How To Capture Co2 And Carbonate Your Beverage
-Now that you have the pump assembly, it is time to capture Co2. To do this, we will simply attach a 3/8" ID hose to a large Mylar balloon, suck the air out of the balloon, then attach it to an airlock (during fermentation).
-The balloon has a thin plastic flap that does not allow air to flow out of the balloon, this must be removed. I removed this by jamming a pen into the inlet of the balloon; when I removed the pen, the flap came out with it, then I tore off the flap. Next you need to insert a section of 3/8" ID hose, you might need to enlarge the opening to the balloon a little bit to accomplish this. BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL WHILE PREPARING THE BALLOON SO THAT IT DOES NOT TEAR.
-Once the hose is inserted into the balloon, tape the balloon onto the tube, make sure this is an air-tight connection.
-Connect the other end of the tube to the inlet check-valve on the pump; suck out any air that might be in the balloon by pumping.
-Next connect the tube to the exhaust end of an airlock using Teflon tape. Make sure this connection is tight. If there is a leak at all in the line, you will not be able to capture Co2 properly.
-Once you put the yeast into the beer to ferment, attach the SANITIZED airlock to the carboy as you normally would (there should be water in the airlock as there normally would be).
-The Co2 given off from fermentation will be captured into the balloon. Different beers ferment at different rates so how quickly your balloon fills up will vary. I have had balloons fill up in less than 5 hours, but most will take about 24 hours. Watch them carefully so they don't pop.
-Once the balloon is full, quickly remove the Teflon tape from the hose and airlock, then attach the hose to the inlet check valve of the pump, then hose clamp it on.
-One carboy should be able to fill about 3-4 balloons of this size. 1 balloon of this size (30" wide) should be enough to carbonate four 5L mini kegs. I would recommend capturing at least 2 balloons full of Co2, because the Co2 can also be used to purge the oxygen from the kegs (described on the next page), and to dispense the beverage.
Carbonating Your Beverage
-To carbonate your beverage, simply pump Co2 into your 5L mini keg. The mini keg should already be cooled to a target temperature (see the carbonation chart). Pump approximately 5psi over the target pressure, then shake/agitate the keg (this allows the Co2 to absorb faster). As you do this, the pressure will drop as the beverage absorbs Co2. Do this about twice a day, for about four days. Once the pressure stops dropping below the target pressure when you shake/agitate the keg, the beverage is carbonated and ready to drink. Thick, full bodied beverages will take longer to carbonate than lighter bodied beverages.
-Note: when attaching and removing the pump to the valve on the mini keg, make sure the keg is upright to prevent the beverage from back flowing out of the presta valve.
-The following page shows how to build a mini keg tap, and a 2L bottle tap, that is compatible with this pump. By pumping Co2 into the keg/2L bottle, the beverage will remain carbonated much longer, and will not go stale.
-The next page also shows how to hook all of this stuff up to a small (dorm size) refrigerator, so you can always have fresh beer and soda on tap.
-Also the next page will show how to filter your beer.