Rob McFerren: Craft beer carbonation

Craft breweries are all over California.

Carbonation in craft beer is an important aspect and the level of carbonation can vary widely depending on the style of beer. The effects of carbonation strongly influence a beer’s mouthfeel, flavor, aroma and appearance. 

Without carbonation a beer is considered “flat,” which would make it dull and lifeless. When a beer ferments, the byproducts of the yeast consuming the sugars created in the brewing process are ethanol (alcohol) and carbon dioxide gas. There’s some science involved that I won’t get into here, but the amount of carbonation in the beer will vary depending on the temperature and the pressure of carbon dioxide in the vessel (tank or keg).

Carbonation levels range from low to high for different beer styles according to tradition and the brewer’s preference. Most craft beers are considered moderately carbonated, such as pale ales, IPA’s, amber/red ales, blonde ales, craft lagers and more. Some beers tend to have a lower amount of carbonation and these include stouts, porters and brown ales. 

Scottish, Irish and English beer styles also tend to be on the lower end of the carbonation level range and this has been traditionally the way these beers have been brewed in the British Isles for centuries. Most wheat beers will have a higher carbonation level such as Bavarian Hefeweizens. These are only a few beer styles to give you an idea of the range of carbonation.

Carbonation is an important part of craft beer that will enhance your drinking experience while adding that refreshing quality that craft beer drinkers love. There are many more aspects of carbonation in beer to explore, but this gives you a starting point to go from. 

Life’s short, drink craft! Cheers!

Rob McFerren is the owner of Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Co.

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