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Just moved to a new house and finally have room for a chest freezer so I can switch from bottling to kegging. I have a johnson digital temp controller to regulate the freezer so I can keep constant temps. First question is what is the best temp to store kegs at?

Secondly I have a friend that has been brewing for 13years and from what I have read online, his kegging process seems slightly different than everyone else.

Here is what he does: After he has sanitized and transferred the beer into his keg he sets his pressure at 30psi and shakes the keg for at least 5mins until you no longer hear any gas flwoing into the keg. He puts it into his chest freezer and turns off the CO2. Then everyday for about a week he will open up the regulator (I can't remember if its still set to 30psi or if he drops it to around 12psi) at least 3 times a day and lets the gas flow until you hear it stop flowing into the keg. Then after a week its carbonated and he unhooks the CO2 and never hooks it back up when he wants to dispense beer from his picnic tap.

Now from what I keep reading online a lot of people leave the CO2 hooked up and gas flowing while its in the chest freezer for a few days to carbonate it. And they also hook the CO2 back up when they want to dispense their beer. But, his way seems to be working for him for years.

Anyone have an opinion on this?

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I'm not sure there's a correct answer to this question - should it be a wiki on carbonation technique? –  mdma Dec 7 '12 at 11:16
    
I've been doing this since I started kegging with some pretty repeatable success. FWIW, it seems a bit easier to set the keg on its side and roll back and forth with your foot. I also turn the gas down to 15 psi after shaking and hit the release valve and let it sit for a few hours @ 15 psi. –  Pietro Dec 7 '12 at 15:23
    
Here is a good guide to kegging: scribd.com/doc/22270649/Summerzym95-Kegging-How-To –  paul Dec 7 '12 at 21:23
    
He probably unhooks it from the CO2 because sometime in the past he found an empty keg (and a huge mess) and/or an empty CO2 cylinder. Someone new to kegging needs to keep in mind that if something leaks, even slowly, you're in a world of hurt. –  Dale Jan 13 '13 at 0:11
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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I do this too for some beers when I'm in a hurry. By using 30psi your friend is getting CO2 into the beer quickly - the higher pressure and shaking helps the CO2 enter the beer faster than it does with the usual "hook-up and leave" method. If the beer is at room temperature, then you typically don't overcarbonate because the saturation point at 30psi is around 2.4-2.6 depending upon room temperature (warmer means less CO2 dissolved.) This carbonation table gives the figures.

Because of the room temperature beer, the shaking doesn't completely reach the target volumes of CO2, so the daily top ups at 12 psi are there to finish off the job and get the target level of carbonation - around 2.4 volumes at 12psi for typical serving temp of around 42F.

The gotcha with this is that you must be sure to purge all the air out of the keg or the beer will stale a lot quicker after all that agitation. I've had this happen once when I first started using this method, but if you purge the headspace 5-10 times, then this shaker method works well and can save some time.

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Thanks for the help! So when you say to purge all the air out you mean immediately after I have shaken it with the inflow of CO2 at 30psi or do you keep purging it each day? And finally do you hook the CO2 back up at all when serving from the keg or should it be fine without since it will be fully carbonated after a few days of 12psi injections when its in the chest freezer? –  HopHead73 Dec 7 '12 at 18:46
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I mean to purge before shaking. Fill the headspace with co2, and then bleed by pulling the pressure relief valve until almost empty (but not completely empty.) Repeat 5-10 times. When you shake the beer, oxygen, as well as co2 is also dissolved many hundreds of times quicker, so you want to try to rid the headspace of oxygen to avoid having that available in the beer for staling reactions. –  mdma Dec 11 '12 at 22:57
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Here is a good guide to kegging: http://www.scribd.com/doc/22270649/Summerzym95-Kegging-How-To

You'll usually see beer served at 47F for American styles, low-mid 50s for English styles. But it's personal preference. Try to get your probe as close to the beer temp as possible. Mine is against the fullest keg and wrapped in insulation foam. I find that I need to set it a couple degrees lower than I want the beer with my freezer, so I set it around 43 with a 5 degree differential (dif), which means it will be between 38 and 48 and the compressor doesn't come on all the time. I also recommend putting a computer fan in there attached to the controller to keep the air circulating. This means when the fridge is on, the fan is on. This keeps cold air more evenly distributed and helps prevent condensation.

There are generally 2 (or 2 and half) methods you'll see for carbonation:

  1. Set it and forget it. Chill the beer overnight. Set the CO2 to PSI for desired carbonation volumes list in carbonation chart. Wait 1-2 weeks.
  2. Crank and agitate. Chill the beer overnight. Crank the CO2 up to 20-30 PSI. Shake for a few minutes. The guide recommends a variant on this (2.5) - chill and set to desired PSI then roll for 15 minutes, then let it settle for a few hours.

I have used a carbonation/oxygenation stone on my last few batches. You can get them cheap on amazon. You hook the stone up to some tubing with a clamp, then hook the other end of the tubing to the gas-in tube on the keg with a clamp. Then follow the method in the guide (set to desired PSI and shake). I was able to carbonate in about 20-30 min, then let it settle for a couple hours with the CO2 on, then it was carbonated and ready to drink.

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I find it easier to leave the CO2 line on the whole time. I also shake the keg on its side to speed things up.

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