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I have a Cornelius system and I'm wanting to keg my home brew.

I'm curious if you need to prime the beer to help with carbonation or if you just add wort to keg and carbonate from co2?

If you do it this way, does anyone have any recommendations for how much pressure & for how long?

I did keg a five gal. keg last year and it got some carbonation but it didn't last very long. I had the beer for about 2 months and at the end it kept some carbonation sometimes but not for the whole time I was drinking it.

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Just to be a stickler for brewing vocabulary. If you fermented it and its in a keg its called beer. Wort is the stuff that comes out of your brew kettle before you add yeast. –  brewchez Nov 20 '10 at 12:02

2 Answers 2

With respect to brewchez - no, don't put priming sugar in your keg - it works against you and can throw the taste of your beer. Moreover if you have a good, sealed keg you won't lose C02 and in fact the pressure will help keep the beer carbonated to just the right atm.

What I do is condition my beer down to 45 degrees (an ale) and when I'm ready to keg it, I use a carbonation stone on the inlet: https://www.google.com/search?q=carbonation+stone

I got mine from MoreBeer.com and it works great.

The key here is that the beer is cold - that helps absorb the CO2. Pushing the CO2 in through the stone helps diffuse the CO2 which helps it go into solution quicker. You don't need to shake the keg (which is what most places tell you to do) - just let the CO2 pressurize to about 25-30 psi.

I let mine sit for a few hours and then bleed down to 12 psi or so - and it's ready to drink within a few hours. It won't be perfect, but it will be carbonated.

My kegs usually take 24 hours or so to come to the right amount - but be careful, make sure you set the valve to the right psi - if you leave it on and leave it up at 35 psi your beer will over-carbonate and you'll be sad.

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can you say more about why priming in a keg will throw the taste of the beer, compared to priming in bottles? –  mdma Feb 14 '12 at 23:41

Are you keeping it hooked up the whole time to the CO2? You will lose carbonation overtime as the carbonation in the beer will push the beer out of the keg when not hooked up to the tank.

You can prime your kegs with sugar like bottling to carbonate. Treating the keg like one big bottle, but most people hook up the beer to a tank with regulator and force carb. There are plenty of carbonating charts out there that show what PSI to set your regulator to to get a certain level of carbonation. THis is also temperature dependent. The lower the temp the easier it is for the beer to hold carb. Its not really recommended to bother trying kegging without some way to keep the beer cold.

With that background in place here is a good chart for beer carbonation.
From the chart if you wanted a normal level of carbonation and your beer was at 45F you would set your regulator to 15PSI. This would give you 2.5 volumes of CO2. The easiest way to carbonate is to hook it up at this level (make SURE there are no leaks) and leave it set like this AT TEMPERATURE for a week or more. The beer will eventually come to equilibrium with the applied CO2 temp and you'll be carbonated.

At that point you can hookup your beverage lines and start dispensing. BUt you have to leave it hooked up to the CO2 to keep the carbonation level constant the whole time you have the beer in the keg. Regardless of the first pint or last pint.

The last piece of info will be that you need to attach at least 6feet of standard beverage line to the faucet (out) end of the system. THis will help balance the system and prevent foaming. BUt that's for a diffent question!

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That is an amazing chart. Thanks for linking to it –  Alex.Bullard Nov 23 '10 at 2:19

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