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Do Brewdog use CO2?

UPDATED after comments from our readers. Short answer: who knows how the hell Brewdog are carbonating their beers.

Every day, between five and ten unique visitors find our blog with the search term ‘do brewdog use Co2’. No kidding.

Because it pains us to imagine their disappointed little faces when they discover that we don’t actually answer that question anywhere, we decided it was time we did.

We take it that the question is really (a) “Do Brewdog artificially carbonate their beer?” or (b) “Are Brewdog’s beers ‘real ale’?”

To which the answers are (a) yes sort of, maybe and (b) no hardly any.

It seems most of Brewdog’s beers are carbonated in closed fermentors; have most of their yeast filtered out; and are then ‘topped up’ with CO2 to get to the right level of carbonation. All of Brewdog’s beers are carbonated using carbon dioxide injected into the beer.

They made a fuss about ceasing production of cask do not currently produce any ‘real ale’ — that is beer which is conditioned (carbonated) ‘naturally’ in the bottle or cask by yeast remaining in the beer — but do produce a very small number of limited edition beers which are conditioned naturally in the bottle. Those are technically ‘real ales’, we guess, though they wouldn’t like to label them as such…

Does that make their beer better or worse? Does the use of some added CO2 make their beer worse? Can. Of. Worms.

We also get occasional visitors trying to find out if John Smith’s smooth is real ale: it isn’t, but John Smith’s Cask (rarely seen) is.

18 replies on “Do Brewdog use CO2?”

John Smiths Cask was really bloody awful ale, the last time I was foolish enough to try it.

Shouldn’t you be asking if BrewDog are actually “Craft”, to generate some novel and insightful discussion in the comments?

But wait. Didn’t James Watt come up with the idea of ‘Craft Beer Credibility’? Shurely, it’s for him to decide if any of us is ‘craft’? 😉

Brewdog *define* craft brewing in the UK. What craft is and whether it’s good thing is the key question.

My understanding was that Brewdog ferment/condition their beers under pressure so the carbonation is produced ‘naturally’ at the brewery during fermentation rather than being force-carbonated using extraneous CO2.

Though of course the beers are then served under pressure (and I’d guess they may tinker a little with force-carbonation at the brewery if the carbonation level for a particular beer isn’t quite right).

It is a mixture. The beers are naturally conditioned in tank then topped up to the desired level for keg and bottle with extraneous gas. At least this is what they were telling people at the brewery in December 2010.

Its likely that Barm’s point is true, as that is what we have done with our first 5 keg products.

We ferment and condition in sealed vessels, and therefore ‘natural’ carbonation occurs. We add no further carbonation in most cases, but if necessary top up if carbonation is lost during DE filtration.

When you keykeg there is also no carbon-dioxide in contact with the beer. So in my view working to the CAMRA spec of real ale, our keykeg products (and probably some of Brewdogs) are real ales!

“It is a mixture. The beers are naturally conditioned in tank then topped up to the desired level for keg and bottle with extraneous gas. At least this is what they were telling people at the brewery in December 2010.”

And then they get another big bunch of C02 in the pub. Remarkably soluble in beer is CO2 in a non vented system.

Does that make their beer better or worse? Can. Of. Worms.

Not necessarily, as long as you can base what you say on evidence – which is harder these days, now that we don’t get the chance to taste both. I’ve had Edge, 5 a.m. Saint, Trashy Blonde and one or two others on handpump and Zeitgeist on gravity. Edge and Trashy were really good, and Saint and Zeitgeist were stupendous, good enough to turn me into a rabid BrewDog fanboy for a while (ironically enough). I’ve since had Saint and Zeitgeist in bottle and keg forms. They weren’t bad; the bottle version in both cases was a bit boring – I wouldn’t buy them again – but the keg was quite interesting. They were a pale shadow of what they were like on cask, though.

Ed: I agree keykeg has possibilities that “ordinary” kegs doesn’t. Most keg beer isn’t keykeg. I’d guess most BD beer isn’t keykeg.

Apparently so – “making them very suitable for ageing and collecting” [sic].

Do BD ever do anything without an eye to the main chance?

Who cares where the carbonation comes from. Carbon dioxide is carbon dioxide, only CAMRA would have you believe otherwise.

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