Why Won’t My Homebrew Carbonate? Fixing Beer Carbonation Problems

It’s a tale as old as time, or maybe not quite as old as time, but still old… your beer has finished fermenting, you excitedly transfer it to a keg and wait patiently.  Well, maybe not so patiently.  Every day or two you draw some beer to see where it’s at… it tastes amazing but it’s not carbonating.  You think you’re just being impatient, but then the days continue to pile up.  You’re getting a little carbonation, but not much.  Is this beer broken?  Or, have the basic principles of fluid dynamics just failed?

First Things First…

You’ve probably already done this, but you need to make sure your system is balanced and that both the temperature and pressure levels are set to correctly

See: Step by Step: Balancing Your Kegerator Draft System

Check For Leaks

You’ve probably already done this too, but you need to make sure your kegerator is leak-free.

Why Your Beer Still Won’t Carbonate…

In my experience, continued carbonation problems are a reliable sign of… a CO2 leak.  You may be convinced that your CO2 lines are leak-free, but… it’s possible you’re missing something.  Even a very small leak will foil the carbonation process.

Gas is going to want to take the path of least resistance.  Leaking out of a bad o-ring, or other slow, small leak is easier than dissolving into solution.

If you’re reading this odds good you’ve checked for fast, large leaks.  If that’s the case, take a close look at the gas post o-rings and gas dip tube o-rings.

From our Keg Rebuild Post – Jump To: Replace O-Rings

Post o-rings are a prime suspect because it’s tough to check for a cracked, leaking o-ring.  Testing at this point using the “spray bottle method” (spray Star San everywhere and check for bubbles) is impossible (or at the very least difficult and messy).  Leaks will only surface here when a gas QD is actually engaged.  The problem is, you can’t easily see that spot when a QD on.  Stated more simply, you need a QD on to see if it’s leaking, but you can’t see it if a QD is on.  You can use what I can the pressure gauge method to check for leaks.

If your beer is not carbonating and your system is balanced and you’ve checked for fast leaks.  I recommend taking a hard look at gas dip tube and post o-rings.

I’m quick to replace these o-rings in general.  Beyond slow and no-carbing beers, a bad gas o-ring can lead to empty tanks, which are… not fun.  Grab Post O-Rings in Bulk to have on hand

Valuebrew carries color coded post o-rings… “Green for Gas” and “Blue for Beer” they also carry pin lock post o-rings in bulk,  Search “Post” at Valuebrew to see full lineup.

Bulk Keg Orings and Keg Repair Part Numbers

Also: Kegerator Tips & Gear | Keg Repair Part #s | Recent Keg Finds

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Make sure the components you use are compatible and rated for your intended application.  Contact manufacturer with questions about suitability or a specific application.  Always read and follow manufacturer directions.

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1 thought on “Why Won’t My Homebrew Carbonate? Fixing Beer Carbonation Problems

  1. Bill Blakeslee

    One other big reason is Higher final gravity beers or beers with lactose added. These generally require a little more convincing such as shaking the keg rather than the burst carbonation technique

    Reply

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