Does carapils fix head problems?

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rocketman768

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So, every beer I've brewed thus far has been fairly carbonated, but the head just disappears too quick. I don't use a dishwasher or soap for that matter to clean out my bottles (just a soak in 1 tbsp bleach per gallon of water). I used a pound of flaked oats in my last batch (mashed, 153F) and thought that would clear up the head retention problem, but no.

Next up for me is an American Amber Ale, and was considering trying carapils. First, did carapils fix your head problems (if not, then what)? Second, is carapils in the Amber Ale ok? Third...tips?
 

brewmasterpa

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dextrin malt (cara pils) will add head retention to your beer. add .25 lbs to a 10 lbs grain bill and this should alleviate head retention issues.
 

menschmaschine

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I believe it's a bit more complex than that. I think it's possible that Cara-pils helps with foam stability and worth a try, but I don't think it's guaranteed to. Plus it will add unfermentables, so that's something to be mindful of when setting mash temperatures. I always look at Duvel to have the king of all beer heads. All they use is Pilsener malt and dextrose. But Moortgat uses a variety of Pilsener malts from different sources and malted to a specific modification and, therefore, protein levels (of various sizes).

My point is that with any base malt, there should be a mash schedule that can maximize foam stability for that malt. So, it's good to have an idea of the malt's protein profile so steps can be taken to create an ideal mash schedule for specific fermentability and protein levels in regards to foam stability.

Back to Cara-pils... it depends on what the protein profile is in the Cara-pils. Certain rest temperatures could further break down these proteins and negate the foam stability... or they could contain large proteins that need to be broken down further in order to have the foam stability benefits.

It's an interesting topic anyway... I'll have to look further into this.
 

Brew-Happy

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This might be elementary (still learning a lot here), but I just cracked a young pale ale last night that was at room temp. It had way more head than the chilled one the night before.

So, your serving temp would also seem to control the head amount right after pouring. The cooler the beer the more CO2 that will dissolve into the beer.

Just an observation that I noticed when I warm my bottled beers up before opening and pouring.
 

brewmasterpa

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that is one reason to use small amounts, you dont want to add unfermentables, but ive always had good luck using dextrin malt for foam stability. of course, i generally use adjuncts and specialty malts in my brews as well. ive never done a pure malt brew. this could confirm mensch's suspicion that the protein breakdown of the base grains could have a great effect on whether the dextrin malt will contribute or not. it is something ive never really researched, ive just always utilized either cara pils or flaked wheat and always had great results.
 
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rocketman768

rocketman768

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Well, I know you want a lot of higher-weight proteins, so this means avoiding mash steps that break down proteins (protein rests or low saccharification rest temps).
 

menschmaschine

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Well, I know you want a lot of higher-weight proteins, so this means avoiding mash steps that break down proteins (protein rests or low saccharification rest temps).
Sort of... I think they're more mid-to large size proteins. If they're too big, they will combine with polyphenols to produce chill haze. So, if the malt had a large proportion of large sized proteins, you'd actually want to break them down a little. This would be indicated on the malt analysis by a high total protein (>12%) combined with a low to mediocre soluble nitrogen ratio (mid to upper 30s).

But for most base malts of decent modification and no outstanding levels of proteins, etc., one can do a "protein/saccharification rest" (upper 130s to lower 140s°F)... which is then followed by a sacch./dextrin rest (upper 150s or lower 160s°F)... or by a short protein rest in the 120s°F, but it's a debate as to which is better (short-time traditional protein rest or regular-time protein/sacch. rest). Personally, I've had good results with the protein/sacch. rests followed by sacch./dextrin rests.
 

Yooper

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You said you don't use soap or the dishwasher on the bottles, but what about the glassware? If you've used that much flaked oats, you should be getting a good head. Maybe there is some Jet Dry or some soap residue on the glass?
 
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rocketman768

rocketman768

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You said you don't use soap or the dishwasher on the bottles, but what about the glassware? If you've used that much flaked oats, you should be getting a good head. Maybe there is some Jet Dry or some soap residue on the glass?
No, I don't think so. The commercial brews I pour into my glasses have large lengthy heads. We don't have a dishwasher in the house that would use jet-dry.
 

brewmasterpa

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perhaps that explains my chill haze on barley base beers with low adjunct content. i usually just do a single infusion mash ranging anywhere from 146-156 depending on how dry or malty i want it. when i do a protein rest, i do it on brews with high adjunct or wheat content and thats at 122, then decoct and infuse at between 146-156. of course, on these brews, you cant tell if youve got chill haze. and mensch, i never capitalize. ha! never never never
 

menschmaschine

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perhaps that explains my chill haze on barley base beers with low adjunct content. i usually just do a single infusion mash ranging anywhere from 146-156 depending on how dry or malty i want it. when i do a protein rest, i do it on brews with high adjunct or wheat content and thats at 122, then decoct and infuse at between 146-156. of course, on these brews, you cant tell if youve got chill haze. and mensch, i never capitalize. ha! never never never
You must be like the others! Don't make me become your robotic overlord and force you to use the Shift key!

Seriously, protein-related rests are generally unnecessary with most of the malt we get. But when having foam issues, being intimate with your malt can help correct it (malt analysis).;) I try to be as intimate as possible with my malt... that way I can get more head.
 

SpanishCastleAle

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Just don't let the yeast get jealous because you are ignoring them...or you'll just be right back at 'no head for you'.;)

Things said in jest...are half-meant.;)
 
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rocketman768

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There's more to it than just adding proteins to your beer. If you have fermentation issues, you can add all the proteins you like and it won't help. This is a great article, including tests you can do to see where the problem lies....

Brew Your Own: The How-To Homebrew Beer Magazine - Story Index - Head Retention - Getting Good Beer Foam: Techniques
Hm, thanks for that. I have a question though...the article says foam positive proteins can get "used up." The statement is directed at people who shake their kegs, but what about shaking the fermenter when you aerate? I always do that and usually get several inches of foam.
 

Denny

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That _can_ be the same issue. But, in my experience, it isn't a huge issue if you have good foam characteristics in the first place. For instance, I usually shake all my kegs to carb them, but it doesn't seem to affect head formation and retention. I assume (yeah, that's dangerous!) that the reason is that I have lots of foam positive elements in there in the first place, so I can afford to lose some!

BTW, the example of Duvel in that article is great! Duvel has the kind of faom most homebrewers would kill for, but uses nothing other than pils malt and sugar! No wheat, no crapils, no flaked barley.....makes the point very effectively!
 

menschmaschine

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That _can_ be the same issue. But, in my experience, it isn't a huge issue if you have good foam characteristics in the first place. For instance, I usually shake all my kegs to carb them, but it doesn't seem to affect head formation and retention. I assume (yeah, that's dangerous!) that the reason is that I have lots of foam positive elements in there in the first place, so I can afford to lose some!

BTW, the example of Duvel in that article is great! Duvel has the kind of faom most homebrewers would kill for, but uses nothing other than pils malt and sugar! No wheat, no crapils, no flaked barley.....makes the point very effectively!
I have questions about "using up" foam. I'm not saying I don't believe it, I'm just saying I would like to understand why. Do the proteins change or get denatured somehow when exposed to oxygen? My first instinct was that they would just fall back into the beer and they wouldn't be lost, but this isn't the first time I've heard this, so there may be more to it.

As for Duvel, Moortgat has that beer down to a science, literally. They use several (3?, 4?) varieties of pilsner malt. They specify to the maltsters exactly how they want it modified. Then they use specific mash step temps and techniques to get the most out of the right proteins. Additionally, the beer has like 4.0 volumes of CO2, which increases the head upon pouring. So, in some ways Duvel is a great example of foam stability, but in other ways it's a terrible one for homebrewers because they have brewery scientists on staff to perfect their beer.
 
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rocketman768

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I have questions about "using up" foam. I'm not saying I don't believe it, I'm just saying I would like to understand why. Do the proteins change or get denatured somehow when exposed to oxygen? My first instinct was that they would just fall back into the beer and they wouldn't be lost, but this isn't the first time I've heard this, so there may be more to it.
Notice that they also say in the beginning...

The scientists put beer in glass cylinders and blew nitrogen bubbles through the beer to create beer foam. This foam was then collected and dissolved in a beer and water mixture and generated again by blowing more bubbles through it.
Is this article internally inconsistent?
 

ChemE

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So just to update this thread with my latest results, I wanted to brew a beer with >30 minute head retention so I used 0.5# of carapils in a 5.5 gallon batch and mashed at 159F. Because of the foam positive/negative article in BYO I made a proper sized starter for my OG and volume and carefully controlled the fermentation temperatures. The beer managed to keep some head for 60 minutes which is a huge success in my book.
 
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