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Frequent lack of krausen?

I’ve brewed 40+ batches and have never had anything close to a blow off. I don’t know anyone personally that brews but from seeing it online mentioned frequently it must be pretty common. With that I also get very little krausen compared to pictures I’ve seen which is weird because the two strains I been using lately are wyeast London ale III and wyeast American ale II, both true top croppers. Previously I didn’t care but I picked those strains because I want to start top cropping as my method of repitching. My beers are well received and I think they are very good but I’d like to figure out what’s causing the lack of krausen. I use a freezer for temp control, use pure O2, but I do brew all grain with ~3 gallon boils on my stove and top off. I don’t get a very vigorous boil, could that be the issue?

The biggest krausens I have seen always come from the German Wheat and Belgian yeast strains. If you haven’t used those at all then you haven’t experienced a true top cropper IMHO. You should see my Belgian wit-inspired apple ale right now. I only filled the 5-gallon carboy to 4 gallons and it’s still spewing yeast all over the floor… and this is at 62 F which is even lower than I intended. AND I underpitched by about 50%. It was spewing after just 24 hours, so I know it’s a great fermentation. After it calms down a bit, I will bring it upstairs to 67 F to finish up.

Oh, and by the way, my recipe contains zero wheat. It’s all barley malt and apple juice. So it is truly all about the yeast, not wheat content. There just ain’t nothing else like the Belgians and the German Wheat yeasts as far as krausen and creamy head.

:cheers:

I use wy1272 american ale II a lot. I have an amber ale fermenting right now with it. It has about 4 inches of krauesen on the 5th day after pitch.

I’ve only used 1318 London ale III once in an ESB. If I remember correctly it got a pretty full head of K on it but I recall not enjoying the finished beer as much as when I brew it with 1469.

I always ferment ales in the low 60s. If you’re hitting the gravity numbers you want and your beer is dropping clear then I’d say your boil is probably ok.

how is your head retention? My understanding is krausen is more a result of a protein-rich wort than yeast cell counts/actual fermentation activity.

Weak boil could be part of that. Do you get much hot/cold break during brew sessions?

Ferment at the lower end of the yeast’s range and you shouldn’t get much for krausen. I usually only get around an inch on my lagers and 2-3 on my ales. Never gets too high except maybe on a hefe.

I dunno, I just finished fermenting a wheat beer with WY1010 that never got above 62 degrees and mostly stayed around 60 degrees that I got a pretty big blowoff from. Plenty of headspace, too. I’ve had the same types of experiences with medium to high gravity pale ales and 1056 also. I agree, generally speaking, that lower temps will tend to minimize krausen production, but it still doesn’t mean that one won’t get a blowoff now and then.

No idea, but you’re not the only one. A strong boil sounds like it may be one of the factors, as my stove can only sustain what I would consider a ‘moderate’ rolling boil, and none of mine have ever had massive krausens either,

The weak boil is my hypothesis. Its the only weak point in my brewing process. It doesn’t seem to be affecting the taste of my beers, although my head retention is lacking which from what I understand further points to the weak boil as Pierto pointed out. I get a nice head when I pour but little/no lacing on the glass. How is your head retention?

How would a weak boil contribute to lessened blow off or krausen?

Personally, I don’t think boil vigor has anything to do with it. However I have not run experiments to know this for certain. It’s something you could play around with. Maybe do a side-by-side boiling experiment, where you split the boil and do half on a turkey burner and half on your stovetop in your kitchen. Keep in separate fermenters, carbonate exactly the same, then see if it made a difference. I doubt it, but I guess it’s possible. It might also have other effects. I would think clarity/haze might be impacted, maybe beer color and perhaps IBUs but probably not a lot.

If he’s not getting a strong vigorous boil, the proteins are not going to clump together. This will decrease/eliminate his hot break and the amount of coagulated/clumped protein. To my understanding, this and yeast sticking to it are the main components of krausen. If there is not hot break and coagulated protein, more of the hop trub will be suspended in the wort as well, which I would think would inhibit yeast growth.

You are absolutely right about clarity being affected too, for the same reason. The way it would affect flavor is more yeast ultimately being suspended in the finished beer, since it didn’t cling to yeast when the yeast flocs.

If happy with the beer though, who cares and keep at it :cheers:

I never thought about krausen as a factor to judge quality of beer or process. It is true that the amount of krausen is a factor of both yeast strain and fermentation temperature, and by keeping the temperature low enough and fermenting in a vessel with enough head space (I use 25 liter buckets), blow off is never an issue, but maybe there is more to it than that. If it is caused by a weak boil, it could be that you are making beer with a higher protein content that will affect stability over the long run. That would manifest as beer going bad more quickly than it should. Not sure if that is a problem for you or not.

Maybe time for an experiment? As you are using a stove top, simply split your batch in half and boil each half separately. Boil the first at full power, and the second turned down to mimic the boil you usually get. Let us know the results.

Just spit balling here, but what are you cleaning your fermenters with? I ask because head retention issues are sometimes addressed by changing the manner in which glasses are cleaned. Granted krausen and the head on a pint are two very different things, but the vigor of your boil seems like a much less likely culprit.

Early in my brewing career I went through a period of time when my boils weren’t as vigorous as I would have liked, but I had aggressive blow offs during that period, so I think the boil vigor thesis is a dead alley.

Head retention on mine has been… mixed.

Most of them have been pretty average, but a couple have been quite good. That being said, I’ve never had “proper” lacing down the glass, even with the brews that have a good solid head on them.

I haven’t had any issues with beer stability, although the longest any particular brew has lasted before being drunk is about 12 months.

Fermentors are cleaned with unscented Napisan (Sodium Percarbonate), then rinsed out several times and left to soak with hot water before sanitising.

[quote=“Cangrejo”]Just spit balling here, but what are you cleaning your fermenters with? I ask because head retention issues are sometimes addressed by changing the manner in which glasses are cleaned. Granted krausen and the head on a pint are two very different things, but the vigor of your boil seems like a much less likely culprit.

Early in my brewing career I went through a period of time when my boils weren’t as vigorous as I would have liked, but I had aggressive blow offs during that period, so I think the boil vigor thesis is a dead alley.[/quote]
I doubt what he’s cleaning his fermenters with is the issue and I really believe that boil vigor is not the factor for a vigorous fermentation. I just don’t see what would cause lack of krausen, even if the boil was a simmering boil. But, I don’t know the exact science behind it either.
Pitch more yeast, aerate plenty, ferment at the proper temp and don’t worry about it.

[quote=“Beersk”] I doubt what he’s cleaning his fermenters with is the issue and I really believe that boil vigor is not the factor for a vigorous fermentation. I just don’t see what would cause lack of krausen, even if the boil was a simmering boil. But, I don’t know the exact science behind it either.
Pitch more yeast, aerate plenty, ferment at the proper temp and don’t worry about it.[/quote]

Boil is the weak point in my process. That’s the only reason why I’m guessing boil may have something to do with it. I have no science or reasoning other than that. I pitch plenty of yeast, use pure O2, and have dedicated fermentation control. My fermentations usually finish in 3 days and drop clear after a week or two. It’s a non issue, issue. Not really causing a problem other than I don’t know why its happening.

How much krausen do you usually get? A couple inches? It doesn’t need to go crazy to be a healthy fermentation. I don’t get crazy krausens either, no worries. Beer finishes where it should, it’s clean and tasty. I’d say too much blow off is indicative of either the yeast strain or too warm a fermentation temperature or a high gravity beer with lots of fresh yeast. So worry not.

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