I hate waiting. My IPA and Oatmeal Stout have been beckoning me from the basement beer fridge for a little over a week now. I know I should let the IPA sit a little longer in conditioning. But screw it. I’m out of beer. It can continue aging in the keg. The stout will sit on standby while I slowly work my way through the 5 gallon corny. And that’s fine, because that one needs a little extra time with all the fermentable sugars in there. In fact, I saw a bubble escape from the airlock yesterday. So the non-flocculated yeast must still be slowly working away.

I think I’ve gotten better at carbonating my beers. I started off bottling everything, which is perfectly fine. And in the case of some styles, desired. It’s just that (consistent with the theme of this post) I got tired of waiting at least another week for bottle conditioning. So I invested in a Cornelius keg and CO2 regulator. More control over the carbonation levels, and less sanitizing. Best home brew purchase I ever made.

Here’s how I do it…first, I clean my keg with boiling hot water and rinse-free sanitizing powder, giving it a few good shakes to get the previous beer’s smell and residue out of there. Using the built-up steam pressure from the hot water, I reattach the picnic tap, and let it run out to clean the line. I’ll refill the keg with cold water to bring it back down to room temperature or lower, then sanitize my siphon and rack the beer into the corny.

Once the flat beer is in the keg, I pop the top back on and attach the CO2 hose. Crank the regulator up to about 25 psi for 10-15 seconds, and turn it off. Then burp the keg by depressing the release valve to get rid of any oxygen in the head space (don’t want to spoil the beer). Turn the regulator back up to 25 psi, and shake the hell out of it by turning the keg on its side and rolling back and forth. The more surface area, the more CO2 absorption. You can hear the gas entering the keg and mixing with the beer. After a couple minutes of that, I drop the CO2 down to about 10 psi, and put it in the fridge.

After a few hours, I’ll close the CO2 tank, depress the release valve again, and let most of the CO2 escape from the keg’s headspace. This is where you can begin adjusting your levels…I’ll pour a small glass of beer, and if it has the right carbonation, everything is good to go. If it’s still a little low, I’ll turn the tank back on and give it another few good shakes. Again, once I hear the dull hissing stop from the CO2 mixing with the beer, I put it back in the fridge and let it sit again. Repeat process until you get the head you’re looking for. I typically pour my beers between 6-8 psi (Belgians a little higher), and am considering drilling a hole in the door of the fridge to hook up a cool draught handle.

So the IPA should be ready to go very soon. Stay tuned for my first home brew review. Gotta come up with a cool name for it though…

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