Too much head on a saison

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Duchifat, Apr 19, 2016.

  1. Duchifat

    Duchifat Member

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    I brewed a saison using:
    Pilsener malt 90%
    Wheat malt 5%
    Unmalted spelt 5%
    Acidulated malt 1%

    I ground the unmalted spelt quite fine and just added it as such to the mash tun (i.e. no cereal mash). After bottle conditioning for 2 w I was satisfied with the taste and carbonation of the beer. However, the head turned out to be a problem: the bottles did not gush at all when opened but when poured into a glass, even very carefully, a very thick layer of foam was formed. If it would have been 1/4 of the amount, I would have been happy but what I got was just too much.
    I did not do a protein rest when mashing. Is this necessary with 5% wheat malt and 5% unmalted spelt and could this explain the excessive head formation? Other explanations?

    TIA,
    Michael
     
  2. oliver

    oliver Well-Known Member

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    how were you pouring your bottles?? Sometimes when i pour saisons i buy they have huge heads, not explainable but very drinkable still.
     
  3. Duchifat

    Duchifat Member

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    Thank you Oliver.
    I am pouring the beer at 5 degrees Celsius very very carefully along the side of a tilted beer glass at room temperature. Is this what you mean by your question?
     
  4. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    I don't think the amount of wheat would do that, but not sure on the spelt.

    Is it a long lasting head or is there just a lot of it? If it's long lasting, then it's probably extra proteins in there from the wheat and/or spelt.

    However, and I'm just going off what other people have said here, saison yeasts take some time to finish. Perhaps you had bottled a little too soon, and the extra priming sugar over carbed it. If there's just a lot of head, then I'd lean this way for the culprit
     
  5. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Spelt is just wild wheat, similar protein content.
     
  6. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    All right. Little of both then is my guess
     
  7. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I think JCMc hit it: Bottled too soon. Saison yeasts are slow but thorough - they tend to finish below 1.010. Even a couple of extra points not fermented out will result in overcarbonation. I've done it, likely all of us who bottle have, bottled a couple of days too soon and wound up with beers you can't pour because of the foam. There's just not enough wheat in your brew for excess protein to account for it. Process of elimination, it has to be sugar, either too much priming sugar or some unfermented sugar in the beer. Curiosity: How long did the beer ferment, what was your FG and how much priming sugar did you use?
     
  8. Duchifat

    Duchifat Member

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    Thank you all for the input and questions.

    I used Belle Saison Danstar Yeast.
    OG 1.046
    FG 1.002
    Fermented at 30C for 8 days.
    Primed with 163g table sugar (20L batch).

    But I was wondering. Could the only symptom of overcarbonation be a big, stiff head? wouldn't I feel overcarbonation on the tongue? Drinking the beer is fine; very similar to a strong golden ale I brew. I wouldn't have it less carbonated from a drinking point of view. It's just the head..
    by the way, it persists for quite a while. I just don't give it the chance...
     
  9. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    totally thinking off the cuff here, but maybe there's no bite is because the CO2 hasn't been fully pushed into solution? since it's not fully in there, it's easier to expel. no idea if this is possible or not, but it would explain the look of overcarb but not the taste

    you said it was only 2 weeks in the bottle? maybe try one again in a few weeks, if you can it that long :D
     
  10. Duchifat

    Duchifat Member

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    It's been 7 weeks since I bottled. Have 1left.. :D
     
  11. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    There you go, drink one more and the problem is solved! ;-)

    Another thing that springs, if you can call my thought processes springing, to mind is protein. Pilsner malt has lots of it and benefits generally from a protein rest - 122 degrees for fifteen to twenty minutes. Any haze problems with the beer?

    Oh, forgot to ask you, what is the maximum temperature the beer reached during secondary fermentation (after primary was done)? That has an effect on carbonation as well.
     
  12. Duchifat

    Duchifat Member

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    Thanks Nosybear, I'll take that advice...
    The beer was not really hazy yet not crystal clear. I thought it was ok for a Saison.

    Glad you asked about the maximum temperature! I almost forgot: Somewhere during the secondary fermentation I heated the carboy at night with a belt heater. I put the carboy in a metal barrel with water and I put the belt around the barrel. I set it too high; it reached 36 C and stayed that way for a good few hours. I was sure I ruined the beer but SG kept dropping and the beer turned out ok. Could this be the reason for the excessive head?

    You mentioned the protein rest. Is there a way to do it with very basic equipment? Up until now I have been doing a single temperature infusion in a mash tun I made from a beverage cooler. Do I need to move on to more advanced equipment for a protein rest?
     
  13. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    Depending on how big the cooler is and how much grain and water you'd need, you could just add some heated water to bring it up from protein rest to mash temps.

    You might need to play around with the numbers and put in the bare minimum of water for the protein rest, but you shouldn't need to get anything else.
    Fwiw I do biab on the stove. A cheap nylon bag might be a happy medium for you to do a protein rest in your kettle and then do the real mash in the cooler
     
  14. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I do stepped mashes in my 10-gallon cooler mash tun with no problem - mash in at 122 degrees, add boiling water - mine's at about 200 degrees due to my 6,000' altitude - to bring the mash up to the main rest, lauter your first runnings then batch sparge. Works like a champ! Another way would be to use a decoction if you get too much volume the first time around - pull some of the liquid off, boil it and add it back to raise the temperature.

    Good luck with it!
     
  15. Duchifat

    Duchifat Member

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    Thanks a lot jmcnamara and Nosybear for the great advice.
    Planning a protein rest for my next Saison!
     

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