How Long Does Beer Need To Condition in the Keg?
Experienced beer brewers know that conditioning is one of the most critical stages in the brewing process. Conditioning allows beer time to carbonate and adds to the complexity of flavor. If you are using a keg to store your beer, you may wonder how long you need to condition the beer.
Your conditioning method determines how long your beer needs to condition in a keg. If you are using the shake method, your beer will need to condition for just 2-3 hours. If you use the burst method, allow it to go for 12-24 hours. However, if you follow a slow method, it may take 10-14 days.
In this article, I will discuss everything you need to know about conditioning your beer in a keg.
Slow Conditioning: 10–14 Days
The slow conditioning method is the easiest way to condition your beer. This method takes 10-14 days but does not need a lot of active involvement. I find this method best for beginner brewers.
Here’s a video that demonstrates this method:
Here’s how to use the slow conditioning method:
- Distill your beer into a keg once the primary fermentation process is complete.
- Mix in half a cup (100.43 g) of corn sugar.
- Attach a gas reader to the keg and set it to 12.5 psi (86.18 kpa).
- Place the keg in your fridge.
- Keep monitoring the reader to gauge how carbonated your beer is. Refer to the table below to understand how carbonated the beer is.
- Once your beer has reached the carbonation level you’re after, you can begin to dispense and drink it.
This process takes a maximum of 14 days.
Here’s a breakdown of how to read the beer’s carbonation levels.
|Reading||Carbonation Level||Type of Beer|
|0 – 1.49 volumes CO2||Under Carbonated||Beer is not yet ready!|
|1.50 – 2.19 volumes CO2||Moderately Carbonated||Stouts and porters|
|2.20 – 2.59 volumes CO2||Well Carbonated||Lagers, ales and ambers|
|2.60 – 4.0 volumes CO2||HIghly Carbonated||Highly carbonated ales and wheat beers|
|4.01+ volumes CO2||Over Carbonated||Speciality ales|
Burst Method: 12- 24 Hours
The burst method takes 12-14 hours and involves increasing the amount of carbon dioxide you feed your beer. This method is best for more experienced home brewers as it takes trial and error to get the carbonation levels right.
Here’s how to use the burst method to condition your beer:
- Filter your beer into the keg once it has completed the first level of fermentation.
- Attach a carbon dioxide pipe to the keg.
- Set it at a high psi level (refer to the table below).
- Put the keg in the fridge and allow it time to condition.
- An hour before you want to take out a sample, turn the carbon dioxide peg down to 20 psi (137.89 kpa).
- Once satisfied with the sample, turn off the carbon dioxide pipe and serve the beer.
Here are some guidelines on how long the burst method will take to condition your beer:
|Amount of carbon dioxide||Low/Moderate Carbonation||High Carbonation|
|30 psi (206.8 kpa)||16 hours||48 hours|
|35 psi (241.32 kpa)||14 hours||34 hours|
|40 psi (275.8 kpa)||12 hours||30 hours|
|45 psi (310.26 kpa)||10 hours||26 hours|
|50 psi (344.74 kpa)||8 hours||24 hours|
Shake Method: 2–3 Hours
The shake method is a quick way to carbonate your beer. However, it requires some physical exertion. To carbonate beer, you move and shake your keg to increase the amount of carbon dioxide that flows into it. This process can take up to 3 hours.
Here are the steps to carbonating your beer using the shake method:
- Filter your fermented beer into the keg.
- Put the keg in the fridge and allow the beer to cool for 30 minutes to an hour. This can help speed up the carbonation process.
- Attach your gas pipe to the keg and set it to 30 psi (206.8 kpa) .
- Lay a towel onto the floor and put the keg on it.
- Roll the keg back and forth for 10-15 minutes.
- Stop rolling the keg and listen to the sound of carbon dioxide entering the keg. You should be able to tell that this is happening when you hear a hissing sound.
- Continue rolling the keg back and forth and listening for the hissing sound.
- Once the sound stops, the beer has absorbed most of the carbon dioxide.
- Put the keg in the fridge to cool for another 30 minutes.
- Sample, then serve the beer.
Allow Time for Diacetyl Rest
While most of these methods call for you to immediately distill your beer into the keg after the primary fermentation, you should try to give the beer some time for diacetyl rest. Diacetyl rest is best for lagers and ales and adds to the complexity of the beer’s flavor.
This process takes 1-2 days. It involves giving the beer time to convert the diacetyl produced during primary fermentation to compounds with less flavor. If you allow time for the process, you can avoid your beer tasting too sweet.
Here’s how to achieve diacetyl rest:
- Allow your fermenting beer to reach near its gravity point.
- Raise the temperature to a few degrees higher than the original fermenting environment.
- Allow the beer to rest for 1-2 days.
- Refrigerate the beer for a few hours and begin the conditioning process.
Beer Conditioning: A Summary
You can refer to the table below to help you quickly determine how much time your beer needs to condition.
|Slow Conditioning||10-14 days|
|Burst Method||12-24 hours|
|Shake Method||2-3 hours|
Conditioning your beer in a keg can take 2 hours – 14 days, depending on your chosen method. To choose which method you use:
- Consider your expertise and experience with home brewing
- Look at the facilities and equipment available
- Think about the kind of beer you want to make
- Think about how hands-on you want to be with conditioning your beer.
You should also factor in time for the beer to get diacetyl rest to attain the best quality beer. Giving the beer the time it needs to ferment, rest, condition, and mature will help you consistently produce high-quality beer.