There have been countless articles written about how to get your beer to be less foamy. In this article, I will address the foaming issue as it pertains to the unit that your beer is being dispensed from (eg: Kegerator). In particular, I will address two issues that I found with the Nostalgia KRS2100 that had to be addressed before my beer was pouring every pint without foam.
First, admit that foam is a problem. It is important to reduce foam – after all, you worked so hard on your homebrew, you don’t want much of it to go to waste as foam, do you? Don’t listen to those who say “its just foam, it will turn into beer”, thats lazy-person talk.
This article assumes that you have addressed and/or corrected any of the following issues, which can also contribute to foam:
- Dissassemble your Sanke coupler and tap assembly and soak them in Sanitizer overnight – I recommend StarSan at a ratio of .05ml to 32oz of water. Let them soak, then give them a good scrubbing with some pipe cleaners. Reassemble and test. If you aren’t running a Sanke setup, disassemble and sanitize your corny keg connectors.
- Replace your beer line with known good, 3/16″ beverage line.
- Use beer line that is 8 feet long
- Adjust your regulator so that there is 5-12PSI of pressure in your keg.
- 48 hour keg rest after transport if you’ve driven it anywhere
- Coil your beer line in the top recessed portion of your keg (eg: around the Sanke coupler)
If the above have been addressed and are not an issue, the following may be of some help. Even though I wrote these for the Nostalgia KRS2100 in particular, it may still be applicable to your Kegerator setup.
Issue Number 1: Not Cold Enough?
First thing first – grab a keg thermometer from Amazon and check the temperature of your keg. If it isn’t in the mid-low 40s (or whatever is appropriate for your beer), then your Kegerator may not be cooling your beer enough.
On the back of the KRS2100 in the bottom left corner there is a small black knob that allows you to adjust how cold the Kegerator is. Make sure that this knob is set all the way to the coldest setting. If it isn’t, set it to max and wait an hour or two. If it is, there is a modification that you can do to your Kegerator to make it colder.
Crank That Baby Up
(unplug your Kegerator first, just to be safe)
- Pull off the knob of the thermostat, just pull it straight out it will push back on.
- Take off the two screws that hold the entire thermostat housing onto the side of the fridge
- Take off the two screws that hold the thermostat to the metal casing
- Turn the screw that is right above the post that the thermostat knob pushes onto clockwise.
Now, this screw will turn and turn, and no matter how much you turn it it will not stop turning. The reason for this is that this screw adjusts the tension of the coils inside of the thermostat unit. The tighter the coils, the colder your Kegerator can get
If you turn this screw too far, it will eventually loosen up the coils, and your Kegerator will not get as cold. To ensure what you are doing is making your Kegerator colder, look down inside the small hole next to the screw as you turn it – you should see the coils tighten. If not, just keep turning until they get tighter.
A few times adjusting this screw and you will have your Kegerator fine tuned and cold. Drink a few pints to make sure the foaming problem has gone away.
(photo credit and information distilled from a long conversation here)
Issue Number 2: Warm Kegerator Tower
Lets say your Kegerator is keeping your beer nice and frigid, you have clean lines, and everything is clean, yet you are still pouring foamy beers!
One thing that causes a lot of foam is if the tower of the Kegerator is too warm. The tower is the part that sticks out above the fridge where the beer is and before the tap, through which the line runs. The tower is sometimes referred to as the “neck”.
Its common for many of us to stick our Kegerators in a garage to reduce noise, and in doing so the ambient temperature may rise, causing the tower of the Kegerator to be too warm. As beer sits in the tower waiting for the next pour, it warms up and causing foaming.
A good test to see if this is your issue, is to pour two pints of beer into two tilted glasses. The first pint should have a lot of foam, and the second pint should be pouring relatively foam free. If this is the case, then the tower of your Kegerator is too warm.
Cool That Tower
There are a couple of things you can do to ensure that the tower of your Kegerator keeps cool. Personally, I did both of these things, and enjoy foam free beer from my unit. Your mileage may vary, but I found that the combination of these both resulted in very cold beer.
Copper Pipe and Insulation
- Unscrew the tower of your Kegerator and measure the inner diameter of the opening
- Go to Home Depot and buy
- Turn off your C02, bleed the excess C02 out of your Keg, and disassemble the tap
Before installing the pipe, it is important to note that depending on the size of keg you are putting into your Kegerator, you may need to cut the copper pipe down 6-8 inches (eg: if you have a 15g keg that uses most of the space).
- Wrap the copper pipe in Foam and Foil Pipe Wrap Insulation – there should be enough insulation that the pipe is hard to push into the Kegerator through the hole the tower sits above – this ensures a good seal.
- Push the pipe down into the Kegerator, and be sure to leave enough room above the pipe to reassemble your tap.
- Reassemble your tap.
- Use some more insulation and insulate the lid to the tower and around the top of the pipe, leaving very little of your beer line exposed.
Force Air into the Tower
Now that your copper pipe is providing for a good insulated channel that cold air can flow into, its time to invest in a tower chiller. The copper pipe and insulation alone may not be enough to prevent your first pour from being foamy.
- Purchase a Coldtower Kegerator Cooler (Amazon)
- Cut a slit in the plastic hose about 4 inches long
- During installation, wrap the plastic hose around your beer line and shove it up into the copper pipe that runs into the tower.
After a couple of days, even with the insulated copper pipe in place, you will notice that the tower of your kegerator is much colder than the surrounding environment, and you will notice that your beers are pouring without much foam at all.
Hope this helps!