Crank and Shake: Force Carbonation revisited

Scott and I were discussing how we force carbonate our beers recently and I had trouble remembering why I did mine the way I had. Scott said he was still using the old “crank & shake” method, which while fun, is really potentially dangerous for your back and not all that great for the beer. Where better to turn for the answer than BYO’s Mr. Wizard?

Under-carbonated beer is of course what you had before applying the crank-n-shake method. I use the term “crank” to describe the random application of gas pressure resulting from cranking the gas regulator to its maximum setting of 30 psi and unleashing this pressure on the poor keg of beer. If beer could become ill from too much dissolved gas like scuba divers do when staying down too deep for too long, these beers would certainly suffer from a high rate of the bends.

…Once you have your gas plan, attach your keg to the carbon dioxide tank adjusted to the pressure dictated by your gas table and wait. A batch of homebrew is small and the headspace pressure will equilibrate with the beer in about 3 days. The only thing you can do to speed this method up is to periodically shake the keg. Some people want to bubble the gas through the dip tube in the keg, but this really does not speed things up much because the gas bubbles are too large and zip through the beer before much gas diffuses into solution. It also causes foaming. Take my advice and just hang tight!

Here’s the rest of the article. In summary:

  • Find the correct volume of gas for your beer
  • Push that pressure into your keg
  • Wait

Edit: Rob over at has a keg pressure calculator.

3 thoughts on “Crank and Shake: Force Carbonation revisited”

  1. the last three beers I did, I used this “new” method of just setting it and leaving the beer alone. My back and taste buds want to thank Mr. Wizard.

  2. I’ve tried a few ways…

    1. crank and shake (tilting side to side on your leg is easier on the back)
    2. calculate, set pressure and wait (continuously connected gas)
    3. (in small fridge) calc, set pressure, disconnect, reconnect CO2 once a day

    My favorite is to calculate, set pressure and wait. While I’m waiting I use one of those carbonator cap thingys and a 1 or 2 liter bottle to “crank and shake” a smaller amount of beer. ‘Cause I’m impatient and I wanna see how it tastes with some carbonation right now.

  3. If you’re using the crank and shake method, I find its easier to use a longer gas hose, place the keg on the floor on its side, and roll it back and forth with your feet. No sore back, no sore thighs, and much easier to maintain.

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