Preventing Boil Overs - It's Simple

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BierMuncher

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One thing I know for certain about brewing a clean tasting, clear beer...

You must have a good, hard, rolling boil. It burns off DMS, it promotes better protein break and make most effective utilization of your hops.

I know it first hand in my beers, and the few micro-breweries I've visited have said the same thing. "If it ain't about to boil over...it ain't boiling hard enough."

Problem is...how to prevent boil overs during a hard 60-90 minute boil. I am not going to stand around squirting water into my kettle every 60 seconds. I can blow on the beer and that helps...but again... 2 or 3 minutes and I'm turning blue.

So last night I decide to let something else take over the job of blowing (pause here for expected BJ reference).

I give you.....the fan.


Simple box fan propped over the head of the keggle...pointed down slightly.
Fan_1.jpg

Standing here I could almost smell the DMS being carried away.
Fan_2.jpg

You can see how hard this is boiling...but the foam being broken up by the strong current.
Fan_3.jpg

Of course I brew in a clean environment and do not have to worry about june bug getting sucked into the fan and dispersed in a thousand parts into my beer. :D

So if boil overs are a nightmare during your brew process...try becoming a fan of the fan.
 

brewt00l

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couple other options....

"Phantom Brewer" from the Maltose Falcons recommends glass marbles in the bottom of the kettle:

"That's right, glass marbles, the kind kids play with. Just put about 20 of them in the brew pot. Don't worry about the marbles breaking. There're made of tempered glass and their spherical shape gives them great strength. That's why kids can bang them together day after day and they don't break. Don't worry about the heat, either. A few hundred degrees Fahrenheit is nothing to a tempered glass marble.

Instead of getting big, explosive gas bubbles popping up and blowing beer out of the kettle, you'll see a bunch of smaller, finer bubbles evenly spread over the center of the boil. This steady stream of smaller bubbles will do just as good a job of breaking up the hop resin and oil bubbles in your wort -- without the sloppy mess."

http://www.maltosefalcons.com/tech/phantombrewer.php#20050701

Fermcap is another...
 

Germey

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A few of my club members use those clip on fans like this

I've read that it can significantly increase your evaporation rate and reduce boil time also.
 

the_bird

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You can use Fermcap in the boil, can't you? Red was mocking me for boiling over a 5-gallon batch in a keggle (at least until Jester nearly boiled over a 10-gallon batch in a 25-gallon pot). I've thought anout getting some of that and experimenting with it both in the boil and for fermentation.
 

Alamo_Beer

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Thats an awesome idea BM but are you at all worried about increasing your boil off rate like Germey said??

I like the marble idea too :D
 

bwitt

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Damn. Now I have to stop at the store on my way home this afternoon for marbles and a fan for tomorrows batch.:D

I brew outside so I'll have to watch for June bugs wasps and bees. On second thought they would just add more character to the brew.;)
 
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I like the marble idea too :D
me too...but...smooth glass kinda defeats the point of giving a gas bubble a place to form. My LHBS has some distillers supplies and in them, they have what amounts to ceramic rocks. It has pretty sharp edges, works wonderfully and does the same thing as the marbles, just better. This is the same idea as the etched glass in the bottom of a beer glass, which makes me wonder what would happen if you were to take a center punch and very gently stipple (it's ok to google) the bottom of your brew kettle.
I'll try and let you know.
 

Bobby_M

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Probably a good reason not to polish the inside of the keggle huh. Maybe a sandblasted finish would be better. How about a handfull of stainless steel jacks (also a children's toy) I bet they don't make them.
 

rabidgerbil

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Probably a good reason not to polish the inside of the keggle huh. Maybe a sandblasted finish would be better. How about a handfull of stainless steel jacks (also a children's toy) I bet they don't make them.
Sweet... there is how I will make my first million. Contract a company to produce SS jacks that I can not only sell to yuppies who want "only the best" for their children, but also the the homebrew community as "mechanical foam dispersion units".
 
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BierMuncher

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Thats an awesome idea BM but are you at all worried about increasing your boil off rate like Germey said??

I like the marble idea too :D
I did overshoot my boil off (further proof that I had a bigger boil than normal) but like anytime that happens, I just topped off the keggle up to my target mark before chilling.
 

FlyGuy

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You can use Fermcap in the boil, can't you? Red was mocking me for boiling over a 5-gallon batch in a keggle (at least until Jester nearly boiled over a 10-gallon batch in a 25-gallon pot). I've thought anout getting some of that and experimenting with it both in the boil and for fermentation.
Yes, you certainly can use Fermcap (aka foam control) drops in the boil. I don't even think twice anymore about putting 6.5 gals of wort in my 7.5 gal pot (stovetop) or 13.5 gals in my keggle. That stuff is magic. And no fan to lug around, either! ;)
 

rabidgerbil

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Yes, you certainly can use Fermcap (aka foam control) drops in the boil. I don't even think twice anymore about putting 6.5 gals of wort in my 7.5 gal pot (stovetop) or 13.5 gals in my keggle. That stuff is magic. And no fan to lug around, either! ;)
So if you are starting with 13.5 in the keggle, what are you cooking that down to? I am building my keggle system now, and trying to figure out what my batch sizes are going to be. I hear people talking about anything from 10-12 gallons.
 

rabidgerbil

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About 10.5 - 11 gals. With trub loss, that gets me to about 5 gals in each of two kegs.
Kind of the way Jamil always talks about it...
brew 6 gallons, leave 1/2 gallon in the kettle,
leave 1/2 gallon in the carboy,
put 5 gallons of clean beer into the keg.

I had not thought about the keg issue...
since I prefer to keg everything, then shooting for batches
larger than 10 gallons does not make much sense.

Hmm... but it might be kind of nice to fill two kegs, and put a couple gallons into a third,
carb it up, and then bottle that up for giving to friends and what not...
 

Kaiser

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I know it first hand in my beers, and the few micro-breweries I've visited have said the same thing. "If it ain't about to boil over...it ain't boiling hard enough."
I disagree with that. All that's necessary to get rid of enough DMS is 6-8% boil-off. My last Helles, I went a step further and simmerd it for the first 30 min with the lid on (at least somewhat, as it would boil over with the lid completely on) and the last 30 min I boiled at regular strength. At that point the proteins were already coagulated and I didn't have to worry about a boil over.

This was 2 weeks ago and so far I cannot detect any DMS in the hydrometer samples. To early to tell, by I may have found a way to adopt commercial boiling practices to save some propane for the home brewer.

BTW, this only applies to immersion chiller use where you cool the complete wort volume immediately after flame-out

When it comes to formation points for the bubbles, I think fixing something in the middle of the kettle or keggle would be nice. This way the bubbles would form in the center of the bottom, rise to the top and set a very even wort circulation in motion.

Kai
 

EvilTOJ

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Sweet... there is how I will make my first million. Contract a company to produce SS jacks that I can not only sell to yuppies who want "only the best" for their children, but also the the homebrew community as "mechanical foam dispersion units".
Or late night ninja caltrops.
 

natehilde

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What's wrong with spraying down the foam with a garden hose sprayer. Seems to work like a charm for me.
 

natehilde

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I usually only have to spray down for the first five minutes. After that, I get a good rolling boil with little foam. Plenty of time to tie one on!
 

EdWort

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Boiling 13 gallons in a 20 gallon Blingmann works pretty well for preventing boil overs for me. :D
 

Tankard

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"If it ain't about to boil over...it ain't boiling hard enough."
I don't really understand this. DMS is eliminated when the water is boiling at 212 degrees. The water is at 212 regardless if you have it on full blast and are boiling off 17-18% or if you turn down the flame to just enough to keep the boil.
 
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BierMuncher

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I don't really understand this. DMS is eliminated when the water is boiling at 212 degrees. The water is at 212 regardless if you have it on full blast and are boiling off 17-18% or if you turn down the flame to just enough to keep the boil.
There are more benefits to a hard boil than just ridding DMS.
 

Tankard

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How though? The water is no hotter during a "hard boil" than just a regular boil. The only difference I see is that the evaporation rate is higher.
 

Arneba28

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I use fermcap, I love the stuff. Right as its about to boil I give it 2 drops and it foams up but only a little coat on the top. Then right after the first hop addition I give it another 4-6 drops. I boil 6.75gallon batches in a 7 gallon brewpot.:)
 
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Does Fermcap have any negative effects on the finished product(Head retention, taste, etc...)?? I know they say it doesnt...just wondering from experience? And anyone have any idea what dimethylpolysiloxane really is?

--DO
 

balto charlie

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"Phantom Brewer" from the Maltose Falcons recommends glass marbles in the bottom of the kettle:

"That's right, glass marbles, the kind kids play with. Just put about 20 of them in the brew pot. Don't worry about the marbles breaking. There're made of tempered glass and their spherical shape gives them great strength. That's why kids can bang them together day after day and they don't break. Don't worry about the heat, either. A few hundred degrees Fahrenheit is nothing to a tempered glass marble.
I used marble before and they all cracked! They did not break apart but they all have many cracks running through them. I never used them again. I think I still have them. If memory is with me I'll try and post a picture of them. Maybe my marbles were from china. Charlie
 

fermenator

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Yes, you certainly can use Fermcap (aka foam control) drops in the boil. I don't even think twice anymore about putting 6.5 gals of wort in my 7.5 gal pot (stovetop) or 13.5 gals in my keggle. That stuff is magic. And no fan to lug around, either! ;)

+1 for the Fermcap-S, I don't even think about boil overs anymore since I started using it.
 

Dr Malt

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Adding some thing to the kettle like marbles is a good idea for increasing the number of points for bubble formation and making the boiling bubbles smaller.

A little trick I have learned is to add about 8 - 12 pellets of my bittering hops just before boil. The hops contain hop oils and as any good beer drinker knows, grease and oil in you beer glass kills foam. So does hop oils in the boil.

Try it.

Dr Malt :mug:
 

Baldy_Beer_Brewery

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Maybe my marbles were from china. Charlie
Most likely. I read the marble tip long ago but after seeing that the marbles I bought were made in China, I decided that I didn't want them in my brew pot. I dropped a couple of them on the concrete and they chipped very easily. Just didn't seem worth it.
 

Kauai_Kahuna

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Never really thought of this, I have a hard time getting a good boil on an electric stove but I think a few SS bolts are in my future. You come across the strangest workarounds on this board.
Maybe I'll get some foam control next time I do an online order, my LHBS does not have it.
 

jameswardpeterson

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I use the idea you guys have with the marbles all the time in chemistry. we use what are called boiling stones, or boiling chips, same thing. they are small ceramic chips that work as a point for bubbles to form. if you really wanted to you could buy a little bottle of them from a lab supply pretty cheap i would think. a piece of ceramic or porcelain would work fine, just make sure that it has as little glaze as possible on it. and dont worry about the heat, ceramics are cooked at temperatures that i would be impressed if you could reach.:D
 

Baldy_Beer_Brewery

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I think before my next brew day, I'll do a test boil with my Chinese marbles and make sure they don't have a tendancy to crack. That just leaves the lead to worry about.
 
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