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My "simple" Hefeweizen is pouring foam

Discussion in 'Home Bar' started by Curmudgeon, Nov 13, 2017.

  1. Curmudgeon

    Curmudgeon Disciple (359) May 29, 2014 Massachusetts
    Supporter Subscriber

    Sorry, I know there's a lot out there on this topic but I can't seem to isolate my problem. I use Brewcipher and my beers pour great unless I go for 3.0 or higher volumes of CO2. Keezer temp is around 39F. Height from mid-keg to tap is about 12inches, and I'm aiming for 3.3 volumes of CO2. PSI set to 19-20psi. Beer line is 14 feet. My first couple of pours were fantastic. After day 1 however it's been 90% foam.

    I think I'm left with only one possibility (minus infection - I'm pretty sure it's not infected) - When I use a "longer" beer line, there is significantly more beer line to keep cool. Whatever temperature fluctuation I'm getting in my keezer, 5-8 feet of line seems to fine for 2.4 volumes of CO2 (or so).

    Could the problem be that the temperature difference between the beer in the keg and my 14 foot beer line is different enough that the CO2 is coming out of solution while it travels through the beer line? If that's the case, I'll need to find a way to make my beer line cooler. Any tips?

    If it's not this, I'm at a loss and would love some other ideas. Thanks!
  2. TheBeerery

    TheBeerery Initiate (137) May 2, 2016 Minnesota

    Go back to a short line, and put an "instabalance" in. That should answer it.
    SFACRKnight likes this.
  3. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Zealot (508) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    I'd guess it's going to be hose length in relation to the temperature it is hitting your tap at. The higher vols is certainly not helping, and its being pushed with that many PSI is giving whatever friction points you have in your connection a lot to play with as far as things coming out of solution.
    Shorter hose. Lower temperature.
  4. Curmudgeon

    Curmudgeon Disciple (359) May 29, 2014 Massachusetts
    Supporter Subscriber

    @TheBeerery Wow....I can't believe I haven't come across that. You yankin' my chain? That thing really work? Thank you!

    @MostlyNorwegian Lower temp makes sense to me. But shorter hose? I guess from a thermodynamics standpoint it makes sense. Just also thinking I'd be getting less resistance on the flow of beer with shorter line. If I could get my line at the same temp as the beer from the keg, I'd think that'd solve it. Glycol? Anyway, I'm going to try one of these instabalance thingamajiggies and see how they work. Thanks guys!
  5. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (310) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    No way. That does not fix the problem.

    "instabalance" is for folks who can't work out really simple draft analysis. You won't see that as a fix in a pro system, not ever. Because it is not a fix it is a band aid and a worthless one at that.

    #5 billandsuz, Nov 14, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017
  6. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (310) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    Check your temps in the glass.
    Very simple. If the beer in the glass is the same as the beer in the keg then your temps are stable and you need to balance the other two variables. 1. Resistance. 2. Pressure.

    Or the temps vary and that means that your lines are warmer than the keg beer which means 3, you have a temp issue. Or possibly 1, maybe 2, and certainly 3. Can vary, as you see. Be certain. These are your three variables for draft balance and there ain't no more.

    All of which are fairly easy remedies.

    System balance is not at all like home brewing. There is no accommodating opinion when it comes to the simple physics of system balance. It is real and it ain't bullshit. But it can be fixed.

    Curmudgeon and DougC123 like this.
  7. Curmudgeon

    Curmudgeon Disciple (359) May 29, 2014 Massachusetts
    Supporter Subscriber

    @billandsuz Makes perfect sense. I am looking for some of those easy remedies. If Brewcipher's calcs are accurate (I think they are) then Resistance and Pressure are good. So I have a temp issue. How can I get my 14 feet of beer line to (pretty much) match the beer in the keg? I don't have a fan in my keezer. To really fix this I was going to start with getting a fan in there. Any other methods? Thanks!
  8. TheBeerery

    TheBeerery Initiate (137) May 2, 2016 Minnesota

    You sound like me with brewing.. Good on ya!
    billandsuz likes this.
  9. DougC123

    DougC123 Devotee (477) Aug 21, 2012 Connecticut

    Where are you coiling the extra line?
  10. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (310) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    Keezers do have some temp variance from top to bottom, especially at the collar. Think of those open top ice cream freezers at the grocery store. A few inches about the ice cream is not nearly as cold. A small fan will help.
    These are really reliable.

    Check your temps. Measure the first foamy pour. Then measure the beer that is dispensed from the keg. Should be no more than 1 or 2 degree change.

    3/16" ID tube, right?
  11. Curmudgeon

    Curmudgeon Disciple (359) May 29, 2014 Massachusetts
    Supporter Subscriber

    @DougC123 The line runs all over and it's all the way up and down. I use one of those ~7 cu ft. chest freezers.
    @billandsuz - yes, 3/16" ID tube from Perfect Pour vendor on Amazon. I like how it's thick but it's tough to move around because of that. I like the ice cream freezer comparison and again makes sense. Thanks for the link for the fan.

    I'm going to see if I can coil the line neatly together and have it rest close to the keg or keezer wall and get a fan going in there as well.
  12. PortLargo

    PortLargo Devotee (470) Oct 19, 2012 Florida

    Ye verily . . . so it is written, so it is the law.
    This sounds like your beer's carb level was not initially stabilized. As it absorbed more CO2 your problems started. Rarely does your keg or line "warm up" after being left overnight in the keezer.
    An 8' line has 1.4 ounces of beer, a 14 foot'er has 2.5 ounces. I'll go out on a limb and say that keeping the extra 1.1 ounces of beer cold ain't the problem. Is your second pour foamy or normal? That'll tell you if the problem is line-temp related. My experience is the line-length calculators typically understate the length of line required. I've found it easier to start longer and chop a little bit off until the pour is correct.

    FWIW, I keep two faucets for Belgians that are pressurized to 16psi with 12' lines (3.0v'ish) . . . they pour nicely. You might want to consider if you really want to carb at the 3.3v level. Yes, that's what the brewer intended . . . but it'll require more line and a decent compromise might be dropping the pressure a mite. My guess is you'll not notice the difference. Otherwise you'll be forced to reduce temp/press or longer lines. As Doug alluded to, keep your lines running down to the bottom of the keezer. The only time my lines are above the keg is the connection to the "beer out" post and the other end to the faucet. While a fan won't hurt, I don't see it helping all that much. If you decide to stick with the higher carb levels you might want to look at 1/4" line to keep the lengths more manageable.
  13. Curmudgeon

    Curmudgeon Disciple (359) May 29, 2014 Massachusetts
    Supporter Subscriber

    @PortLargo Thanks all that! The other night I actually turned the gas off, released what I could from the PRV and reset to around 16psi (from 20psi). Haven't touched it in a couple days. I'll see. Is your kegerator pretty well-insulated? Thanks again guys!
  14. PortLargo

    PortLargo Devotee (470) Oct 19, 2012 Florida

    If your keg was near full my guess is the headspace pressure went back to about 19.5psi. If your beer was stabilized at 20psi that means it is going to off-gas until it reaches equilibrium. With a small headspace (@16psi) this will happen quickly and there won't be much reduction in pressure. If mostly empty (large headspace), results happen quicker. If your keg is mostly full I recommend reducing pressure to zero and leaving it overnight . . . then pull the prv valve and see how much gas is still in there. The only way to be sure you are down to the 16 psi level is to go below it, then re-set the pressure to match. Some trail and error involved and it may take as long to correct as the initial carb'ing time. Nothing happens fast in the gas-absorption business.

    Have you measured your beer temp with an accurate thermo yet? Don't want to besmirch Brewcipher's ability to predict line lengths, but I don't hold my breath with any line calculators. For @VikeMan , what does BC predict for your line lengths and what do you end up using?
  15. Curmudgeon

    Curmudgeon Disciple (359) May 29, 2014 Massachusetts
    Supporter Subscriber

    @PortLargo More good advice. Thank you! I lifted the keg...seems about half full (was surprised at how light it got so quickly... /sigh) I pulled a glass last night and though a bit better, it was still a lot of foam. This is in line to what you mentioned in your post. I confess, I have not taking temperatures. I need to do that.

    I know Vikeman will have more concrete insight obviously but fwiw, the line I use is really hard. BC has a field (I think in the brewhouse tab) called "Resistance Multiplier". It defaults to 1.0 but you can adjust that to account for different types/condition (cleanliness) of beer line. Because I was getting foam, I decreased the multiplier to 0.75 which automatically increased the recommended beer line length. I also use new line for every keg (I don't brew a lot so I just use new line each time). Maybe I should decrease the multiplier even more.

    All of this is assuming my temps are appropriate so I need to figure that out first!

    Thanks again!
  16. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (310) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    Regarding the line length calculators, they are a useful tool and provide meaningful guidelines but you should not blindly assume the calculator is the final arbiter. It's a lot like religion. Taken in moderation it is a wonderful thing.

    3/16" choker is sometimes given a restriction value of 3.0 psi per foot. That was years ago. Then it was about 2.8 psi. Good Kuriyama vinyl choker is down to near 2.2 psi of restriction per foot.

    The online calculators are not current many times.

    AND please do check your temps with a good thermometer. Single easiest thing to do and most often (though maybe not here, maybe) the biggest problem in draft beer presentation. Seriously. Temperature is maybe 7 out of 10 service calls and it is really easy to diagnose.

    Curmudgeon likes this.
  17. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,343) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Nowadays all my faucets are flow control, so I do a lot less changing out of lines. But previously, I used the calculations in BrewCipher "as is," which worked well in my setup. I changed lines with every change in pressure (for beers with different Co2 levels).

    Assuming your temperatures and pressures are reliable, and you've eliminated any serious warm faucet/tower issues, the Resistance Multiplier is definitely the way to dial it in.

    I'll second that. And I'll add that some pressure gauges are better than others, so there's that variable too.
    Curmudgeon and billandsuz like this.
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