It's happened to us all - too many kegs, not enough time left to "properly" carbonate your beer before it needs to be served. Who knows, maybe you have a party or club meeting. Maybe you just need a beer, damnit.
The old school proper carbonation method involved looking at a carbonation table. You set your regulator to the appropriate p.s.i. for your temperature and desired carbonation level, hook the gas up to your keg and patiently wait 10-14 days. Then you pull the gas, relieve the pressure and serve a bright sparkling glass of brew.
But many homebrewers, of course, just can't wait and so they follow the other "traditional" advice - chill your beer, set the regulator to 30 p.s.i., hook up the gas and set the keg on its side and shake for 5-10 minutes. Right the keg, pop the pressure and serve.
The slame and shake is definitely a less accurate methodology, so I've used a combination method for years to get the benefits of both. Basically, I choose the appropriate psi on the table, set my regulator to that level+1-2 p.s.i. and then rock the keg until the gas stops burbling (~5-15 minutes). At that point, I let the keg settle and release the pressure and prepare to serve.
So does it work? I think it does, but there's a belief that any of the agitation methods damage foaming qualities of the beer. Let's test it out and let's see if the method works and if tasters notice a difference between them!
Brewing Sessions Needed:
- This will be a draft project, so we're asking that the beers be served on draft (or from growlers fresh filled from draft)
- Record the beer temperature, psi, and time setting at which you carbonate both kegs.
- After the triangle test - ask the testers for their observations about the beer foam and carbonation levels.
- A further observation - is there an additional bite to the "slam" carbonated beers? Some report a sharper character as a hallmark of the technique.
- Brew enough TBD Recipe to split evenly between two kegs (e.g. brew 5 gallons and split evenly into 2.5 gallons kegs). Record the Original Gravity. Pitch equal sized yeast pitches for all the kegs.
- Ferment all batches in the same space and under the same conditions, especially temperature. Match the fermenters and other equpment.
- After fermentation subsides, record the length of fermentation and the final gravities.
- Package the two beers in two separate kegs. Chill both kegs to the same temperature.
- Add 1-2 psi to the regulator from the settings necessary to hit 2.5 volumes of carbonation according to your table/chart/software. Attach the gas to the "slam" keg and set it on it's side and rock back and forth for 5-10 minutes or until the gas stops audibly bleeding into the keg on shaking.
- For the "gentle keg", reset the regulator to the appropriate psi to achieve 2.5 volumes of carbonation for the beer storage temperature and hook to the "gently keg". Let sit for 10 days.
- Remove the gas and bleed the pressure on both kegs and set them to serving pressure.
- Perform a triangle test and record the results
- Ask the testers for their observations on the samples. DO NOT Reveal the Difference between the samples
- Discuss the results and record any further observations