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I'm getting ready to try kegging for the first time and I'm wondering how much conditioning time might be lost in the process (assuming the keg is refrigerated and force-carbonated immediately after filling).

When bottling the beer gets another couple of weeks or more at room temperature to further condition/age. When kegging the lower temperatures will likely be inhibiting this some, if not entirely, which makes me wonder if I should leave it in the fermenter longer than normal.

Assuming I'm at the point where I would normally bottle (say two weeks into primary for a lower gravity ale), would that be too early to keg? Should I leave it longer to account for earlier cooling?

  • You can keep bottles and kegs refrigerated. Or you can keep them at room temperature. Why do you think kegging and refrigerating are connected? – Mołot May 10 '16 at 20:47
  • @Molot I suppose I'm assuming that I would refrigerate immediately after kegging, while carbonating. Is it common to leave a filled keg at room temperature when not keg-conditioning? – thesquaregroot May 10 '16 at 20:50
  • Don't know about "common", but I've seen it done. More often than not, actually. Most people I know only refrigerated beer near serving, to save very limited space in refrigerator. – Mołot May 10 '16 at 20:53
  • @Molot Okay, I'll update my question to be more clear that I mean refrigerating immediately after kegging. – thesquaregroot May 10 '16 at 20:54
  • I think that maybe you're being misled about the need for or desirability of aging. For some styles, sure. For many more, it's neither necessary nor advantageous. – Denny Conn May 19 '16 at 15:56
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The time for when a beer is ready to drink is process and recipe dependent. The beauty of kegging is that you'll see how the beer changes with a short pour everyday.

Most of my beers go from fermentor to keg and I slowly carbonate. Takes a couple days, maybe a full week for full on carbonation. But they pretty much taste great at that point. Changes in the flavor are usually due to more yeast flocculation more than anything else. If the fermentation process was spot on their isn't anything magical happening when it sits longer (bottle or keg, room temp or cold). I used to think "green" beer was a thing, but at the homebrew scale I think it really is mostly fermentation dependent. Most pro breweries turn beer over way faster than we do.

So I guess my answer is: welcome to kegging. You've made that process easier for yourself. Now really focus on your fermentation to improve the beer and shorten the time needed for "conditioning".

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  • This makes a good amount of sense and gave me some things I could look into separately to gain more understanding about fermentation/conditioning timeframes. Thanks for the nods in the right direction. – thesquaregroot May 11 '16 at 12:32
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Carbonating and Aging are two diferent things. Aging depends on the beer style this is to make the flavors be more consistent or mantain the foam or some other things.

for example if you brew an IPA:

  • Brew
  • Ferment 2 weeks
  • Keg 4 days Carbonate and Cold Crash (gelatin)
  • Drink Asap

With a Imperial Stout:

  • Brew
  • Ferment 2 weeks
  • Cold crash 2 weeks
  • Age 2 Months On Keg Or bottle (depending on ABV for 9-12)
  • Drink and Enjoy

Its all depending on beer style. I recommend on for normal beers this intinerary:

  • Brew
  • 2 Weeks on primary (i dont do secondary but you can)
  • 1 Week On Keg with gelatin for clearing and 2Bar of CO2 for carbonating Every 2 or 3 days drop 1 glass of beer (or drink it) until its crystaline becouse the sediment go to the bottom of the keg and you must get rid of that.

Hope it helps you.

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The safest way is to force carb is to plug it in at serving pressure (12 psi for most styles) and refridgerate at the same time, leave it undisturbed for 5-7 days. This will also fine your beer with a cold crash, first couple pints will have murk but clear from there. This will shave a week off your normal brew to serve time over bottle conditioning.

When you get more comfortable, there's ways to have you beer carbonated even before it's fully chilled reducing keg to serve time to less than 8 hours.

Here's a couple.

  • Use 30 psi attached to out lock, roll or swirl for 5 minutes. Bleed off pressure then attach to serving pressure as normal (in lock).

  • Use a carbonation stone / lid. Either as above or plug and forget. Messes with in keg fining, risk of manifold contamination, regulator damage. Make sure this beers line is the only open line.

  • Plug and forget into the out lock cuts the top down method time in half. Messes with in keg fining, risk of manifold contamination, regulator damage. Make sure this beers line is the only open line.

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