Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Too much foam?

I just kegged my "Home-malted Pale Ale" the other day and, surprisingly, it didn't taste too bad - very hoppy with a bit of a honey aroma. It will take a little time to chill and force carbonate, so I'll have to wait just a bit longer for a real test, but overall I'm pretty pleased considering what I went through and what found it's way into that weird beer!

As I was sanitizing my corny keg, I remembered a cool trick that I use to reduce over-foaming when I pour beers from the kegorator tap. I've been using it for a while, so I can't remember what website I actually found it on, and I can't give the proper credit that is due, but I'm sure a lot of people out there are using something like this anyway.

Basically, to avoid over-foaming, you need to either have a bunch of extra line between your keg and the tap, or you need to lower the CO2 pressure so that the beer comes out slower. But if you lower the pressure too much, then the beer doesn't stay as carbonated. Many styles of beer require a high amount of carbonation, and I personally really enjoy a slightly higher carb on all my beers anyway, so what you need to do is figure out a way to slow down the rate of pour without reducing the CO2 pressure. Some people have devised smaller hard plastic tubing that they jam into the keg's dip tube, but I read somewhere about a better solution.

They are called "Bayonet mixer nozzles," and you can purchase them from a company called McMaster-Carr. Here is the link directly to the one you will need, which is the 5.3" L, 1/4" blunt tip model. Basically, this thing is a special tip designed to be attached to some kind of epoxy gun that will mix two substances as they pass through the nozzle housing. Inside the nozzle is a twisty-looking plastic mixer insert that you can remove and slide easily into the dip tube of your corny keg. You can even put more than one in there for more resistance, but I wouldn't recommend more than 2. With 2 in my keg and no extra line involved, I can keep my pressure as high as 14-16 psi and still get a nice, slow pour - perfect for the carbonation I desire.

They only cost $1.38 each (plus shipping) and come in this cool little bag:

Here's what one looks like when they first arrive (see the mixer part inside?):

Use something small to push out the mixer (I used the inside of a pen):

Pull out the mixer insert:

Then pull out another one so you have 2 total. Unscrew the bolt around the "out" valve on your keg, exposing the dip tube. Slide in the mixers. That's it! When you are cleaning and sanitizing your keg and lines, the sanitizer will pass through the inserts and clean them as well, so you never need to remove them. However, they are really easy to remove if you want to clean them better. Also, you can remove and add mixers according to how much carb you desire in different beers. If you have a bunch of kegs and brew a lot, you might have some kegs with no mixers, some with 1 or 2, etc. They are very cool, cheap, easy, and amazing - just one of the little tricks I'm so happy I found out about.

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