Author Topic: Well carbed but no head  (Read 2349 times)

Offline duboman

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Well carbed but no head
« on: October 23, 2013, 01:25:07 PM »
So I have now brewed my Hard Root Beer twice and have a kegging question regarding head:

It is really a beer and it is sitting at 30psi at 40F using 25' of 3/16" Bevflex. I get a nice timely pour and the root beer is well carbonated but there is no head at all and am trying to figure out why.

Is it recipe driven?
Do I need a higher PSI? Shorter lines?
Too much sugar syrup to back sweeten?
Too high ABV?

Here's the Recipe and process:
Boil Size: 5.00 gal
Post Boil Volume: 2.25 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 3.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 2.75 gal
Estimated OG: 1.090 SG
Estimated Color: 28.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 20.3 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 80.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 88.9 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
6 lbs 6.4 oz          Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)           Grain         1        75.0 %       
4.1 oz                De-Bittered Black Malt (Dingemans) (550. Grain         2        3.0 %         
2.7 oz                Carafa I (337.0 SRM)                     Grain         3        2.0 %         
2.7 oz                Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM)   Grain         4        2.0 %         
1 lbs 4.5 oz          Sugar, Table (Sucrose) (1.0 SRM)         Sugar         5        15.0 %       
4.1 oz                Milk Sugar (Lactose) (0.0 SRM)           Sugar         6        3.0 %         
0.25 oz               Warrior [15.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min        Hop           7        20.3 IBUs     
0.15 tsp              Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 mins)              Fining        8        -             
0.24 tbsp             Yeast Nutrient (Boil 10.0 mins)          Other         9        -             
1.0 pkg               American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056) [124.21 Yeast         10       -             


Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 8 lbs 8.6 oz

Once fermented out and cleared the product is cold crashed, back sweetened with 1450 grams of table sugar dissolved in 6 cups of water and racked to keg. 40ml of Gnome Root Beer Extract is then added for flavor.

I put the keg on at 30psi and set and forget. Takes a few days to carbonate being a 3 gallon keg.

I can't really change the recipe as it is exactly how it is supposed to taste and is a full 10%ABV which is what I wanted. Anything that I were to add to the recipe for head creation would have to be completely flavor neutral or not change the profile I have worked hard to achieve.

Appreciate any thoughts to get some head out of this!
Peace....Love......Beer......

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Online kramerog

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Re: Well carbed but no head
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2013, 01:40:04 PM »
Try less PSI. 
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Offline duboman

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Re: Well carbed but no head
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2013, 01:51:45 PM »
Try less PSI.

Really? Why would you suggest that and if so I assume I would have to shorten the lines or get a really slow pour?

Do you think I should really be treating this as a beer and not a soda since soda would normally be carbed to higher levels?
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Well carbed but no head
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2013, 01:55:24 PM »
If you pour straight down the middle of the glass from say 6 inches above the rim does a head form? In other words are we talking about head formation or retention.

It could well be the high ABV although that doesn't seem high enough to cause a total lack of foam. I believe pH can cause foam creation issues which is why many sour beers don't foam well.

It's certainly not too little co2.

I would say if no foam forms even from the pour described above you are going to have to look at the recipe.

I suppose it could be the flavoring you are using. Another experiment you could try to narrow it down is to carb the next batch up fully before adding the rootbeer flavouring and see if you get some foam then.

likely ingredients of a rootbeer flavouring extract would include wintergreen oil, and oil of cassia, and who knows what other oils so that could well be having an effect.

If that is the case you might have better luck adding the flavor at a different point in the process. There is a guy on here that makes a coconut milk stout that has actual coconut milk in it and he says he had no head retention problems so maybe see when in his process he adds the fatty stuff.
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Online kramerog

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Re: Well carbed but no head
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2013, 02:01:19 PM »
If I take a Corny to a party without bringing any CO2, the beer tends to get foamier and foamier as the pressure in the keg drops down.  Eventually no liquid beer comes out. 

So try a lower serving pressure with a longer pour, but not a really slow pour.

I think the beer might be overcarbed even for soda, but that would be a separate problem.  I am not suggesting that the soda should carbed to the same level as beer if soda-like carbonation is what you desire.
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Offline duboman

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Re: Well carbed but no head
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2013, 02:02:52 PM »
If you pour straight down the middle of the glass from say 6 inches above the rim does a head form? In other words are we talking about head formation or retention.

It could well be the high ABV although that doesn't seem high enough to cause a total lack of foam. I believe pH can cause foam creation issues which is why many sour beers don't foam well.

It's certainly not too little co2.

I would say if no foam forms even from the pour described above you are going to have to look at the recipe.

I suppose it could be the flavoring you are using. Another experiment you could try to narrow it down is to carb the next batch up fully before adding the rootbeer flavouring and see if you get some foam then.

likely ingredients of a rootbeer flavouring extract would include wintergreen oil, and oil of cassia, and who knows what other oils so that could well be having an effect.

If that is the case you might have better luck adding the flavor at a different point in the process. There is a guy on here that makes a coconut milk stout that has actual coconut milk in it and he says he had no head retention problems so maybe see when in his process he adds the fatty stuff.

Thanks, I'll try the pour thing when I get home and see, never thought about the creation or retention thing honestly, that would at least narrow things down.
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Offline duboman

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Re: Well carbed but no head
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2013, 02:06:35 PM »
If I take a Corny to a party without bringing any CO2, the beer tends to get foamier and foamier as the pressure in the keg drops down.  Eventually no liquid beer comes out. 

So try a lower serving pressure with a longer pour, but not a really slow pour.

I think the beer might be overcarbed even for soda, but that would be a separate problem.  I am not suggesting that the soda should carbed to the same level as beer if soda-like carbonation is what you desire.

Thanks as well, got some experimenting to do here. Yes, I am looking for a higher carb level similar to sods as that's what this lends itself to flavor and mouthfeel wise. At lower carb levels it tasted like flat root beer syrup:) The higher carb level makes it taste just like root beer with good fizz, just no head...........
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Re: Well carbed but no head
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2013, 02:12:36 PM »

Thanks as well, got some experimenting to do here. Yes, I am looking for a higher carb level similar to sods as that's what this lends itself to flavor and mouthfeel wise. At lower carb levels it tasted like flat root beer syrup:) The higher carb level makes it taste just like root beer with good fizz, just no head...........

If lower PSI works, you could lengthen the hose.  Just spitballin'
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Offline duboman

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Re: Well carbed but no head
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2013, 05:14:07 AM »
So to follow up, last night I tried a pour from about 6-8" straight down into the glass. I could see a nice 1/4" or so of carbonation and head trying to form just below the surface and got about 1/16" of head, nice and tan but that's it.

I'm going to assume that whatever is in the extract, oils, etc are probably preventing a decent head from actually forming as the this layer was retained and there was nice lacing on the glass, thanks for the input everyone!
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Offline Jimmy K

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Re: Well carbed but no head
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2013, 05:57:09 AM »
If I take a Corny to a party without bringing any CO2, the beer tends to get foamier and foamier as the pressure in the keg drops down.  Eventually no liquid beer comes out. 
That's because with less pressure in the keg, the beer is actually foaming in the keg at the end of the party.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Well carbed but no head
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2013, 06:54:28 AM »
How long has the beer been in the keg?  Do you carbonate at serving temp?

I've found that with higher serving pressures the beer will initially seem carbonated but has poor head forming and retention.  Given time (maybe a week or so) the head seems to stabilize.

What I think might be happening is that the higher pressure is forcing the gas into suspension, which is why the beer seems carbonated, but that it's not fully dissolved into the liquid when I initially tap the keg.  The pour is good, the carbonation seems to be there, but I get a thin fizzy head that dissipates quickly.  A week or so later, it's a different story.

So, maybe you just need to be patient?
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Re: Well carbed but no head
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2013, 06:55:15 AM »
If I take a Corny to a party without bringing any CO2, the beer tends to get foamier and foamier as the pressure in the keg drops down.  Eventually no liquid beer comes out. 
That's because with less pressure in the keg, the beer is actually foaming in the keg at the end of the party.
Any yet when I use a shorter hose the foaming largely goes away.
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Re: Well carbed but no head
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2013, 07:00:19 AM »
I'm going to assume that whatever is in the extract, oils, etc are probably preventing a decent head from actually forming as the this layer was retained and there was nice lacing on the glass, thanks for the input everyone!

If the beer became cloudy after you added the rootbeer extract, i.e. your beer is an emulsion, then that would  confirm that oils are the source of the problem.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Well carbed but no head
« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2013, 07:02:18 AM »
I'm going to assume that whatever is in the extract, oils, etc are probably preventing a decent head from actually forming as the this layer was retained and there was nice lacing on the glass, thanks for the input everyone!


If the beer became cloudy after you added the rootbeer extract, i.e. your beer is an emulsion, then that would  confirm that oils are the source of the problem.
+1.  And it's a 10% abv beer - inherently tough on head retention.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2013, 07:06:41 AM by HoosierBrew »
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Offline duboman

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Re: Well carbed but no head
« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2013, 07:32:22 AM »

How long has the beer been in the keg?  Do you carbonate at serving temp?

I've found that with higher serving pressures the beer will initially seem carbonated but has poor head forming and retention.  Given time (maybe a week or so) the head seems to stabilize.

What I think might be happening is that the higher pressure is forcing the gas into suspension, which is why the beer seems carbonated, but that it's not fully dissolved into the liquid when I initially tap the keg.  The pour is good, the carbonation seems to be there, but I get a thin fizzy head that dissipates quickly.  A week or so later, it's a different story.

So, maybe you just need to be patient?

The beer has been in the keg now about a week at 30psi at 40F.

The root beer is clear as well so there is is nothing suspended and yes, it is a full 10% ABV.

Like I mentioned, the co2 appears to be fully absorbed as there are a ton of bubbles rising from the bottom of the pour from start to finish and it tastes well carbonated.

 The tiny thin head that is forming is not dissipating quickly and there is nice lacing as you drink it.

I guess I'll see how it develops over another week or so but I'm thinking it has something to do with the root beer extract oils and ingredients that might be limiting the head production.
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