Too much head on brown ales

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by AC, Oct 10, 2018.

  1. AC

    AC New Member

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    I have recently been working on a brown ale recipe and have brewed several slightly different versions (all grain). Each of them has turned out OK, but all of them have had way too much head when pouring from my kegerator. I can pour only half a pint or so and then have to settle the glass for several minutes before trying again. Pouring a pint can take three or four goes and creates a fair bit of mess and waste.

    The issue seems to be just too much foaming on pouring. Actual carbonation of the beer itself is moderate and once the initial pour settles down, head retention on the beer is good - but not necessarily any more than I would expect or see on my other beers.

    I generally brew English bitters and IPAs and these pour really well through my current kegerator set up. The only difference I can see is that my brown ales all contain chocolate malt, which I have never previously used in my beers.

    My last brown ale recipe was:

    NZ pale ale malt 88.4%
    Australian light chocolate malt 5%
    UK amber malt 3.6%
    UK medium crystal malt 3%

    One version had 3.5% chocolate and another 7%, and they were also problematic to pour.

    I keg all my beers direct from primary, connect them to CO2 at 13 psi and leave them at 2 degrees Celsius for four to six weeks prior to drinking. I then pour them at the same temperature and pressure (2 degrees C, 13 psi) through three metres of 5mm ID beer line. I have a font fan on my kegerator so second pours are slightly better than the first one, but are still a real challenge.

    As stated above, my problem is not the kegerator setup, which otherwise pours perfectly. The issue is my brown ales are pretty much unpourable in comparison with my other beers.

    Can anybody shed some light on what is going on?
     
  2. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like a line pressure problem but you say your other two pour fine at same pressure. I cant see anything that can cause chocolate malt to contribute crazy foaming wheat carapils caramalt yes.
    I run ID 5mm line at 4.5 meters average pour PSI is 10 PSI and that gives 10mm head give or take depending on style.

    Hope someone has the answer cheers mate
     
  3. oliver

    oliver Well-Known Member

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    #3 oliver, Oct 10, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
    how much beer is going into the keg? and what size keg do you use?

    Going on a hunch here, at work when we will only put 1500 gallons into the 2000 gallon brite tank, it is likely to over carbonate because of the significant headspace in the tank.

    The same principle applies with 5 gallon kegs. The carbonation will be drastically different if you fill your keg with 4.5 gallons vs. filling it with or 3.5 gallons. are your dark beers boiled off more, and not enough volume goes into the keg? just guessing here.
     
  4. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Seems to me that 13 psi is quite a lot, even for 10 feet of line. And if the kegs sit at 13 lbs of pressure all the time, the beer is almost certain to overcarbonate. It may well be that your brown ales are more heady because of dark malt, etc and English beers tend to be served a little less carbonated, anyway.
     
  5. Ozarks Mountain Brew

    Staff Member

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    I've found that chocolate malt tends to foam more than most
     
  6. AC

    AC New Member

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    Yes, good point. I think I could probably add an additional 1 - 1.5 metres of line to my current arrangement as per Trialben's suggestion. This would slow the beer generally and might help with the brown ales in particular. I am also considering dropping my carbonation pressure to 11 psi. I do like my English beers only moderately carbonated but have found the recommendation of 8 psi for the style (as per "carbonation charts" on various web sites) way too low, even for my English friends.

    @oliver, yes, that is my experience too. I fill 19 litre cornelius kegs pretty much to the top when I keg. Carbonation does increase as the beer volume drops and headspace increases, but not dramatically. As stated, my current setup generally pours ok.

    @ozarks, yes, I am coming to that conclusion.
     
  7. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    I have mine around 12psi with 10' lines but I keep my beer at 3C too and so far it's spot on for the carbonation I personally like.
     
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