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When kegging beer, you have several options as far as carbonation go. In this article we'll outline 4 methods for carbonating beer. The long way (7 days). The much shorter but still kinda long way (1 day). The very quick way (30 minutes). And the lightening fast, super quick way (5 minutes). You might be thinking, why would anyone wait a week for their beer to carbonate? The answer to that is that it's the easiest, least risky way to carbonate beer. As far as these methods go, the quicker the method, the more likely it is that you'll end up over-carbonating, which can be a pain to deal with.
The 1 Week Home Brew Carbonation Method
Keg the beer, purge it with CO2, apply gas at serving pressure (11psi, for example) and leave it sit at serving temperature (45F or so) for a week. This is the fool proof, no risk method. In 7 days, your beer will be carbonated.
The 24 Hour Beer Carbonation Method
Chill the beer to to serving temp (45F), keg and purge with CO2, apply gas at 45psi and leave sit for 24 hours. You should have carbonated beer in 24 hours. Assuming your pressure regulator is in working order and you don't forget about the beer, the carbonation level should be perfecto. Also, don't forget to drop pressure back down to 11ish psi to serve.
The 30 Minute Home Brew Beer Carbonation Method
Chill the beer to serving temp (45F), keg and purge with CO2, apply gas at 50psi. Remove from gas and shake for 5 mins. Re-pressurize, remove from gas, shake for 5 mins. Repeat 1 more time. At this point, sample the beer (don't forget to drop regulator back down to serving pressure). Is it adequately carbonated? If you like it, stop here. If it could use more, hit it with another 50psi and shake again. Do this until the beer is carbonated. But don't overdo it!
The 3 Minute Beer Carbonation Method
Chill the beer to serving temp (45F), keg and purge with CO2, apply gas at 50psi and shake while gas is still connected to the keg. Don't shake any longer than 3 minutes! Drop pressure back down to serving (11psi) and sample. When I employ this method i generally shake until it's "reasonably carbonated" then leave it sit at serving pressure to finish. This method is the most likely to cause over carbonation. But as long as you don't shake more than 3 mins, you should be good to go.