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Gustatorian

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I'm having issues with head formation in my beers. When they're being poured from the faucet, the head rarely builds. However, if I swirl the beer in my glass, a decent head will form and persist moderately.

I suspect it could be from the draft side of things and nothing intrinsically wrong with the beers, but I need a confirmation before I do anything.

My tube length (standard tubing) from keg to faucet is 6 feet. From the middle of the keg to the faucet, the height difference is approximately 18 inches.

Would shortening the length of tubing increase the head when poured?
 

Steveg229

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What type of beers? And all the same head issue?
What temp is the kegerator at and what serving pressure?
Have you tried pouring the last 1/3rd to 1/4 of the beer down the center of the glass?
 
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Gustatorian

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What type of beers? And all the same head issue?
What temp is the kegerator at and what serving pressure?
Have you tried pouring the last 1/3rd to 1/4 of the beer down the center of the glass?
chest freezer converted with a wooden collar installed where the faucets come out. Serving temp is 40ºF at 12 PSI. Pour down center of glass the entire time with minimal foam.
 

Yooper

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First, try this- moisten a beer glass inside and around the rim and sprinkle with table salt. Use your hand to "scour" the glass, getting it all over. Then rinse well with warm water. Dry with a lint-free towel, and then try again. That salt scrub reduces any residue from soap or a dishwasher (especially Jet-Dry) and gets it bar clean.

If after that you have little head or foam retention, it is probably recipe related.

You don't want to shorten your tubing, as it's already short and pouring it faster won't help. Well, it will help it foam but then the c02 is in the head and the beer will be less carbonated. A foamy beer won't have good head retention.
 

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You don't want to shorten your tubing, as it's already short and pouring it faster won't help. Well, it will help it foam but then the c02 is in the head and the beer will be less carbonated. A foamy beer won't have good head retention.
I'm not so sure! The head is already caused by CO2 coming out of suspension, so there's a "baseline" carbonation loss that we expect, and it seems like the CO2 loss needed to make the head doesn't affect mouthfeel much. It shouldn't matter much how he reaches that baseline: if the head isn't building in the first place, the CO2 is likely remaining in suspension.

The reason I think that is because swirling the glass apparently helps. If there was a lack of head-forming proteins or presence of something that reduces surface tension and kills the head, swirling wouldn't do much.

What I do when I'm not pouring enough head is simple... pour farther. Lower the glass a couple of inches toward the end of the pour and it'll be right as rain.
 
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Gustatorian

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I'm not so sure! The head is already caused by CO2 coming out of suspension, so there's a "baseline" carbonation loss that we expect, and it seems like the CO2 loss needed to make the head doesn't affect mouthfeel much. It shouldn't matter much how he reaches that baseline: if the head isn't building in the first place, the CO2 is likely remaining in suspension.

The reason I think that is because swirling the glass apparently helps. If there was a lack of head-forming proteins or presence of something that reduces surface tension and kills the head, swirling wouldn't do much.

What I do when I'm not pouring enough head is simple... pour farther. Lower the glass a couple of inches toward the end of the pour and it'll be right as rain.
I cut my draft lines to 3 feet (from 5 feet). After adjusting the PSI on my regulators to push the appropriate amount of CO2 onto the liquid in the keg and appropriate for the temp within the kegerator, my beer pours great.
 
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Gustatorian

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Without even knowing what those "appropriates" might be, consistently good pours using 3 foot dispensing lines = an extreme outlier solution.
Even if using flow control faucets.

http://www.mikesoltys.com/2012/09/17/determining-proper-hose-length-for-your-kegerator/

Cheers!
I don't think it was a solution. I think balancing the pressure on the kegs at the appropriate temp made the biggest effect. I pared down my lines from 5 to 3 feet after reading the BDQM and applying their equations to my own keezer. It was definitely a secondary measure for helping the system, but it gave me more peace of mind applying the laws of physics.
 

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I'd love to see what the pressure and temperature would have to be to make a 3 ft line work myself.
OK here's my math, tell me if I'm wrong, I very well could be:

If the temperature within the beer is 38ºF and I want to keep my beer at roughly 2.4 volumes, I would need 10 PSI per a standard carbonation chart. I add 0.25 PSI to this because of where I am (Austin, TX). The city is roughly 500 ft above elevation and 1 PSI is needed for every 2000 feet.

So pressure needed is 10.25 PSI to maintain that CO2 volume within the liquid.

I subtract the static and dynamic resistance from this pressure to balance the system.

Static: My static resistance is .645 PSI (0.43 PSI per foot increase from middle of keg to my faucets. So 0.43 PSI X 1.5 feet = 0.645)

10.25 PSI pressure - 0.645 PSI static resistance = 9.605.

I need to make up the rest of the resistance in the tubing.

Dynamic: I have vinyl 3/16" tubing = 3 lbs/ft. 9.605 PSI is roughly 3.2 feet.
 

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Gustatorian

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No, it isn't 3 psi/foot. Not even close, at the pressures we run.
That's an unbelievably wide spread mistake - I wager all but one line length calculator makes the same error.

This one gets the physics right...
http://www.mikesoltys.com/2012/09/17/determining-proper-hose-length-for-your-kegerator/

So, that your solution works remains a mystery...

Cheers!
Ha, not sure why it works! My keezer is a bit odd though. I keep my Johnson Control at 57ºF and, oddly, the liquid in my kegs pour between 38-40ºF. Any idea as to why that happens?

Thanks for the link, I'll read through it today!
 

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Ha, not sure why it works! My keezer is a bit odd though. I keep my Johnson Control at 57ºF and, oddly, the liquid in my kegs pour between 38-40ºF. Any idea as to why that happens?

Thanks for the link, I'll read through it today!
Sounds like a bad/out of calibration temperature controller.
 
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Gustatorian

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Sounds like a bad/out of calibration temperature controller.
It's rather odd. I have another thermometer in the keezer that reads what the johnson control is set at (57ºF). I have a fan blowing as well to break up temperature stratification. Not sure why the liquid coming out of the kegs are at perfect temp...
 

jmcquesten

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It's rather odd. I have another thermometer in the keezer that reads what the johnson control is set at (57ºF). I have a fan blowing as well to break up temperature stratification. Not sure why the liquid coming out of the kegs are at perfect temp...
So it's a freezer, not a fridge? If your kegs are touching the inside walls of the freezer, it could be that it's just the temperature of the coil when it's running conducting the cold. I think that the coil in the walls runs at the same temperature (regardless of what it's set at) until it reaches it's setpoint. So if the refrigerant runs through the coil at -20° in the walls of the freezer, and the kegs are touching the walls, they could be getting colder than the air temperature which is probably reaching the setpoint. Where is the probe located? Maybe try taping it to the side of a keg, then insulate the probe from the air temp.
 
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Gustatorian

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So it's a freezer, not a fridge? If your kegs are touching the inside walls of the freezer, it could be that it's just the temperature of the coil when it's running conducting the cold. I think that the coil in the walls runs at the same temperature (regardless of what it's set at) until it reaches it's setpoint. So if the refrigerant runs through the coil at -20° in the walls of the freezer, and the kegs are touching the walls, they could be getting colder than the air temperature which is probably reaching the setpoint. Where is the probe located? Maybe try taping it to the side of a keg, then insulate the probe from the air temp.
It's a freezer. The kegs aren't touching the walls, but they're damn close. Probe is about 6 inches from the bottom of the freezer. I can send you a photo of the keezer if that will help. I thought about taping to a keg and insulating, but was always worried about freezing my beer, due to the massive temp difference between controller set point and the beer being poured. If I insulate the probe and tape it to a keg, I assume the ambient temp within the freezer will get warmer (due to the set point being 57ºF), from there I can slowly drop the set point on the controller to get the beers to appropriate serving temps, correct?
 
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