Chapter 16

Beer Carbonation

Principles of Carbonation

The time required to reach a desired carbon dioxide concentration depends on a number of physical factors. Temperature and pressure play an important role in determining the equilibrium concentration of carbon dioxide in solution. Increasing the pressure leads to a linear increase in carbon dioxide solubility in beer. Decreasing the temperature gives a nonlinear increase in carbon dioxide solubility in beer. Consequently, the equilibrium concentration cannot be attained without either increasing the pressure or decreasing the temperature. Thus, the closer the carbonating temperature is to 0C and the higher the pressure, the greater the carbon dioxide absorption. The amount of carbon dioxide that dissolves is a function of time, with the rate decreasing exponentially as equilibrium is approached.

Carbon Dioxide Levels in Beer

Typically, American lagers require carbon dioxide levels ranging from 2.5 to 2.8 volumes of carbon dioxide, while Continental lagers require carbon dioxide levels between 2.4 and 2.5.

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