Keg ConditioningPosted by Dave on January 25, 2023 at 5:21 pm
Hello BrewTogther Community. I have two questions on conditioning ales in a keg. First, do you condition the beer in the keg at room temp for a couple of weeks, or should they go straight into the kegerator (which is about 37 degrees)? Secondly, should the beer be fully carbonated as it conditions, or should you just input enough CO2 to purge any oxygen while it conditions? Thanks for your thoughts!
- 5 Replies
- MemberJanuary 30, 2023 at 10:42 am
Just about any beer should be stored cold – it will reduce the speed at which the beer becomes stale.
Storage temperature has a huge effect on how long flavors stay consistent in beer (some even say it has a greater effect than oxygenation). Once fermentation is complete, you should definitely avoid keeping the beer unrefrigerated for extended periods. I keep kegs that are not on tap yet in a conditioning fridge set to 34F (lower than regular fridge temperature of 38F). The colder you keep beer (without freezing it), the more it helps delay aging and slows down reactions that can cause the beer to deteriorate and go stale. Because of this, beer stored just above freezing can remain flavor stable for many months while beer stored at room temperature may exhibit stale flavors after only a few weeks.
There are a few styles that need to be conditioned at a higher temperature because the change in flavors is actually desireable for the style. Usually, these are high ABV beers like Barleywine, Russian Imperial Stout, and Belgian Dark Strong Ale (Quad). The higher the temperature, the faster the beer will age. Above 55F the aging reactions will occur at such a speed that undesirable off-flavors may be created.
- AdministratorJanuary 30, 2023 at 10:51 am
Echoing some of Jim’s points on longevity of beer based on temperature. Here’s an overview of how long beer stays fresh and some infographics that summarize the information in case it’s helpful! https://brewtogether.com/2022/10/22/how-long-does-beer-last/
- MemberJanuary 30, 2023 at 10:55 am
I condition at low temperatures (no higher than serving temperature). You definitely make sure you purge any air with CO2, I fill a keg with sanitizer and transfer it to another keg by using co2 to push it out, which leaves me with a really well purged keg. I then close transfer so there’s no need for me to really purge anything. If you’re not doing closed transfers, then purging is a must or you’ll introduce too much oxygen to your beer.
- MemberJanuary 30, 2023 at 10:57 am
Once I hit FG and I’m ready to keg, I keg it, purge with C02, and stick it in the cooler at 20PSI for a day or two. Lower down to serving pressure and it’s ready in ~3 days. I don’t leave it longer for conditioning.
- MemberFebruary 1, 2023 at 9:48 am
I appreciate everyone’s responses! To clarify, I am looking at giving this beer a couple of weeks to age in the keg because it fermented out so fast, I so wasn’t asking about about carbonation and serving temp & pressure. To give you an update, I talked to two brewers at our two local breweries. Both said conditioning should be done at low temperatures (in the 30’s). Regarding pressure, one said that she puts in just enough CO2 to purge the headspace and then gives it about 3 days before bringing pressure up the rest of the way. The other brewer says he brings it up to serving pressure right from the start, although part of that is so that he can sample to beer to know when it is ready to release. I’ll give an update in a few weeks once we tap the keg!!