The Liquid Bread Carbonater is one of our favourite brewery “mini” must-haves. The concept is simple — Put flat beer into a plastic bottle (PET, pop, whatever…JUST NOT GLASS), chill in fridge, and carbonate in a few minutes.
Yep, it’s that easy. All you need is a CO2 tank, regulator, and a ball lock gas disconnect (not sure if they work on pin locks, as we don’t use those), the Liquid Bread Carbonater, and a bottle.
CAVEAT: Go to www.liquidbread.com and watch the instructional video on how to use this device correctly. The way we use it works for us, and may not follow the safety instructions on how to use the product. We suggest you always put safety first, and decide what method works for you.
Now, here’s what we do…
When carbonating a flat beer, you want to squeeze out the headspace containing air. Air contains a lot of oxygen and nitrogen. Oxygen you don’t want in your beer. Nitrogen you can’t get in your beer (at these levels of PSI).
We attach the Liquid Bread Carbonater to the ball lock gas dispenser while the CO2 tank is shut off. We then squeeze out the air from the bottle, and screw the Liquid Bread Carbonater onto the bottle (again, with the CO2 shut off). We then turn on the CO2 tank, and set our CO2 regulator to 40 PSI, and set an alarm for 2 minutes if we are force carbonating a 500 ml PET bottle. The video on www.liquidbread.com states that the PSI should not exceed 40 PSI, so we feel using that PSI should be safe (figuring the product has a safety buffer factor). The video also states, however, that the product should never be attached to the bottle and CO2 for more than 20 seconds. We leave it on for 2 minutes, 3 for a beer like a Hefeweizen, while vigorously shaking the bottle. Again, do what is safe and what works for you. Using safety glasses, and perhaps a towel over your bottle while force carbonating are two ways to increase safety no matter how you use this device.
Here we are vigorously shaking the cold flat beer for 2 minutes at 40 PSI (for a typically carbonated beer). We then take it off the gas, and shake it some more to further infuse the CO2.
Here, we have shaken the cold flat beer for 2 minutes. We then try to put the beer in the fridge for as long as possible…Doing so will help diffuse the CO2 into the beer, reducing slight overflow of the beer when opening the bottle. Most of the time we just open the beer and pour it quickly.
Et Voila — Our chocolate stout force-carbonated for 2 minutes at 40 PSI from completely flat (we used the BRIX chocolate in the beer…mostly because it said it was “for wine”). Beautiful carbonation, lasting lacing, no waiting weeks to bottle condition, and very good use of extra beer that didn’t fit into the keg when transferring from the fermenter. We do find, if we feel especially discerning, that putting the beer into the fridge and waiting a few hours or days will make the carbonation seem more infused into the beer (mouthfeel). Typically, this is only rather slight, and not always worth it. And hey, if you need a beer to go from 0 to carbonated in 2 minutes, that’s probably not your primary interest. We have also put entire batches of beer into 2 litre pop bottles, and used this method to carbonate them. Carbonating bottles does not correlate on a linear scale with respect to PSI vs time. For example, while we force-carbonate a 500 ml bottle for 2 minutes at 40 PSI, we often force carbonate a 2 litre bottle for 5 minutes at 30 PSI (we use 2 litre bottles very infrequently, so please experiment with these on your own).
The Liquid Bread Carbonater is a great, relatively inexpensive (~$20-$30 CAD) addition to your brew house. The best reason to justify its purchase is this: While you are transferring your beer from your fermenter to either a keg or even while bottle conditioning, you can fill a plastic bottle with your flat beer, chill it, carbonate it, and know what it takes like right away. Not only does this give you impatient gratification, it also gives you a benchmark in regards to how the beer will develop in keg/bottle. Also, for brewers like us who like to tweak their beer post-brewing/fermentation, this is a great way to do so. You can even use a thief to fill a bottle, and quickly turn it into a finished beer to evaluate it and decide whether the beer is good for the keg/bottle, or needs adjustment.