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Priming with sugar in keg question

Hi guys,

I don’t keg at the moment as I prefer the character of bottle conditioned beer. (I like the head, lacing, mouthfeel and tinier bubbles as compared to kegging)

However, I do prefer the clarity of kegged beers over ones that are bottle conditioned.

I have a concept that would bring me the best of both worlds (natural carbonation & clarity):

  1. PRIME KEG WITH SUGAR & NATURALLY CONDITION UNTIL DESIRED PROFILE IS OBTAINED
  2. COLD CRASH CARBONATED KEG
  3. TRANSFER OFF SEDIMENT TO NEW KEG

I realize that if I am not transporting the keg then step #3 is not necessary. However, I do want a finished keg that is completely free of sediment.

Is it possible to easily transfer a keg of carbonated beer from one keg to another? If so what is the best practice for this?

Thanks.

It’s tough to do after it is carbed and if you don’t do it right, you could either aerate your beer and make it stale or make a huge foamy mess.

[quote=“KingGorf”]Hi guys,

I don’t keg at the moment as I prefer the character of bottle conditioned beer. (I like the head, lacing, mouthfeel and tinier bubbles as compared to kegging)

Thanks.[/quote]Perhaps you should try to keg first with CO2 and you might find that you have no issues with the head, lacing, mouthfeel, etc.

[quote=“MullerBrau”][quote=“KingGorf”]Hi guys,

I don’t keg at the moment as I prefer the character of bottle conditioned beer. (I like the head, lacing, mouthfeel and tinier bubbles as compared to kegging)

Thanks.[/quote]Perhaps you should try to keg first with CO2 and you might find that you have no issues with the head, lacing, mouthfeel, etc.[/quote]

Fair point. I think for some styles it won’t make a huge difference, but for others it will.

I have never had a Belgian beer on tap that I have preferred as much as the bottled version.

Is anyone aware of commercial breweries who naturally condition their kegged beer?

(aside from casks)

[quote=“KingGorf”]Is anyone aware of commercial breweries who naturally condition their kegged beer?

(aside from casks)[/quote]
Southern Tier Live is naturally conditioned.

http://www.stbcbeer.com/live-pale-ale-b ... nditioned/

Red Oak Brewery in Whitsett, NC regulates fermentation vessel pressures to reach the desired carb level as fermentation ends.

http://www.redoakbrewery.com/

I disagree, it is very easy to do. You need to make a transfer hose that has beer-out keg connections on both ends.

When your beer is carbed and you want to transfer it, dispense a pint or two to pull up the sediment immediately around the intake of the pickup tube. Next purge your empty keg with CO2 and bring it to the same pressure as your full keg. Connect your new transfer hose between the two beer ports on the two kegs. With the CO2 line connected to the full keg, slowly bleed pressure from the empty keg using the pressure relief valve. Beer will flow. As the flow slows, bleed more pressure. Stop when all the beer is transferred or you see sediment moving through the line. Transfer accomplished with zero exposure to oxygen.

I regularly do this if I want to bring a keg to a party or such. Let us know if the carbonation turns out differently using priming in a keg as opposed to priming in a bottle or forced from a tank.

I’m no expert and many here have tons more experience than me so correct me if anything that follows is wrong.

Carbonation is carbonation. If it’s carbonated to 2.3 vols for example it makes no difference to the beer how it got that level of carbonation and the lacing, head retention, etc, will be the same whether it was carbed with sugar or a CO2 cylinder, given equal time at the specific carbonation level.

I’d guess the difference in head, mouthfeel, lacing, etc is more related to the conditioning time it takes with ‘natural’ carbonation since you’re able to drink the ‘force’ carbed beer sooner.

This I believe to be true. My kegs are carbed after a week but the bubbles are finer and the beer better carbed after 2 weeks. It deals with the hydration of CO2. The hydration chemically changes some CO2 to carbonic acid. This is why over carbonated beer has a ‘bite’ or ‘twangy’ flavor as more CO2 was converted to acid.

This I believe to be true. My kegs are carbed after a week but the bubbles are finer and the beer better carbed after 2 weeks. It deals with the hydration of CO2. The hydration chemically changes some CO2 to carbonic acid. This is why over carbonated beer has a ‘bite’ or ‘twangy’ flavor as more CO2 was converted to acid.[/quote]
That is my belief as well, but I also believe there is no advantage to using a secondary, yet many brewers swear that they make their beer better. Let the OP give it a try and see.

I will say that there may be a difference imparted by letting the beer sit on the yeast for a long time. This has nothing to do with carbonation, but rather with the release of compounds as the yeast slowly break down over the course of a year. This is one of the primary drivers for flavor development in fine sparkling wines. But if that is what the OP is tasting, the in-keg priming and then transferring won’t capture it.

Martin Brungard says: “CO2 in solution undergoes a ‘hydration’ process that does take time.”

Apparently just getting the CO2 into solution is not the end of the carbonation process. The magic of getting the CO2 “hydrated” is what produces fine bubbles. I love my keg system, especially the ability to drink the beer a couple of days after transferring out of the primary. Maybe the hydration process explains at least part of the reason the beer gets better after a couple of weeks and is best right before the keg blows.

Check this thread: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=123330

I have been adding sugar to the keg for about 20 years now. It works great and keeps me from all that shaking, gas line leaks, and broken handles on old kegs. I do force carbonate my lagers, but I don’t brew them very often. For my ales, I add a small amount of water to an ounce or two of table sugar and boil it on the stove until it becomes a syrup. I pour it in right before I seal the lid. I add 20 Lbs of CO2 top pressure to make sure the lid seals. If you add it in dry, it can form nucleation sites with the CO2 still in solution and foam over.

I can’t remember the last time I did a secondary fermentation. It is just an extra step unless you are aging a strong beer.

I’ve added sugar to several kegs in the past to carbonate them but will probably not do it again. The sediment that forms as a result of the carbonation process results in a beer that has a difficult time clearing. Sure you could jumper it to a different keg after carbonation but that’s a lot of work and cleaning. I’m of the mentality of 12 psi for 2 weeks on a new keg before serving.

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