conditioned? I guess I don't quite understand why we leave some beer in bottles for 3 months to condition but something like that isn't necessary for kegging.
     
  2. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    I'm still fairly new to kegging, but I'd still say that the beer does get better with a little age in a keg

    I seem to recall a few other threads about keg conditioning here too
     
  3. Myndflyte

    Myndflyte Active Member

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    Is it beneficial to flush the headspace with CO2 and clear out the oxygen and let it sit warm for a month or so before cooling it down and carbing it?
     
  4. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    If you're strictly talking carbonation, then yes it does take time for a keg to condition. Use less corn sugar than you do when bottling a batch, say 1/2 C instead of 3/4 C. It'll still take 3 weeks or so. When kegging, you have the option to force carb. If you hook up your serving pressure CO2 line and let it sit on a cold keg, it'll take a couple weeks for the CO2 to infuse into the beer. I force carb my kegs. After the keg has chilled, I'll hook up a 30 lb line of CO2 and shake the keg for about 4 minutes. The next day, it's drinkable by my standard (the only standard I care about).

    Your ending carbonation level is determined by two factors, beer temperature and CO2 line pressure. Look up a chart on force carbing for more info.
     
  5. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    I flush out the head space when kegging, and force carb the next day. If you're using priming sugar, yes, the keg will need to sit warm for 3-4 weeks.
     
  6. Myndflyte

    Myndflyte Active Member

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    I'm going to be force carbing. But I'm talking about how the flavor of a beer changes in the bottle the longer you let it sit. Like if I brew something heavier like a stout, I give it about 3 months in the bottle to let the flavor condition so it doesn't have that "green" flavor. But it seems like if you're kegging, you'd throw it in the keg, carb it up and drink it. Or do people condition for flavor in the keg as well?
     
  7. nflamedrash

    nflamedrash Member

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    From an older post: (you do not need to condition the keg but often times the beer will improve with age. This happened at both cold and warm temperatures so use what ever method works for you.)

    In mid-July(2013) I took a California Common beer from secondary to the Keg and pressurized(after purging the O2) the keg for 24 hours at 12PSI at 70 degrees F. Clearly the beer was not carbonated after 24 hours; I then stored the kegged beer in the basement at 68-71 degrees F until October 5th(2013). On October 5th I placed the kegged beer in the refrigerator at 36 degrees F and carbonated for 12 days at 11PSI. Served the California Common along with 4 other homebrews to 50 guests; all beers served were a hit but the California Common was the only keg to be kicked.

    So my conclusion is: the warmer than normal storage did no harm to the beer. Understandably it is not the most preferred method of storage but in a pinch I would do it again without hesitation. The basic sanitation rules apply as always.
     
  8. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    I condition my kegs for at minimum 2-3... days.
     
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  9. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    I've noticed some of my beers changing profoundly after I first tap them. But if you think about it, they are lagering in the keezer while they're on tap.
     
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  10. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Most often beer is cold-crashed in the carboy (or bucket) before kegging. It doesn't have to be but it really clears the yeast so that the there's less yeast sediment settling to the bottom of the keg. Whether you cold crash or not, you can force carb and let it sit at room temp for a while.
    Definitely purge your keg...pressurize to 10 lbs or more and purge. Do that a couple of times and let it sit under pressure for a few minutes while you get everything set up to transfer.
    When you're ready to transfer, set the keg in place, release the pressure and pop the top. Inside the keg will be all filled with smokey mist. Proceed to siphon and keep your racking cane off the bottom so that you're getting clear beer with no yeast. I use a spring clamp on the racking cane to hold it at a certain level. I always prop up one edge of my carboy and direct the siphon to the lower edge. As it gets toward the bottom, I'll lower the siphon until it almost touches the yeast cake/trub.
    When your keg is full, replace the lid, put on a little pressure and then purge it to make sure there's no oxygen. Then you can pressure it up as you see fit.
    I tend to use high pressure (30-40 lbs) overnight and then adjust over the next day or two as needed. If it's cold and you leave it on the CO2 hookup overnight at 40 lbs, you can purge, reduce pressure and serve the next day. If you plan to let it condition at room temp for a week or two - and that's a fine option - leave it on the hookup at 20lbs or so and it'll be carbing as it's conditioning.
    Cold conditioning is important too because it helps the beer get really good and clear. Most beers will probably benefit from a week or maybe two of room temp (it totally depends on length of secondary/bulk aging) followed by a week or more of cold conditioning (lagering). IPAs, Porters, etc need less and clean Lagers, etc need more..up to a couple of months of cold.
    Here's a carb chart that's very useful:
    http://www.kegerators.com/carbonation-table.php
     
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  11. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Yep I find my lagers like a couple of weeks opinion the fridge. Ales a week in the fridge and I think their good to go the flavours definitely do change as you drink through the keg over the weeks.
     
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  12. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    For the record, I don't blow CO2 into my empty keg. My ales never get cold until they are in the keg. I only say this because I want to point out those are not necessary stesp. But then much of what we all do may not be necessary. I'm not saying there'd be no benefit, especially regarding cold crashing. It's just not worth the process to me. I'm not so sure there's a huge benefit to filling an empty keg with CO2 prior to racking. As long as you keep a quiet siphon going, the beer will push the air out as the keg fills. I don't see a lot of air getting dissolved into the beer. I see that operation as a waste of CO2.
     
  13. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    I agree that the cold crash isn't always necessary, but I'd argue that purging with CO2 wherever possible will make better beer. There's simply no better way to avoid the likelihood of oxydized beer. It's easy, quick and really doesn't use that much CO2. And CO2 is probably the cheapest thing we put into a keg of beer - something on the order of a couple of bucks for 5 gallons. I blow some CO2 into carboys when racking to secondary and do the same when racking to a bottling bucket. All it takes is a layer at the bottom (yes, along with quiet, clean transfer) to insure that the beer only comes in contact with CO2 as it enters the vessel.
     
  14. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    You say tomato, I say tomato. (That doesn't really work in written form!) I wonder what percentage of homebrewers bottle instead of keg? I'd guess that <1% of bottlers even have CO2. In other words, I'd say the vast majority of homebrewers don't fill vessels with CO2. All I'm saying is that it is not a necessary practice. Still, I'd gladly drink your beer.
     
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  15. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    To tie in with this thread "keg conditioning" I thought I might pose this question how many condition their beer warm in kegs before a spot becomes available in kegerator/keezer. I've come across a few extra kegs lately and been thinking what others thoughts on this are?
     
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  16. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    If I came across extra kegs, I would condition outside the keezer for sure. Throw 1/2 C corn sugar in and let it sit about 3 weeks next to the keezer. That's a good idea, I think, for those who can only serve from one or two kegs.
     
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  17. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    You wouldn't have to prime them to let them sit out. Use a CO2 chart to find the proper pressure for your room temp and desired volumes and hold them at that pressure. I've had times when I had to take kegs out of my cold storage and let them sit at room temp for a while. If there's no further fermentation going on and no wild yeast/Brett/infection that can restart, you should be able to store quite a long time. I think they'd be better at cooler room temps...my garage is 90+ degrees in the summer and I wouldn't leave them in that environment.
     
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  18. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    I tend to chill and carbonate my kegs as I fill them, then I can leave them out as necessary. I stored one for 4 months and it was fine when I tied it back in. I haven't tried carbonating at room temperature but worst case scenario I imagine would be you don't get great saturation. As long as you purge the O2 from it you shouldn't have any additional risks.
     
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  19. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

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    #19 Mase, Sep 12, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
    You would get CO2 saturation, but it will take a lot longer in warm beer then cold beer.

    As mentioned before, there are several options for conditioning. I too place a blanket of Co2 on our kegs prior to racking from secondary (I always use a secondary, and that too is highly debatable). I don't put the lid on, I just connect the Co2 line to the keg and run 10 psi for 5 seconds +/-, then rack to the keg with the fill tube from the secondary placed underneath the Co2 layer at the bottom of the keg.

    Semi related... We had a Nugget Nectar clone about 2/3 kicked when I needed room for a cold crash of a beer finishing up its seconday. We pulled the keg and set it beside the keezer (68 degrees F). a couple days later, we returned the keg back to the Keezer and let the beer chill again, but the flavor was way off. That might be from disturbed sediments at the bottom of the keg, but the flavor did change...drastically.
     
  20. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Brulosophys latest oxidation EXBEERIMENT couldn't come at a better time for this thread topic. He brewed a NEIPA one he kegged as per usual no co2 purging and the other he made all,necessary steps to reduce oxygen uptake in head space in fermentor and keg.

    Did the exbeerment reach significant results? you'll have to go see....:rolleyes:
     
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