use of Ferm-Cap
Is anyone out there using Ferm-Cap to get more capacity out of your equipment? How is it used, and where do you use it? Did you notice any changes in hop utilization, foam retention, etc? I am considering using it to try to squeeze more out of our process, but can't find much info on it.
Fermcap is designed to reduce the amount of krausen in the fermenter, thereby allowing you to have more capacity from kettle to fermenter. However, I have been using it for a few years in the kettle to reduce foaming during the boil. I find that I can put more in the kettle without having to worry about it boiling over. This also makes clean-up mcuh easier.
I've used it in fermenters and it does a great job of keeping down the foam. It doesn't interact with the beer other than to float on top and keep the surface tension too low for bubbles to grow (it's been a few years, hopefully I remember that right!). Anyway, it's inert, and filters out entirely.
I routinely used Fermcap in both my kettle and fermenters but eventually discovered a much better product - Anti-Foam from Birko. We usually used Birko's recommendations on the fermenters. On the kettle boil I used 42 grams of Anti-Foam for a 22 bbl boil. With the higher gravity beers or wheat beers that tended to foam more I used 63 grams in the kettle. I think Fermcap and Birko Anti-Foam both actually increased head retention in the finished beer because the beer does not foam as much in the fermenter. Excessive foaming in the fermenter not only causes losses through blowoff of product, but uses a lot of the proteins needed in head retention later.
As pointed out above, the Fermcap, and the Anti-Foam sit mostly on top of the fermenting beer, so you want to be careful not to pump that last bit of beer through your filter! We did once and the DE filter was clogged before we even knew what was happening.
For more information, or to order Anti-Foam call Dana Johnson at 1-800-525-0476. No, I don't work for Birko - just a satisfied customer.
Do any of you use ferm-cap or the antifoam on any product that you don't filter? I've never seen this before and am interested, but I only filter my lagers, not any of my ales and it sounds like I don't want this transfered into my serving vessel. Thanks in advance.
Birko AF 100 definitely requires filtration since it is silicone based. You may want to contact Birko and ask about their antifoaming agent Pactate 100. It is a vegetable/canola oil based product that can be added either to the whirlpool or kettle. According to the vendor the oil is metabolized by yeast during fermentation which allows the beer to remain unfiltered without effecting beer foam. I haven't used this particular Birko product but should you give it a try I would like to hear how it worked for you. Best of luck!