Carbonation Levels for Beer Styles

Today I’d like to talk about carbonation levels for beer styles, which for a British brewer might seem odd. As British brewing heritage is “making flat warm beer” to a lot of people.

Yes, the history of real ale meant the only carbonation in the beer came from the CO2 produced during fermentation in open tanks. Whilst our German brewing brothers were “spunding” their fermentations.

Thereby capturing the CO2 given off during fermentation and naturally carbonating their beers to much higher levels. For more information about spunding please read our “How to Spund” Article.

However, most modern breweries make many styles of beer in uni-tanks. From American pale ales to Belgian table beers. When making a new beer, many brewers start with BJCP guidelines.

BJCP Guidelines – Carbonation Levels for Beer Styles

The BJCP guidelines (Beer Judge Certification Program), are the set parameters for each beer style. They’re the framework off which beer judges, base the merits of each beer. The parameters are:

  • ABV (alcohol by volume)
  • OG (original gravity)
  • FG (final gravity)
  • Color (SRM Chart)
  • Bitterness (IBU’s)
Carbonation Levels for Beer Styles - Table

They also have suggested appearance, how the flavor should be, as well as carbonation levels. Furthermore, carbonation levels can actually make or break a beer. They can influence mouthfeel of a beer or help increase or decrease bitterness perceptions.

What CO2 Levels for Which Style

Overtime beer styles have been locked in according to brewing history. So, in general Belgian beers are on the high side of carbonation. Whilst British beers have lower carbonation.

The right carbonation level can make a Tripel sing; (2.4 – 3.0 vols), it’s on the high side, but complements the phenolic flavors unique to the style. As for an English Barleywine (1.6 – 2.5 vols.), the lower carbonation allows for the maltiness to come through, again great for the style.

So, what carbonation levels for beer styles, do you have for each? Well, this is where our handy guide comes in. Which you can download by clicking here.

Carbonation Levels for Beer Styles
Click the Image To Download the Guide too

Each has each beer style with their desired carbonation level (lowest end and highest). Often the higher level is for bottling, whilst the lower end is for draft. However, each brewer will have their preference for style and package type.

In the same guide, is a chart to help you reach the desired carbonation level in tank. Depending on the temperature of the beer in tank; it tells you, what pressure to set (in PSI) your tank to, thus achieve perfect carbonation level.

Neil Playfoot

Neil is a brewer with 25 years international brewing experience. Based out of China (first came in 2010) he works as a brewing consultant helping brewers with their projects and brewing processes. To find out what services Neil can provide your brewery please click here. If you'd like to contact Neil you can email at neil@asianbeernetwork.com.
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