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Thread: Cider foaming and losing carb

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Salt spring island bc Canada
    Posts
    31

    Cider foaming and losing carb

    Hi all,

    The local pub is now serving my cider in kegs and it’s foaming and losing a lot of carb. (This is my first time working with kegs so any advice will help). They’ve got us on a very simple system: Direct from the keg, which is sitting in a bucket of ice, through a plate chiller, and out the tap. It’s about 8’ from keg to plate chiller, and another 3’ to the tap. But half the glass is foam and when you drink it, it’s just about flat.

    So, I wonder what to do? We found that 30 psi seemed to retain the most carb, but it’s hardly acceptable. Does anyone have any ideas about how to improve the pour and retain the carb?

    Thanks,

    Mike

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Kent, WA
    Posts
    297
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Lachelt View Post
    Hi all,

    The local pub is now serving my cider in kegs and it’s foaming and losing a lot of carb. (This is my first time working with kegs so any advice will help). They’ve got us on a very simple system: Direct from the keg, which is sitting in a bucket of ice, through a plate chiller, and out the tap. It’s about 8’ from keg to plate chiller, and another 3’ to the tap. But half the glass is foam and when you drink it, it’s just about flat.

    So, I wonder what to do? We found that 30 psi seemed to retain the most carb, but it’s hardly acceptable. Does anyone have any ideas about how to improve the pour and retain the carb?

    Thanks,

    Mike
    By plate chiller, do you mean one of the jockey box plate chillers, where there's a stainless tube embedded in an aluminum plate at the bottom of the ice chest? Those don't work as well, and need to be in constant contact with the ice, and you drain any water that accumulates. If they have to use a jockey box, the coil type works MUCH better. Typically they have 100 feet of a larger SS line (like 1/4 inch in the US), and 20 feet of choker line (3/16 inch). Keep the jockey box full of ice and water, and run the pressure at least 30-40 psi. It will over carb if left on, so at the end of the day, I would disconnect the keg, and bleed the excess pressure. If you use one of these, you don't really need to ice the keg itself, though it helps.

    If by plate chiller you mean one of those heat exchanger plate chillers (e.g. duda diesel type), this doesn't seem like a simple system at all.

    If you're unfamiliar with kegging, you've probably never heard of the Draft Quality Manual. I highly recommend downloading the PDF and reading it over until you understand it. It covers nearly any situation you can imagine.

    http://www.draughtquality.org/wp-con...ads/DBQM17.pdf

    The draughtquality.org site has a lot of good info on it as well.

    Regards,
    Mike Sharp

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    MO.
    Posts
    16
    30 PSI is way too high a CO2 pressure. You are overcarbonating, which results in the foaming. Back off to 10-13 PSI. Cider can withstand some overcarbonation better than beer does but you don't want much over 3 volumes ever.

    Keg cider should be treated in the same manner as keg beer. Follow the same line pressure and size protocols as recommended for beer.

    It also is possible that your cider is having other problems such as a malo-lactic fermentation, or has some particulates that cause additional foaming. Are you using sulfites, pasteurization, or another method to prevent refermentation of any backsweetening?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Palau
    Posts
    1,927

    If your cider is warm...

    ...and you serve it cold from a jockey box, then you want your CO2 pressure high. Very high. Carbonation tables rarely go that high. Find one that does. You need a stable temperature and a stable pressure. Base your CO2 pressure on a carbonation chart for your cider temperature. Pressure could be as high as 40-60psi. That is what it takes for CO2 to stay dissolved in a warm liquid. Lots of pressure. Best to serve on a refrigerated tap system. Jockey boxes rarely pour perfect.
    Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Enterprise, Oregon
    Posts
    1,721
    If you have to use a jockey-box, get a coil type for the reasons listed above. We have two we use for events, both of which were originally plate-type. I threw the plates away and replaced them with coils and life has been much better since.

    Even 'though you technically don't need to ice your keg with a coil JB, do so anyway. It will make it much easier to balance your draught system.

    And, as noted above, the Draught Beer Quality Manual is your best friend. While you shouldn't need to be setting up draught systems for your customers, a good pour is the best advertising you can have. No one blames the pub when they get a bad pour--they associate it with your product instead.
    Timm Turrentine

    Brewerywright,
    Terminal Gravity Brewing,
    Enterprise. Oregon.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    MO.
    Posts
    16
    Carbonation charts for higher temperatures are available free in Zahm & Nagel catalogues. Their main use is for the testing equipment for air and CO2 levels in bottles or cans. To maintain 2.8 volumes at 40*F takes 14#, at 50* takes 20#. 60*F takes 27#, 70* takes 34#, 80* takes 42#.

    But you said you have a keg in ice, and a plate cooler also kept under ice. So the temperature should be under 50* if they resupply the ice. A high pressure may keep the carbonation up in the keg, but....... the cider will foam up as it comes out of the spout when it sees a sudden pressure drop at the fill. Luckily cider foam collapses fairly quickly.

    Another issue you may want to keep in mind are the laws concerning the carbonation of wine, which cider is. At levels of 3.2 or higher officialdom could decide that you are producing a "champagne." Not sure what the rates are right now but they were 17 cents / gal for still wine and $3.60 / gal for champagne. Wineries are very careful about using much CO2 head pressure on their tanks because of this.

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