Force Carbonate Your Corny Keg

How to Carbonate Your Cornelius Keg in 8 Easy Steps

One of the great joys of home brewing is drinking that first batch of home brew from a keg. In order to do that you must carbonate your Cornelius Keg. There are essentially two ways to do that – forced carbonation and natural carbonation using corn sugar.

Forced carbonation is by far the best way to go. There are many procedures posted on the internet that can help you get this operation completed, however; many are incomplete or already assume the person charging their Cornelius Keg knows what they’re doing.

I was one of those people back when I started kegging and unfortunately following many of these procedures brought dismal results.

After a lot of trial and error and trying a combination of several procedures, I was able to perfect the art (and it is an art, not a science as some would have you believe) of force carbonating a Cornelius Keg.

So here are my 8 simple steps to carbonate your Cornelius keg:
  1. After the fermentation process is complete, clean and sanitize your corny keg. There are many products available that work very well. P.B.W. is good for cleaning and Star San is good for sanitizing your keg.
  2. Siphon the fermented wort into your Cornelius keg and install the cap. Try to keep any contaminates out of the finished wort. Some beers may need to be lagered before the charging of the corny keg takes place. Check your recipe for this step.
  3. Take a screw driver and set the low pressure gauge to about 30 psi. Turn the gas out valve on the regulator to the off position. Connect the pin lock or ball lock fitting to the proper valve on the Cornelius keg.
  4. Turn the valve quickly to the on position. This will help seal the cap to the corny keg. Check the valve stems and cap for any possible leaks with sanitizer solution. Look for bubbles to appear around these places especially around the cap.
  5. If you see any bubbles remove the gas line to the Cornelius keg and drain the pressure in the keg by pushing down on the center of the gas (IN) stem with a small screw driver or a pocket knife to relieve the pressure. Adjust the cap by breaking it loose with the palm of your hand or a rubber mallet. Re-center the cap. At the same time pull up on the cap while locking it in place with the safety locking bar. Repeat step 4 after you reseal the cap on the Cornelius keg.
  6. After the cap is sealed leave the pressure on @ 30 psi. Sit down in a chair, lay the keg across your knees and rock it back and forth for about 5 – 7 minutes. This will help the CO2  absorb into the beer at fast rate by creating more surface area for the CO2 to come in contact with. Disconnect the CO2 from the keg.
  7. Now its time to put it in the refrigerator and let the CO2 super saturate the beer. You might think that’s it, but there is still a little more to it. After about a week, hook the gas back up to the corny keg for about 3 – 4 days @ 10 psi. This will complete the saturation of the beer.
  8. While in storage leave the CO2 attached to the Cornelius keg. This will insure your beer will always be ready to drink. Before serving remove the CO2 hose from the keg. Bleed off the pressure as in step 5. Reset the pressure on the regulator to between 3 & 5 psi. This will allow you to have nicely carbonated beer without a lot of foam.

If this is your first time carbonating a Cornelius Keg or if you have tried before with less than satisfactory results, give this method a try. Like I’ve said before, many of the techniques you read about in home brewing are more art than science. This method has worked well for me, but don’t be afraid to try different things.