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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: narcout on March 08, 2011, 04:47:53 AM

Title: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: narcout on March 08, 2011, 04:47:53 AM
What is the relationship, if any, between the foam that forms on top of the boil and the stringy, egg-drop soup looking hot break material?
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: gordonstrong on March 08, 2011, 04:52:35 AM
It's protein, mostly. You don't see it hanging out on top after the hot break, right?  If you skim it, it won't be there to get in your way later. If you don't have problems with break material in your way later, don't worry about it. Either way, you don't want it in your beer.
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: nateo on March 08, 2011, 08:28:56 PM
I like to skim off the top, because I've noticed that some of the draff from the grains will be carried up by the protein, so you can get both at once.
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: weithman5 on March 08, 2011, 08:54:29 PM
I just let it boil over and have the wife clean it up ;D actually i pour my wort through a strainer enroute to the fermenter and it is not a problem
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: oscarvan on March 09, 2011, 03:20:28 AM
I just let it boil over and have the wife clean it up ;D actually i pour my wort through a strainer enroute to the fermenter and it is not a problem

You funny......

Haven't found a strainer, yet, that will catch the hot break.
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: morticaixavier on March 09, 2011, 03:22:19 AM
I just let it boil over and have the wife clean it up ;D actually i pour my wort through a strainer enroute to the fermenter and it is not a problem

You funny......

Haven't found a strainer, yet, that will catch the hot break.

I use a regular strainer with a piece of flour sacking over it.
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on March 09, 2011, 03:53:32 AM
I just let it boil over and have the wife clean it up ;D
Da man!!!

Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: malzig on March 09, 2011, 12:05:40 PM
...I pour my wort through a strainer enroute to the fermenter and it is not a problem
Haven't found a strainer, yet, that will catch the hot break.
I use a regular strainer with a piece of flour sacking over it.
Using whole hops can effectively turn a strainer into a hop back, and seems to do a decent job of removing break material.  That's what I use for my small batch brewing, where losing a small volume can mean losing a high percentage of good wort, and the wort stays pretty clear into the fermenter.

Someday I'm going to collect the last gallon of wort, break and all, and ferment it side-by-side with the clear wort to see what difference it makes.  I don't want to say it doesn't matter, but I can't say that I can really cite any obvious difference in the flavor of beers I made before I left the break behind and those I made afterwards.
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: bluesman on March 09, 2011, 12:24:16 PM
Hi, my name is Ron and I am a skimmer.   ;D
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: jeffy on March 09, 2011, 12:58:39 PM
I skim when I don't first wort hop, but I tend to FWH a lot.
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: mabrungard on March 09, 2011, 01:05:56 PM
I'm with Jeff on this one.  Because I can skim that material easily, I do it for all my brews that aren't First Wort Hopped.  There is ample evidence in my opinion that the scum on the boil has flavor negative impacts, so it seems that it is worth doing when I'm not going to lose some of my FWHs. 
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: Pawtucket Patriot on March 09, 2011, 01:10:33 PM
I skimmed for about a year, mainly to alleviate boil overs.  When I upgraded to a bigger kettle a few years ago, I stopped skimming.  I've noticed no difference whatsoever in flavor.  The most noticeable flavor difference I've tasted recently has to do with hitting a proper mash pH and adding flavor salts to the kettle to hit an appropriate water profile.
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: gordonstrong on March 09, 2011, 01:53:35 PM
If you skim the foam, then you're more likely to be watching the pot when it comes to a boil and thus less likely to have a boilover.  If you're prone to getting easily distracted by shiny objects, then skimming gives you something to do.

I think it's one of those things that gives you a greater margin of error later on, so it doesn't do any harm.  I started doing it because of the similarity in making stocks.

As with any process in brewing, if you get good results without doing it, then don't worry about it.  Nobody said everyone has to brew the same way.  Well, if they did, they're wrong.
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: oscarvan on March 09, 2011, 02:00:27 PM
If you're prone to getting easily distracted by shiny objects, then skimming gives you something to do.

LOOK! a chicken!
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: glastctbrew on March 09, 2011, 02:06:34 PM
If you're prone to getting easily distracted by shiny objects, then skimming gives you something to do.

LOOK! a chicken!

Nah, its not a chicken or even the kids that provide the distraction.  Its usually "Now where did I put those damn hops I weighed out 10 minutes ago ???" 
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: bluesman on March 09, 2011, 02:42:28 PM
If you're prone to getting easily distracted by shiny objects, then skimming gives you something to do.

LOOK! a chicken!

Nah, its not a chicken or even the kids that provide the distraction.  Its usually "Now where did I put those damn hops I weighed out 10 minutes ago ???"  

I have to say that when my wort is about to come to a boil...I'm right there and watching it closely.

If you've ever had a boilover you'll understand why.  >:(

Once bitten...twice shy.   ;)
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: tomsawyer on March 09, 2011, 02:55:39 PM
I'm with Jeff on this one.  Because I can skim that material easily, I do it for all my brews that aren't First Wort Hopped.  There is ample evidence in my opinion that the scum on the boil has flavor negative impacts, so it seems that it is worth doing when I'm not going to lose some of my FWHs. 

Ample evidence?  Could you cite some of that?

For the record I will often skim just for something to do.  I don't think its much different than the rest of the protein, and when I don't skim I find that the floating denatured protein winds up on the side of my kettle as the level drops.  So I don't think I'm affecting my beer by doing this, just making it a little easier to clean the kettle later.

I do also sometimes see a little hop color (and presumably oils) sticking to the scum when I first add my bittering addition.  SIn this respect maybe it has some very minor affect on tthe bitterness.
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: jeffy on March 09, 2011, 04:28:20 PM
If you're prone to getting easily distracted by shiny objects, then skimming gives you something to do.

LOOK! a chicken!

Nah, its not a chicken or even the kids that provide the distraction.  Its usually "Now where did I put those damn hops I weighed out 10 minutes ago ???" 
Actually the biggest distraction for me is this forum.  What starts out to be a couple minutes sometimes turns into 20, then why did the flame go out, and what's that propane smell, or dang boil-over...
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: weithman5 on March 09, 2011, 04:38:19 PM
I just let it boil over and have the wife clean it up ;D
Da man!!!
I just let it boil over and have the wife clean it up ;D actually i pour my wort through a strainer enroute to the fermenter and it is not a problem

You funny......

Haven't found a strainer, yet, that will catch the hot break.

I use a regular strainer with a piece of flour sacking over it.

please no one tell my wife ::)  i use a strainer that is extremely fine. does take a while to pour through and i actually have to rinse it once or twice while pouring through it.  i think she (Lord help me) got it from pampered chef
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: denny on March 09, 2011, 04:39:35 PM
I'm with Jeff on this one.  Because I can skim that material easily, I do it for all my brews that aren't First Wort Hopped.  There is ample evidence in my opinion that the scum on the boil has flavor negative impacts, so it seems that it is worth doing when I'm not going to lose some of my FWHs. 

Well, I haven't been able to ascertain any negative effects from the foam, so I leave it.  I used to skim, but when I started doing a lot of FWH beers I stopped the skimming.  When I was able to make a comparison due to stopping, I found that there really wasn't any difference that I could attribute to skimming.
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: denny on March 09, 2011, 04:41:06 PM

I have to say that when my wort is about to come to a boil...I'm right there and watching it closely.

If you've ever had a boilover you'll understand why.  >:(

Once bitten...twice shy.   ;)

That's why they invented foam control, Ron!  I put some in once my kettle is full and then don't worry about it.
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: tschmidlin on March 09, 2011, 05:04:57 PM
Nah, its not a chicken or even the kids that provide the distraction.  Its usually "Now where did I put those damn hops I weighed out 10 minutes ago ???"  
They're on the scale. ;)

And for whatever it's worth, I don't skim and I use foam control.  Works for me.
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: pyrite on March 09, 2011, 05:25:57 PM
I'm with Jeff on this one.  Because I can skim that material easily, I do it for all my brews that aren't First Wort Hopped.  There is ample evidence in my opinion that the scum on the boil has flavor negative impacts, so it seems that it is worth doing when I'm not going to lose some of my FWHs. 

Ample evidence?  Could you cite some of that?

For the record I will often skim just for something to do.  I don't think its much different than the rest of the protein, and when I don't skim I find that the floating denatured protein winds up on the side of my kettle as the level drops.  So I don't think I'm affecting my beer by doing this, just making it a little easier to clean the kettle later.

I do also sometimes see a little hop color (and presumably oils) sticking to the scum when I first add my bittering addition.  SIn this respect maybe it has some very minor affect on tthe bitterness.

I skim for the exact same reasons you do Tom.  However, David Miller the author of Continental Pilsener explains that skimming is necessary to remove the harsh, astringent malt tannins before adding the first hops (56-58).
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: Kirk on March 09, 2011, 05:26:09 PM
Hi, my name is Kirk, and I decoction mash, so I don't get much of a hot break. :o
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: bluesman on March 09, 2011, 05:30:10 PM

I have to say that when my wort is about to come to a boil...I'm right there and watching it closely.

If you've ever had a boilover you'll understand why.  >:(

Once bitten...twice shy.   ;)

That's why they invented foam control, Ron!  I put some in once my kettle is full and then don't worry about it.

Yes perhaps you're right but I like watching for a really nice hot break. That would just take some of the fun out of it for me.  :)
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: Mark G on March 09, 2011, 05:31:44 PM
If you're prone to getting easily distracted by shiny objects, then skimming gives you something to do.

LOOK! a chicken!

Nah, its not a chicken or even the kids that provide the distraction.  Its usually "Now where did I put those damn hops I weighed out 10 minutes ago ???" 
Actually the biggest distraction for me is this forum.  What starts out to be a couple minutes sometimes turns into 20, then why did the flame go out, and what's that propane smell, or dang boil-over...
Whew, I'm not the only one. Except for me it seems to always be, "crap, I missed my hop addition." Luckily it's never been more than a couple minutes.
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: denny on March 09, 2011, 05:55:48 PM
However, David Miller the author of Continental Pilsener explains that skimming is necessary to remove the harsh, astringent malt tannins before adding the first hops (56-58).

He also claims to get like 127% efficiency in his beers.  ;)
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: weithman5 on March 09, 2011, 06:00:07 PM


He also claims to get like 127% efficiency in his beers.  ;)
maybe he considers the adjuncts to be bonus points. ::)
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: glastctbrew on March 09, 2011, 06:10:11 PM


He also claims to get like 127% efficiency in his beers.  ;)
maybe he considers the adjuncts to be bonus points. ::)

You mean they're not?  :-\
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: pyrite on March 09, 2011, 06:55:28 PM
However, David Miller the author of Continental Pilsener explains that skimming is necessary to remove the harsh, astringent malt tannins before adding the first hops (56-58).

He also claims to get like 127% efficiency in his beers.  ;)

David Miller's logic seems rational enough.  Let's look at Budweiser for a moment.  Budweiser's fermentation vessels, are rigged with a level at the top that catches all the fermentation scum, that is up and kicked-out during primary fermentation. The brew master at So. Cal Budweiser say's, the purpose of the top level inside their fermentation vessels is to catch all the harsh, astringent material that would other wise affect the flavor of the finished beer.  This may suggest, that skimming the foam in the kettle along with the coagulated hot-break would lessen the harsh flavor contributions.   

Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: denny on March 09, 2011, 06:59:36 PM
It may seem logical, but if my personal experience directly contradicts it, guess which I'm gonna go with?   :)  And I never automatically assume that everything that applies to commercial brewers necessarily applies to homebrewers.
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: morticaixavier on March 09, 2011, 07:05:00 PM
David Miller's logic seems rational enough.  Let's look at Budweiser for a moment.  Budweiser's fermentation vessels, are rigged with a level at the top that catches all the fermentation scum, that is up and kicked-out during primary fermentation. The brew master at So. Cal Budweiser say's, the purpose of the top level inside their fermentation vessels is to catch all the harsh, astringent material that would other wise affect the flavor of the finished beer.  This may suggest, that skimming the foam in the kettle along with the coagulated hot-break would lessen the harsh flavor contributions.   



Yes but that is during fermentation not the boil.
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: narvin on March 09, 2011, 07:24:33 PM

David Miller's logic seems rational enough.  Let's look at Budweiser for a moment.  Budweiser's fermentation vessels, are rigged with a level at the top that catches all the fermentation scum, that is up and kicked-out during primary fermentation. The brew master at So. Cal Budweiser say's, the purpose of the top level inside their fermentation vessels is to catch all the harsh, astringent material that would other wise affect the flavor of the finished beer.  This may suggest, that skimming the foam in the kettle along with the coagulated hot-break would lessen the harsh flavor contributions.   


Skimming the braun hefe during fermentation is a different topic, really.  In this case it's the incredibly bitter hop resins that attach to the krausen that you are skimming.

I'm not sure this actually suggests that the boil break material also contributes negatively to flavor.
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: pyrite on March 09, 2011, 07:48:09 PM
But I have read in a number of credible sources that the purpose of skimming 'Braun hefe' is to remove the material that contributes harsh flavors such as, hot-break, cold-break and even bitter hop resin that you have stated that wasn't removed before fermentation begins.  I would think that skimming kettle foam is removing protein, the protein that eventually coagulates with the hot-break material.

Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: tschmidlin on March 09, 2011, 08:41:32 PM
Either way, something that causes a noticeable flavor in a light American lager might not be noticeable at all in a Rye PA, don't you think?
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: denny on March 09, 2011, 08:45:43 PM
Either way, something that causes a noticeable flavor in a light American lager might not be noticeable at all in a Rye PA, don't you think?

That's a good point, Tom.  As a counter point, although I don't make ALL, I did make a few all pils malt pils this winter.  Not exactly Bud, but still a fairly light, delicate beer.  I did not skim any of them and there was no trace of tannin in any of them.
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: tschmidlin on March 09, 2011, 08:49:03 PM
Either way, something that causes a noticeable flavor in a light American lager might not be noticeable at all in a Rye PA, don't you think?

That's a good point, Tom.  As a counter point, although I don't make ALL, I did make a few all pils malt pils this winter.  Not exactly Bud, but still a fairly light, delicate beer.  I did not skim any of them and there was no trace of tannin in any of them.
Maybe it's because they use 6-row?  I'm just guessing.  I'm with you though, no need to skim, my beers taste great.  If people like doing it, go for it.
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: tomsawyer on March 09, 2011, 10:17:25 PM
Wikipedia (obviously the last word on any subject) says about beer tannins that they are acceptable in some styles (they mention Flanders red, nice touch) but not in lagers.  They also say that tannins and combine with proteisn to form chill haze.

My thought is that the scum is definitely not all tannin, but may contain some complexed with denatured protein.  Whether it contains more tannin than the non-scum coagulate I can't say, obviously there is some small difference in the materials since you don't continue to get scum forming if you skim it initially.  Now how much tannin is in your beer in the first place, is something we have some control over through our crush, attention to pH and sparge methods.  So if theres little tannin to begin with, then it would seem a moot issue as to whether the scum (or braun hefe for that matter) might need to be removed to avoid an off flavor.  We know that some people put the breaks in their beer to no ill effect, including chill haze.  Even if you have haze, you can remove it by fining and thereby remove the tannin component.

I'd think a little tannin might complement more beers than it fouls.  Its certainly a major component of wine, and one that important to the flavor and mouthfeel.
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: tubercle on March 09, 2011, 10:54:56 PM
However, David Miller the author of Continental Pilsener explains that skimming is necessary to remove the harsh, astringent malt tannins before adding the first hops (56-58).

He also claims to get like 127% efficiency in his beers.  ;)

  You can get those figures if you boil long enough ::) :o

  I prefer the Tubercle method: skim foam or take another sip of beer. Hmmm...Did I mention the laziness factor?
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: denny on March 09, 2011, 11:03:26 PM
Hmmm...Did I mention the laziness factor?

Hey, T, we call that pragmatism, not the "L" word!
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: lonnie mac on March 09, 2011, 11:42:52 PM
I skim a bit. Only because it's there, and I am like, hey, there's something I can do! Otherwise, that gunk is great yeast food.
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: tubercle on March 10, 2011, 01:04:46 AM
Hmmm...Did I mention the laziness factor?

Hey, T, we call that pragmatism, not the "L" word!


  I'll use that to correct the wife ;D.... :o
Title: Re: Skimming foam from the boil
Post by: lblikre on March 12, 2011, 11:01:57 PM
I put it all in the fermenter, even give the hops a squeeze to get that last juice.  By that point my hands have been in sanitizer several times so I don't worry.  I figure it gives the yeast some extra food.  I do have to let the beer sit about a week longer on the backside to settle, but It's always good.