Excess head in IPAs

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BlueHouseBrewhaus

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I pretty much give all my brews a minimum of 3 weeks in the fermenter and have a stabile FG for a week or more so I know incomplete fermentation isn't my problem. However, the hoppier my IPAs the bigger the head I get. I use a priming calculator and carefully measure my priming sugar. I usually bottle at about 2.4 vol (no, I do not keg). None of my other beers do this even when carbed at 2.6 vol or higher. Once I get into DIPA territory, it doesn't matter how slowly and gently I pour or if it's been in the fridge for a week or a month. The head overflows before the bottle is 3/4 empty.

The one thing these all have on common is that they are all dry hopped with anywhere from 2 to 4 oz. I have seen a few posts that support the idea that hop particles left in the beer from dry hopping create nucleation points for CO2 to attach to and create the excess head. I dry hop with pellets in nylon hop bags and cold crash for about 48 hours before bottling but that doesn't seem to make much difference.

I've never used gelatin or finings before but I'm considering it for the DIPA I currently have in the fermenter. Am I missing something? Is the "nucleation point" issue a real thing? Has anyone else had success with using finings to address a similar issue?

OK, let the head jokes commence.
 

Rickybobby17b

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I've never had that problem with my bottles, but on geletin or fining agents after your cold crash add geletin stirred in 150° F water and give it a few hours to do its thing and all those hop particles will fall out of suspension. Some say that aroma and hop flavor is diminished but I haven't found that to be true. So it's one way to test your theory that the particles are what are creating too much head
 
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BlueHouseBrewhaus

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Yeah, I think I will try the gelatin. I can't think of what else could cause this since it only ever happens with dry hopped brews. Flavor and aroma are great and it doesn't change over time or ever become gushers so it's not an infection. I'll let you know on a month or so if the gelatin worked or at least helped.
 

oceanic_brew

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I've recently taken to making IPA's pretty steadily and have noticed a huge improvement in head retention and a more dense foam on the beer.

Interesting
 
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BlueHouseBrewhaus

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Yeah, my IPAs have always had the best head retention and lacing of all my beers. It's just a little embarrassing when I tell my friends I should pour their beer for them so I can pour it glacially slowly down the side of the glass to minimize the head.
 

bobeer

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Seeing that you've been a member for a while I'm sure you know that some grains will give you better head retention but I have to ask... Are you using any carapils, flaked barley, oatmeal or wheat in your IPAs? I usually add a little carapils in my lower SRM beers to get nice lacing and head retention. Just a thought...
 

oceanic_brew

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I'd bet there's something going on in the boil with using so much hops.

Regardless of my grain bill I get better head retention. I've gone for the malty and sweet finish and the very dry and crisp IPA's but always see a bigger head with more hops.

Oddly enough the Earl Grey IPA I made for a comp recently had almost no head retention. The bottles had very little foam and the pours from the keg would fizzle down quickly.

I did two ounces in a gallon of hot water and added to secondary.
 
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BlueHouseBrewhaus

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Are you using any carapils, flaked barley, oatmeal or wheat in your IPAs?
Nope. None of the above. Ironically, I will use some of those in my non-IPAs for head retention and not get the head I get with my IPAs.

"Addition of high alpha hops - which will increase bitterness, but also increas isohumulones that enhance head retention"

I never knew that!
This could be it. I tend to use high alpha hops (citra, apollo, mosaic) in my hop stands and dry hops. I will still try the gelatin. I'll be interested to see if it makes a difference.
 

oceanic_brew

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Apparently from what I've just gathered from some reading, during the boil the isohumulones are formed. With dry hop you are going more for the essential oils for flavor and aroma. The particular article I read only pointed towards the isohumulones aiding in foam positive and head retention.
 
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BlueHouseBrewhaus

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So here's a quick update. I bottled my double IPA, "Old 82" (82 IBU, 1082 OG, 8.2 SRM, 8.2% ABV). I cold crashed for 2 days and then added gelatin - 1/2 pack in 1 cup of 80F water to bloom for 20 min then heated to 160F for 10 min and added to the cold beer. Three days later (today) I bottled.

I always cold crash so I wasn't sure if I would notice any difference with the gelatin. Well, I could definitely tell it was a bit clearer but the biggest difference was that the trub didn't disturb as easily when I racked to the bottling bucket. I sort of expected a gelatinous mass of trub but it wasn't that. It just stayed settled better and didn't billow up when disturbed.

I'll check back in a few weeks and let you know if this has solved, or at least lessened, the head issue. It sure did taste and smell good :mug:
 
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BlueHouseBrewhaus

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OK, so here is the update. This is the fourth time I've made this DIPA and it has always been a little hazy even with cold crashing. However, this batch is definitely clearer than the previous ones. It still has an impressive head but I am now able to pour an entire bottle, albeit very slowly, without overflowing the glass. The retention and lacing are still good but the head is now about 1.5 inches instead of 3 or more.

The slight downside, as also reported elsewhere, is that the aroma is noticeably less than the previous brews. Not drastically less but noticeable. Consequently, the feeling of hoppiness is a bit less than before. It doesn't taste like 82 IBUs.

So, I'm undecided as to how to proceed. I love that wonderful hoppy aroma of my DIPA. I don't mind the overzealous head when I'm glacially pouring my own beer. But it's a bit annoying/embarrassing when I feel like I have to babysit the beer and pour it myself for friends and family drinking it so they don't get overflowing suds.

I think I'll live with this batch for a while and decide over time if it is worth using gelatin again.
 

SLFcentralOH

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So here's a quick update. I bottled my double IPA, "Old 82" (82 IBU, 1082 OG, 8.2 SRM, 8.2% ABV). I cold crashed for 2 days and then added gelatin - 1/2 pack in 1 cup of 80F water to bloom for 20 min then heated to 160F for 10 min and added to the cold beer. Three days later (today) I bottled.

I always cold crash so I wasn't sure if I would notice any difference with the gelatin. Well, I could definitely tell it was a bit clearer but the biggest difference was that the trub didn't disturb as easily when I racked to the bottling bucket. I sort of expected a gelatinous mass of trub but it wasn't that. It just stayed settled better and didn't billow up when disturbed.

I'll check back in a few weeks and let you know if this has solved, or at least lessened, the head issue. It sure did taste and smell good :mug:
Like the "82" thing you have going on. My first IPA had a similar, close to "69" thing going on. Would be interested in seeing your recipe. I will share my single "69" if you share your double "82" :D

For what its worth, out of the nearly dozen homebrews I have made and enjoyed, my IPA, without a doubt, had the best head retention, but it was a little hazy.
 
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BlueHouseBrewhaus

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You could probably do a lot more interesting names with "69" than "82" :D For my Old 82 I was going for something fuller and maltier than your typical DIPA so the recipe is a little unorthodox.

12.5 lbs US 2-row
1 lb Munich
1 lb German wheat
1 lb Flaked oats
8.3 oz Caramunich

It is a 90 min boil with 10 oz corn sugar added for the last 15 min.
Bittering with Centennial then late additons of Mosaic and Citra. A hop stand with 4 oz Citra/Mosaic and dry hop with 4 oz Citra/Mosaic. Based on my efficiency, I adjusted the caramunich to hit OG 1082 (hence the oddball 8.3 oz). I adjusted the timing of the hops to hit 82 IBUs.

Mashed at 154F for fuller body.

Fermented at 62 with US-05.

The oats and mash temp give it a silky, full mouthfeel and the caramunich gives it a malty finish. For IPA purists, it's probably sacrilege but it seems to bring out a fuller hop flavor and I like the variety from a standard DIPA.
 
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