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Sudz

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I've just completed my second all-grain batch and while the beer is excellent, the head is a bit strange. One beer, a Sweet Stout, the other a Newcastle Brown. Both 5 gal batches.

The head on these appears and looks normal although it doesn't hang around long. The strange part is the way it spritzes. It's kinga like pouring a coke in a glass. The bubbles pop and throw a fine mist rather than just die down. They remain active throughout the drinking phase. More like a sparkling wine than a beer.

I carbonated as I always have with 5 oz of corn sugar boiled and added to the bottling bucket.

This appears to be associated with the all-grain brews. Never had this with the many extracts and partial extracts I've brewed.

Any idea what's causing this?

Thanks, Alan
 

s3n8

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The chemistry of head retention is very fickle. It could be based on recipe, it could be based on residual cleaners or sanitizers in your kettle, fermenter or bottle. I believe How to Brew talks about head retention quite a bit, but my brother has my copy.

Start by working backward through your process and see if there are any obvious changes that may affect head retention, then start looking at recipes. You can always add small amounts of wheat/crystal/carapils/flaked X to improve head retention.
 

HBDrinker008

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I had this same problem except mine was limited to certain bottles not the whole batch. What I gathered is that some of the bottles were not sanitized well enough and some nasties broke down some of the longer chained sugars causing the over carbing...I have no hard evidence that was the case but it made me feel like I could fix the problem in future batches. The bottles that had this problem also had a cidery taste and were...well basically not good....the way you are describing your problem is spot on to what I experienced
 
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Sudz

Sudz

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Thanks guys. I appreciate the feedback.

These beers had carapils and/or flaked corn which I would have expected to add to the head retention. Cleaning follows a pretty good routine which really hasn't changed with the all-grain.

So the mystery remains I guess.

I'll post back if I find an answer.
 

FlyGuy

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Hard to say, but if I had to guess the beer is either very young (recently bottled) and/or over-carbonated. If it is just young, head retention should improve somewhat through time.
 

dontman

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If you want to assume that all is the same except for the AG part, i.e. add'l ingredients, priming, conditioning time, etc, then I would look at the following in the AG process:

Mash temp lower than 150 will fully break down even the long sugar chains in carapils and flaked X, a protein rest will do the same, a thermometer that is slightly out of calibration and telling you 154 when actually you are at 149 will cause your problem.

And/Or a too long mash process will just digest everything down to fermentable sugar. This could be caused by sitting too long or not getting up to mash out temp. Again an out of whack thermometer can cause this.

Some thermos will read 212 at boiling and still be off by 5 degrees at 150. On your third AG batch try mashing at a higher temp.

I am making the assumption that this is strictly due to the switch to AG and not noobitus (drinking green beer.)
 
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Sudz

Sudz

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If you want to assume that all is the same except for the AG part, i.e. add'l ingredients, priming, conditioning time, etc, then I would look at the following in the AG process:

Mash temp lower than 150 will fully break down even the long sugar chains in carapils and flaked X, a protein rest will do the same, a thermometer that is slightly out of calibration and telling you 154 when actually you are at 149 will cause your problem.

And/Or a too long mash process will just digest everything down to fermentable sugar. This could be caused by sitting too long or not getting up to mash out temp. Again an out of whack thermometer can cause this.

Some thermos will read 212 at boiling and still be off by 5 degrees at 150. On your third AG batch try mashing at a higher temp.

I am making the assumption that this is strictly due to the switch to AG and not noobitus (drinking green beer.)

Excellent suggestions. I'll investigate my thermometer and take precautions on my next batch to ensure this isn't an issue. And the beer wasn't green. Three weeks in the bottle on a six week process in total.

I can say that "assuming" my digital thermometer is accurate, I did hit my numbers exactly for 60 minutes of mash. I fly sparge and do it very slowly using 170 degree water. I've been curious as to what, if any, effect the prolonged sparging may have on the final product. It can take 2 hours or more at a flow of aprox. 2 cups per minute to complete the sparge for 6.5 gallons of pre-boil wort.

Any comment on this?

Thanks,
 

mw20

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There is a Brew Strong podcast with Jamil and John Palmer that deals with head retention. And I think there is a Sunday Session that deals with carbonation. Look on the Brewing Network site and check their archives. But of these shows have a lot of good info. As far as your sparge goes, longer sparge times can extract tannins. I usually batch sparge and have had no tannin flavor, but my sparges still take almost an hour.
 

dontman

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Excellent suggestions. I'll investigate my thermometer and take precautions on my next batch to ensure this isn't an issue. And the beer wasn't green. Three weeks in the bottle on a six week process in total.

I can say that "assuming" my digital thermometer is accurate, I did hit my numbers exactly for 60 minutes of mash. I fly sparge and do it very slowly using 170 degree water. I've been curious as to what, if any, effect the prolonged sparging may have on the final product. It can take 2 hours or more at a flow of aprox. 2 cups per minute to complete the sparge for 6.5 gallons of pre-boil wort.

Any comment on this?

Thanks,
I will comment on this from my own experience with Fly sparging. I found that when I did a really slow sparge that my grain bed tended to stay below 168. Sometimes as low as 162 when I was sparging with 172 degree water. I have since upped my sparge temp to 180 and I now finally maintain a perfect 167-169 throughout the depth of the grain bed.

My thoughts at the time were that if I'm taking 3 hours from mash in to boil and there is ANY enzymatic activity AT ALL then this is going to be fermentable to a ridiculous degree.
 

psi3000

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HAAA
Subject: Strange Head
Haaa

If it taste strange it is most likely a infection. If not, then I would say it is just the type of beer you have made.
 

Whisler85

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consider starsan as a culprit- john palmer claims it takes a ton of it to ruin a beer, but even after rinsing i have ruined one gallon starters with it

it also has that weird, macro-bubble foam that i think you are describing- i have had that with infected beers- if you are going to sit on them and see if aging helps, make sure to check for over-carbing frequently or you will have WWIII on your hands if the bottles start popping

if they are infected, you will be able to taste it in a few weeks if you can't already

if theres one thing i'm an expert on, it's ruining beers by bottling them...
 

BeerPressure

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consider starsan as a culprit- john palmer claims it takes a ton of it to ruin a beer, but even after rinsing i have ruined one gallon starters with it
what a load of horse****. I've NEVER had any problems with starsan ruining beers.
 

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