Rescuing the Beer

The plan was to crack open the beer on New Year’s Eve. It was supposed to finish fermenting for two weeks in the keg and the generated CO2 would carbonate the beer.

I also wanted a way to chill the beer without having to ice the whole keg. The bar in my basement has an ice box for a chilling coil, so I went to Home Depot and bought 30 ft of copper tubing. I got some extra fittings from Audubon hardware and hooked everything up. Well, everything except for the quick disconnects on the keg. These are the connectors that link the CO2 tank’s gas line to the keg and the tank’s beer line to the tap.

I literally bruised and bloodied my hands trying to attach them, spewing beer all over myself in the process.

Read on for the rest of the long tale.It wasn’t until the next day that I realized I had the connectors backwards and even though they looked the same, the gas connector and the liquid connector were different. Argh!

To make matters worse, when I finally got everything working the beer was flat! I looked at the possible reasons why:

1. There may have been a tiny amount of bleach still in the keg that killed the yeast (unlikely because there was some pressure in the keg and there was at least some amount of carbonation in the beer).

2. We may not have used enough priming sugar before we sealed up the keg (I doubt it).

3. I kept the keg in the basement and it may have been too cold. I think this was definitely the problem, since my basement is way under the 70 degrees needed for carbonating.

So I decided to try to save the beer by opening the keg, adding 1 tablespoon of priming sugar, closing it up, pressurizing the keg, bringing the keg upstairs to keep it warm, and hoping it would finish carbonating.

I did all that, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that by allowing oxygen back into the tank I risked destroying the flavor. The whole point of using CO2 is to keep it from Oxidizing. I asked a few other homebrewers I know and I decided to go ahead and force carbonate it.

Force carbonating is the process of forcing CO2 into the beer instead of creating it with the yeast. I pressurized the keg to 22 psi and shook it up. I did that every hour for two more hours and according to the beer experts online, the beer should be ok to drink tomorrow night.

So my questions are…

Did I screw up the beer by letting Oxygen get in?
Did I really screw it up by putting in more sugar and then force carbonating it?
Do my skinless knuckles really hurt this bad?
Will the beer be good?

Find out tomorrow night!