Ideal CO2 Gauge Pressure Settings for Different Styles of Beer

beer carbonation

There is nothing worse than pouring a pint from the keg you tapped last week and finding that the pint has an “off” mouthfeel. In the evaluation of beer, texture can be a neglected category, especially in the era of super-hopped IPAs and adjunct-heavy stouts and porters. If a peanut butter and jelly porter is a bit flat, or a 7000 IBU Triple Imperial, Double Dry-Hopped IPA has a bit too much bite from carbonation, it may be overshadowed by the fact that you’re drinking sandwich filling or having all the enamel stripped off your teeth.

You may be nodding your head in agreement as you sip on a Teku full of your favorite $140-a-sixtel beer, but wonder, “What can I do? I didn’t brew the beer. If the mouthfeel is off, then it is one hundred percent the fault of the brewer.”

But carbonation is something that YOU–yes, you the beertender–have control over. How do you know if you have something wrong? There are, indeed, telltale signs.

Signs of Over-Carbonation

  • Looks. It resembles a pint of seltzer water, with lots of small bubbles rushing up from the bottom of the glass.
  • Taste. It’s sharp and acidic. When you combine CO2 with water you get carbonic acid. Bitey beers that weren’t intended to be bitey are not fun to drink.
  • Smell. You may be able to pick up a bit of the acid as the bubbles pop in the general vicinity of your sniffer.
  • Texture. Feels like Pop Rocks in your mouth (in a bad way).

Signs of Under-Carbonation

  • Looks. It’s practically still, like apple juice.
  • Taste. Flat and dull. Not a whole lot going on.
  • Smell. You perceive less aromatics than you would with a properly carbonated beer.
  • Texture. It feels thinner or more watery than you would expect it to.

As with many things in life, the best defense is a strong offense. (Thanks, Beer Coach Madden!) The way to keep your kegged beer properly carbonated is to maintain balance in your system. You may have googled this stuff and been totally thrown off by the formulas. You may have googled line balancing and thought, “Well, that is just for big bars.” You may have even googled the subject and thought, “Well, I’ll just have another beer.”

Since math is hard after a few pints, here are some suggestions from beer pros that should work out well for most of us (or at least those of us at or around sea level. Sorry, Denver.)

CO2 Gauge Pressure Settings

Because a draft beer system is a closed system, what you put in directly corresponds to what you put out. Setting your CO2 gauge correctly when you tap the keg will prevent both over- and under-carbonation. For most ales (including pale ales, IPAs, ambers, etc.) that come from the brewery with a carbonation volume of about 2.1 to 2.6, you want to set your regulator from about 7 to 13 psi. For lagers, a regulator set between 10 and 14 psi works best. Continental and light pilsners require slightly higher CO2 regulator settings, from 11 to 16 psi. Wheat beers, Belgian beers, and common American sours are generally the most carbonated beers, requiring about 15 to 20 psi. Stouts should be poured with beer gas and a stout faucet, using a nitrogen regulator at about 35 to 38 psi.

pressures co2 beer types

No matter what beer you are drinking, following the simple suggestions from CO2 regulator settings should provide you with the right mouthfeel for the beer.

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18 Comments

  • Douglas H Granstrand December 31, 2017 @ 2:03pm

    I disagree with the above information.
    1. – Run blended gas – CO2 60% / N 40% on all non-stout beers & set keg pressure at 30-34 PSI.
    2. – Run blended gas – CO2 25% / N 75% on Stouts & Heavy Porters & set keg pressure at 20-22 PSI.
    3. – Never run straight Nitrogen. Even Guinness will go flat eventually.
    4. – Use the best beer line. I use 1/4″ to 3/16″ E J Beverage Dbl Barrier line for perfect taste.
    5 – Clean lines ever two weeks at most. Using 1/4″ to 3/16″ line reduces beer waste by 2/3’s compared to 3/8″ line.
    6 – Use flow-control faucets to fine-tune pressure at the faucet.

  • Justin May 29, 2018 @ 11:40am

    So would 12 psi be perfect for everything but sours? Triple tap setup with manifold and single regulator.

    • Chris April 5, 2019 @ 4:29pm

      Hi Justin,

      The PSI is dependent on the carbonation level of the beer. If you buy a keg, that is often provided by the brewery, but 10-14 PSI works for most beers. If you’re experiencing pour issues, Perlick Flow Control faucets can help!

    • lily1987 March 13, 2020 @ 4:10am

      12 PSI is really too small

  • howard October 20, 2018 @ 4:14pm

    do they have a pamphelet showing and telling the problems and sulutions for pouring beer

    • Chris October 23, 2018 @ 10:25am

      Hi Howard,

      Check out our Draft Beer Troubleshooting Videos, they can help with just about any issue you may be experiencing. Hope that helps, cheers!

    • Justin December 19, 2018 @ 11:01pm

      Look up the Draught Beer Quality Manual online and download it. It’s the industry standard for draught system equipment, maintenance, and operation. It also includes quick reference guides for troubleshooting different types of draught systems. It’s only about 90 pages or so, and is available free, online.

  • Dave February 7, 2019 @ 4:30am

    Does anyone know what pressure a 30 litre keg of Canadian Club should be.

    • Darrell July 9, 2019 @ 4:06pm

      It should be consumed

  • Jack April 5, 2019 @ 8:06am

    I need buy your CO2 Gauge Pressure Settings. I need to produce the CO2 gas in the beverage.

    • Chris April 5, 2019 @ 4:05pm

      Hi Jack,

      Apologies but we’re not sure what exact part you’re referring to. If you would like to talk with one of our our draft beer experts at Customer Care, they can be reached at 877.636.3673, Monday through Friday, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm EST. You can also reach out here. They will be able to discuss specifics about your system and answer your questions. Cheers!

  • david August 10, 2019 @ 6:58am

    How do you setup the gas if im serving bitter and lager and they need different psi please

  • Josh August 20, 2019 @ 10:31pm

    I have a 5gal Hangar 24 on a standard Insignia kegorator. I had it at about 9 PSI and yeah, that didn’t work. Is the suggested PSI 15? Or something else? What else can I do to get proper foam? I’m dying here!!!

  • Jason Webster November 21, 2019 @ 11:33am

    Hello Gentlemen,

    I have added 2kg or brewing sugar, 500g of this extra malt flavour, roasted and grinded up 1kg of cocoa nibs to my brewing keg along with this simply stout kit… I have placed the keg in the chest freezer with a thermostat regulating the temperature at 18.3°c.

    My gravity is 1060 so it will be around 8% when its done.

    My only request is that once I move my chocolate stout from my primary to my secondary in 1 month time…

    It’s a pressurised keg where I can pump little C02 cartridges what have 16g inside…

    Now do I pump 2 cartridges into my keg and leave it for a couple of days to dilute into the stout or do I use just 1?

    Text me the answer please on whatsapp, all help is appreciated: 07983210144

  • chishiri shepherd January 30, 2020 @ 6:44am

    · Carbonation gauges – 0-100psi inner scale and 0-7bar on the outside, Fitting 3/8 inches fitting

    · Carbonation gauge clamps see attached, 3/8 inches fitting

  • Jamie Lee Bell January 30, 2020 @ 7:40pm

    I have a 5 gallon pony keg and I cannot get the foam to stop!! I have tried 8,10,12,15 levels of carbonation and still foam. The beer is a Blonde Ale local craft beer. Temp on frig is 37. Even adjusting the flow control does not help the foam. Do kegs sometimes have foam and will not allow a perfect pour??

  • Dan March 13, 2020 @ 4:24pm

    Am i reading this wrong, but doesn’t the PSI vary depending on the temp of the keg? i have keg of ale in the basement at 65 degrees and from what ive read that the PSI should be over 20psi. Or am I missing something with this page?

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