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Head Question

Steve Gyldenvand

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This is a photo of The point IPA I bottled 5 weeks ago. That's about 6 oz. poured gently into a pint glass. Can anyone tell me why this beer has had such an amazing head, ever since I first opened one 3 weeks ago? I've used the same glasses, refrigerated at the same temps, pretty much done everything by the same criteria as every other beer I've brewed in the droid, but this one has always had an almost explosive head on it. I can't even think about pouring a full 12 oz. bottle in a pint glass all at once. I'm sure it's inherent in the recipe somehow, but I'd really like to know if it's something I can replicate in other brews by tweaking the recipe. Anybody have any insights?


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I get a lot of variances on this issue also.  Some recipes just produce a good head and some are weak on that score, although tasty to drink.  Indeed, some brews are very frothy.  I believe these need to be given less bottling sugar (once identified).

One way to improve head retention and mouthfeel is to add some maltodextrin to the wort at brewing time.  Some suggestions are:

  • 50g - 80g (from Captain Three Droids)
  • 80g - 120g from another reliable source.

The Captain recommended mixing the maltodextrin in a small volume of warm sterile water and adding it to the wort.  I have not tried just throwing it into the rest of the powders in a BrewPrint - but I can't see why that wouldn't work as well.

I have used this practice only a few times and found some improvement in head retention, but I have yet not calibrated amounts with results.

It would be good to start collecting data on this ingredient.

Happy brewing. 😀

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  • 2 weeks later...

So here is another look at the incredible head of foam on this batch of The Point IPA. You can see the head has topped out the pint glass, and this was on a second pour from this bottle; no way to get a full 12 oz bottle into a pint glass all at once. Meanwhile, back in the "empty" bottle, there remains a lot of foam that is so thick it can hardly be poured. This beer definitely requires active attention throughout the opening/pouring/drinking process! Without really thinking about it, I put one in the cooler yesterday when my bride and I went to cool off in our pond, where we drink right out of the bottle. I cannot stress this enough: this is something you cannot do with this beer. Upon removing the cap, it begins erupting foam, running down the side of the bottle like lava from Mount Kilauea, forcing you to sip continuously through the first half bottle.

For the record, this batch was brewed using ingredients copied straight from the Brewprint, and bottled in 12 oz longnecks with 4 Brewer's Best conditioning tablets, which is their recommendation for medium carbonation. I have used as many as 5 tabs, as I did when bottling Cooper's Sparkling Ale a couple months ago, with satisfactory "normal" results. As it happens, I'm bottling another batch of The Point today, and I'm going to use 3 tablets. I will update here with results.



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I think you are on the right track, using less priming sugar to reduce the foam - and keeping a record.  This should lead to an optimum.  I have had similar problems with some brews.  I will start keeping more detailed records.

Another approach is maltodextrin.  I wonder if it could stabilize the over-foaming.  It is supposed to help head retention.

A related problem is a brew that reacts violently to the bottling sugar.  Today, I bottled and kegged a batch of West Coast Pale Ale.  The taste at bottling was good and the FG was 1.004.  I primed the one-pint bottles with 1.5 tsp of dextrose but I had to be nimble getting them capped because they wanted to froth up immediately after the dextrose was dropped in.  Apparently, Y1 is a strong yeast which finished off the available malt sugars and quickly reacted to the priming sugar.  The remainder of the brew went into a 5L mini-keg and was primed with 1.5 TBSP of dextrose.  I was able to insert the rubber bung without a problem.  However, I think I will lower the kegging temperature to 60 deg F for this brew next time.  I recall that the rate of biological processes doubles for each 10 deg F increase in temperature.  Therefore, lowering the temperature a bit may slow down the reaction until I can get the cap on.


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As I mentioned above, I was preparing to bottle another batch of The Point IPA shortly after posting my comment. I think it's worth noting that, when I tasted it prior to bottling, it had a good amount of carbonation already going on, right out of the droid. If someone had served it to me that way, I'd have thought it was a little flat, but definitely drinkable.

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Hmm.   That sounds like the droid ended the fermentation stage a little early.  I wonder what your SG was at that point.  My understanding is that the droid uses the temperature differentials between a high-positioned and a low-positioned sensor.  I suspect that the difference between the sensor temperatures will be a small fraction of a degree.  The monitoring lasts about an hour each day after several days of fermentation.

I have two droids and have repeated brews on each of them with no discernable difference in results, so I think calibration is not an issue.


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