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Carbonating in the keg

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HeavensBrew

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I'm getting closer to ordering some 5l kegs with a dispensing system, but my research has raised other questions....

I had understood that you get a better beer when it is is carbonated with CO2 rather than with sugar in the bottle. However, it seems that some people add sugar to the keg to reduce the amount of CO2 required for dispensing beer. At face value, that seems like choosing to save money on CO2 cartridges vs beer quality, but what is the real situation?

Is beer better from the keg rather than the bottle? Is beer better when carbonated with CO2 rather than secondary fermentation? Does a mixed system make any difference (less sugars in the keg)?
 

honeymonster

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I've got 2 of the 10L stainless mini kegs, similar to the ones from Dark Farm, and the mini regulator that takes a soda stream bottle and I can honestly say, they're brilliant.

I force carb in the keg, no sugar needed. When I do eventually upgrade and get a full size gas bottle I can get an adaptor that means I'll be able to fill the sodastream bottle myself and have a easily mobile keg system.

The smaller CO2 bulbs work out more expensive in the long run.
 

HeavensBrew

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Thanks Honeymonster. It seems that our required keg set up's are similar: I need something that fits in a fridge and that's portable. Phase 1 will be 2x 5l kegs, both with spears, using CO2 cartidges (cost more, but probably more practical with a short 5l keg).
Phase 2 (barbeque set-up) will be keeping the kegs in a cool box, sodastream gas bottle and the tap on a hose. I might order phase 2 straignt away if I can get a decent package.

However, my question today is more about why and why wouldn't a person prime their keg? Does beer taste better force carbonated or is that a popular myth?

I ask this question as it's away to reduce the usage of CO2 cartidges, as well as general curiosity.
 

terrym

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I had understood that you get a better beer when it is is carbonated with CO2 rather than with sugar in the bottle. However, it seems that some people add sugar to the keg to reduce the amount of CO2 required for dispensing beer. At face value, that seems like choosing to save money on CO2 cartridges vs beer quality, but what is the real situation?

Is beer better from the keg rather than the bottle? Is beer better when carbonated with CO2 rather than secondary fermentation? Does a mixed system make any difference (less sugars in the keg)?
If you use cane sugar or dextrose as priming sugar they ferment out completely to a little alcohol and CO2 which then carbonates the beer. So if you ignore the 0.2% alcohol or thereabouts which you produce from priming sugar there is no difference between CO2 from priming sugar or CO2 from a bulb or cylinder. What is different however, is that with a corny type system or similar you have the ability to vary carbing up your beer as you see fit, which is obviously not possible with priming sugar because once you have committed that's it.
 

HeavensBrew

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Thanks terrym. Now I understand.

As a bonus question - Any thoughts on whether Nitro improves a stout or just makes it look prettier?
 

peebee

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... I had understood that you get a better beer when it is is carbonated with CO2 rather than with sugar ...
Certainly a matter for personal preference. Natural carbonation has its flavour benefits, others see it as an inconvenience.

I'm firmly on the "flavour benefits" side. Natural carbonation is for beer. Forced carbonation is for pop.

:tinhat:
 

Session

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Thanks Honeymonster. It seems that our required keg set up's are similar: I need something that fits in a fridge and that's portable. Phase 1 will be 2x 5l kegs, both with spears, using CO2 cartidges (cost more, but probably more practical with a short 5l keg).
Phase 2 (barbeque set-up) will be keeping the kegs in a cool box, sodastream gas bottle and the tap on a hose. I might order phase 2 straignt away if I can get a decent package.

However, my question today is more about why and why wouldn't a person prime their keg? Does beer taste better force carbonated or is that a popular myth?

I ask this question as it's away to reduce the usage of CO2 cartidges, as well as general curiosity.
Hi HB,
I spund my beer, which means putting an adjustable pressure release valve on after the first day or two of fermentation and allowing the CO2 produced by fermentation to naturally carbonate the beer (and also purge my serving kegs).

The reasons I do this rather than force carbonate are:

• I like the idea of not adding anything to my beer
• It carbonates your beer for free!
• It saves CO2
• It purges my kegs at the same time
• It keeps more aroma in the beer from dry hopping

Other than having to buy a spunding valve for £11 or so I don’t see any downsides.
 
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I'm getting closer to ordering some 5l kegs with a dispensing system, but my research has raised other questions....

I had understood that you get a better beer when it is is carbonated with CO2 rather than with sugar in the bottle. However, it seems that some people add sugar to the keg to reduce the amount of CO2 required for dispensing beer. At face value, that seems like choosing to save money on CO2 cartridges vs beer quality, but what is the real situation?

Is beer better from the keg rather than the bottle? Is beer better when carbonated with CO2 rather than secondary fermentation? Does a mixed system make any difference (less sugars in the keg)?
Hello. Firstly, beer from the bottle is fantastic. The small amount of sugar used for priming, doesn’t really change the flavour of the beer, unless you get crafty with honey or molasses. I am not sure what you have read on the subject, however I am sure that most would agree, that there are advantages to both Kegs and bottles. Both have rewarding results.
Secondly, depending on your keg set up, I think it is fairly standard practice to prime a keg with sugar. (Again this has little effect on the overall flavour of the brew.) priming is often used if you have an inexpensive plastic keg with a basic co2 injection lid. If you have a corny keg, or similar, then I think it is easier to get away with force priming. Either way, the results are fairly similar.
in conclusion, You are unlikely to effect the quality of the brew by using priming sugar and bottling is great for squirrelling beer away for a later date. Remember, depending on the style of the beer, a long maturation can turn a great beer into the nectar of the gods.
😀🍺
 

crowcrow

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Hi HB,
I spund my beer, which means putting an adjustable pressure release valve on after the first day or two of fermentation and allowing the CO2 produced by fermentation to naturally carbonate the beer (and also purge my serving kegs).

The reasons I do this rather than force carbonate are:

• I like the idea of not adding anything to my beer
• It carbonates your beer for free!
• It saves CO2
• It purges my kegs at the same time
• It keeps more aroma in the beer from dry hopping

Other than having to buy a spunding valve for £11 or so I don’t see any downsides.
Where did you get your spunding value for £11? Cheers ;)
 

Session

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Where did you get your spunding value for £11? Cheers ;)
I got it from AliExpress. Here’s a link to the seller I used who were great. It got to me in about 3-4 weeks and was in original KegLand packaging. The £11 included postage IIRC

 

peebee

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I've got those "Blowtie" devices too. Yet to use as spunding valves, but great as wet relief valves for an over powered diaphragm pump.
 

Session

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There is a mk.II version which is neater as it includes an in-built gauge. I went for the older style as Kegland state the larger gauge is more reliable. From memory the in-built gauges in the mk.II model can be out by as much as 10% of the max psi - so a 5psi range on the 25psi gauge and a whopping 30psi range on the 150... not that I can think of many reasons to want a 150psi gauge...
 

peebee

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There is a mk.II version which is neater as it includes an in-built gauge. I went for the older style as Kegland state the larger gauge is more reliable. From memory the in-built gauges in the mk.II model can be out by as much as 10% of the max psi - so a 5psi range on the 25psi gauge and a whopping 30psi range on the 150... not that I can think of many reasons to want a 150psi gauge...
I think these devices were originally designed for Reverse Osmosis systems? Hence you get crazy pressures quoted for a "spunding valve". They also do "wet" regulators (they look identical, but are red!). I was looking at them as a restrictor for over-frothy beer (one of my "projects" waiting to be finished). If using them "wet" just be aware they act as automatically variable flow restrictors (hydraulics) not gas regulators (pneumatics). Regulators control the pressure, restrictors control the flow.
 

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