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The Pacific Belgian.  An aggressively hopped IPA utilizing exclusively New Zealand variety hops and a Belgian yeast strain.  Brewed.  Fermented.  Racked.  And dry hopped.  Everything is going smoothly as it makes its way to the keg next week....oh wait....what is that....why are you foaming....oh crap what do I do....panic....ummm.....

Well as you can tell I got my very first taste of a dry hopping explosion and it wasn't pretty.  Not sure why this has never happened before or really why it happened this time but I lost what appears to be nearly all of my two ounces of New Zealand hops which in a liquid foamy form unsurprisingly makes a huge mess.    I "solved" the problem as best I could by grabbing the camera and deciding to wait it out.

From what I gather I am not the first person to experience this mess.  As a byproduct of fermentation CO2 is emitted which we all know.  However, when CO2 remains suspended in the beer for whatever reason and is exposed to a solid such as hop pellets a nucleation site is formed where the CO2 will begin to escape.  According to the Nucleation Wikipedia page (I know right, don't use Wikipedia as a reference) another example would be when bubbles of CO2 trapped in a carbonated Diet Coke nucleate upon touching the surface of a bunch of Mentos.

So why is there so much suspended CO2?  For my beer I'm not sure.  If a beer/liquid is at a lower temperature CO2 saturates it more easily.  This is why a cold keg will carbonate fast than a warm keg or why priming sugar calculators ask for the temperature of the beer.  The Pacific Belgian was sitting at a warm 72* so cross that off.  It could also be due to an unfinished fermentation.  Well, it's been over a month with a steady FG of 1.007 so I'm pretty sure it's done.  So for some reason I had a ton of CO2 in my beer which was evident when I tasted the sample I pulled before adding the dry hops.  Swishing it around in my mouth it felt almost like a under-carbonated beer.

So, how can someone avoid this in the future?  Well, make sure fermentation is finished, your beer is at a warm temp and you have adequate space in your carboy for dry hopping.  Also, this problem can be alleviated by racking onto hops so that if you notice excessive foaming you can simply stop the flow of beer temporarily while it dies down.  Most importantly though it would seem that you should know that this can happen and you should plan for it.  Something I was unaware of and obviously did not do.  Now, off to the store for more hops since I lost all of mine.

Great blog post, thanks for posting this.

10/12/2013 12:33:43 am

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