Another Foam Thread...I'm Blaming Fat Tire

Discussion in 'Home Bar' started by HawgFan, Oct 28, 2013.

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  1. HawgFan

    HawgFan Initiate (0) Oct 28, 2013 Colorado

    Hey all! I'm a kegerator newbie. I bought a Danby tower model at Costco a couple of weeks ago, shortly followed by a half barrel of Fat Tire. I sat up my system at 38 degrees, 12 PSI, using 5 ft of 3/16 beer line (came with the kegerator). I got 90% foam my first, second, and third pour.

    Oh, by the way, I live in N. Colorado Springs... about 7,000 ft altitude.

    I started reading lots of great posts from lots of great sites and made a few changes. I installed copper tubing in my tower to chill my line (although this wasn't my main problem, as EVERY pour was foamy), and I replaced my short beer line with 21 feet of 3/16 line (yes, I said 21 feet).

    Now when I pour a pint, I get about 60% beer, 40% foam (on every pour, using clean glass chilled in fridge). Definitely an improvement, but still not good. My beer line is filled solid with beer (i.e. no visible air pockets). If I drop the pressure in my keg to 6 PSI I get a GREAT pour, but obviously this will flatten my beer over the long term.

    So what more can I do? Is it the high altitude that's causing this, or perhaps my Fat Tire is over carbonated? I choose to blame my beer at this point (since I'm out of ideas).

    Thanks for any ideas!!
  2. zero_signal

    zero_signal Initiate (0) Aug 8, 2013 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Lol why do you have 21 ft of beer line ??? And did you use a quality calibrated thermometer to take your temperatures ?
  3. paulys55

    paulys55 Zealot (582) Aug 2, 2010 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Yes, need more info. I too am curious about the 21ft...
  4. HawgFan

    HawgFan Initiate (0) Oct 28, 2013 Colorado

    The temperature (38 degrees) is measured via a thermometer I keep in the fridge (not the output temp of the beer, I guess I should measure that next). I've compared this thermometer to another thermometer I used to measure a glass of water in the fridge, it's within 1 degree.

    I went to a local homebrew store and purchased 20 ft of tubing (but they actually gave me 21 ft). Out of curiosity I decided I would start off with installing the entire length, expecting the beer to barely crawl out of the tap, then cut it back in small increments until I found a nice balance. To my surprise, the beer still comes out fairly fast (and foamy) with 21 ft of beer line.

    So have I set the record for longest beer line? Surely not. But still frustrated at the results.

    I've also wondered if my CO2 regulator is off (i.e. I'm pressurizing the keg more than I think). Is there an easy way to check the calibration of a regulator?
  5. HawgFan

    HawgFan Initiate (0) Oct 28, 2013 Colorado

    So I did some more reading in the Draft Beer Quality Manual found here:

    There's a nice discussion of altitude and CO2 pressure on page 16. It looks like I need to RAISE my CO2 pressure to about 15.5 PSI to make up for the low atmospheric pressure at 7000 ft. Interesting.

    It's also apparent I need to measure my beer temp out of the tap (not in the fridge). Maybe it's warmer than I think (needs to be at 38 degrees). Will see what happens...
  6. DougC123

    DougC123 Devotee (476) Aug 21, 2012 Connecticut

    Blaming the beer isn't really an option until you know what you are doing. You have something drastically off. You need to understand the beer temp as you are now trying to and you need to know the volumes of CO2 for the beer. 21' is completely out of line and since we know that up front there is absolutely no reason to keep that length while you are tuning this, it will only throw you off as you are trying to dial it in. Cut that back to 10' for the time being, at least you will be in the ball park. You may want to check the connections between the line and the shank and the shank and the faucet to make sure there are no burrs or defects there, andything in the flow will agitate the beer. I'd be looking there is the beer lines are in fact full of beer. Double check that the faucet is atttached all the way and not cross threaded. Also when you open the faucet it should be all the way open, anything less will cause foam.
  7. DougC123

    DougC123 Devotee (476) Aug 21, 2012 Connecticut

    Sorry for the typos in that post....too many fat fingers, too many small keys.
  8. paulys55

    paulys55 Zealot (582) Aug 2, 2010 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    If your kegerator is holding a constant temp around 38 deg then you can probably eliminate that as a potential problem. Usually changes in temperature between the keg and the faucet are what cause issues but with a kegerator that usually isn't a problem because of the short distance the beer travels (unless your tower is poorly insulated or being heated by something which is unlikely). DougC had some good input above and I really feel it probably is just a matter of balance and dialing in your system. Only other things I could think of are maybe checking the gasket on your coupler for burrs or defects and maybe trying to swap it out to see if that does anything. Is the regulator new? I've had bad regulators before but that is also less likely the problem. Good luck and let us know how it goes.
  9. HawgFan

    HawgFan Initiate (0) Oct 28, 2013 Colorado

    So I cut my beer line down to 11 feet and still had lots of foam, getting a little better with multiple pours. I measured the temp of my beer after pouring and found it was around 41 degrees. My thermometer was sitting at the bottom of my kegerator (reading 38 degrees), so I re-positioned it on top of my keg and discovered the temp rose to 42 degrees! That's one big temperature gradient!

    I decided I needed a fan, so I ordered a 80mm x 80mm computer fan from Amazon. I next took a piece of scrap 3-inch diameter pvc pipe I had laying around and cut about a 10-inch long piece. I attached the fan to the top of the pipe with silicon caulk ( a perfect air-tight fit) and cut a 3" x 3" "window" in the pipe near the bottom to allow for air intake. I also ran a 9V DC power wire through the drain tube in the back of the kegerator to gain access to the inside. Connected everything and sat the fan in the back corner of the kegerator... purring nice and quite and providing a nice flow of air upwards (while sucking intake air from the bottom).

    Wow! What a difference a fan makes! Now my kegerator's interior temperature is uniform throughout, and it seems to be running more efficiently. I'm now holding at 34 degrees at the same thermostat setting as before (which gave me 38 degrees bottom and 42 degrees top).

    At this colder temperature, my foaming issues have been reduced greatly. My first pour now gives me about 1.5 inches of foam (still a little too much), with subsequent pours giving about a half inch (my preference). I'll take it!

    By the way, I happened to observe a bartender at Old Chicago's pouring beer from his "professional" taps and noticed he always let the beer flow about one second before sticking the glass under it. If I did that I'm sure my first pour would be better too, but I don't want to waste any beer (or dump my drip tray too often).

    Thanks for your feedback, and happy pouring!
  10. DougC123

    DougC123 Devotee (476) Aug 21, 2012 Connecticut

    You are getting more first beer foam because you don't have a tower cooler. If you used the fan to make a tower cooler it would serve both it's intended function and take care of the circulation.
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