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I've been testing out my brigalow homebrew! All the reviews I've found said its one of the worst kit beers out! Being my very first home brew... can't comment on comparison but can say that by tweaking the instructions a bit... I've now got a beautiful beer! I've no idea of ales, lagers, and all of that!

Carbonation is not too bad but very little head. How do I change that? How do you know if it has completed the carbonation process? Does carbonation and head retention go hand in hand?

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If the beer seems well carbonated, it is possible that the problem could be with your glassware. Some detergents, particularly dishwasher rinse agents or those with drying agents can put a film on your glass that can cause poor head retention, but if you're not having the issue with other beers (commercially bought, for example), then this may not be the cause of your problem.

An alternative could be the type of malt used in the recipe. I believe, though would struggle to elaborate being new to the homebrew scene myself too, that the proteins in the malt can aid head retention of the final beer and some malts offer more of this type of protein. It could be the kit that you used may have been closer to the end of its shelf life or that the proteins which aid head retention in the particular malt used by the producer are not as prominent as in other malts.

  • I do find that its not well carbonated....personally Id like more carbonation! Buy it certainly isnt flat! Maybe with some more time it might become better.....Ive been documenting every move since starting the brew 18/12/19 through bottling at 31/12 and only complains I have is head and carbonation...only little buy still. – Jaco Groenewald Feb 11 '17 at 21:51
  • Sounds like you've got it under control. Aside from playing around with the recipe at priming - maybe try carbonation drops in the bottle rather than a priming solution (or vice versa if that's what you did this time) - then some home brew shops sell "heading agents" which are intended to achieve better head and retention. Wouldn't play around with priming too much though, bearing in mind bottle bombs. – SteveMalyj Feb 11 '17 at 22:05
  • Thank you! I used the drops. Ill definitely look into heading agents. – Jaco Groenewald Feb 12 '17 at 1:20
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Most kits include a can of "malt extract" and some yeast to which one adds some sugar and a lot of water before fermenting it. IMHO the best (and perhaps most natural) way to improve "head" and "body" of a kit beer is to add more pale malt extract instead of sugar. An equal measure of liquid malt extract or a little less dry extract will do. The measurement does not need to be very precise. Doing that will "thicken" the beer by adding a small amount protein and a lot of polysaccharides that will, amongst other things, improve the structural quality of the foam and aid head retention. One can increase the head developing potential by using wheat malt extract not just barley malt extract. (The next step would be to buy and use pure malt extract and add your own choice of hops). IMHO the main reason many "economic" beer kits don't foam well is because there is not much on them.

Carbonation can be achieved in several ways and some are more reproducible that others. The simplest way is to add a known amount of sugar to the brew after fermentation has finished and then bottle/keg it. I prefer adding this to the beer by transferring the beer from the brew bucket onto a solution of the sugar in a clean bucket. That takes the beer off the dropped trub/yeast in the brew bucket and allows me to uniformly mix in the sugar without making the beer cloudy. I find 120g of sugar per 24 litres of beer gives a mild carbonation and 150g sugar(or dextrose) per 24l gives a good gassy carbonation. Other prefer to add measured amounts of sugar to each bottle. 3g of sugar/glucose per 500ml bottle will give a reasonable carbonation. Friends have used one heaped teaspoon of sugar (via a funnel) for each 500ml bottle. IIRC carbonation drops are usually designed/dosed for 330ml bottles and the recommendation is to use 2 for 500ml bottles.If you have carbonation drops they are convenient to use but IMHO they are not worth buying as one can use sugar to carbonate as easily and more cheaply.

  • Well...thanx for that! Yes....I used 2 drops per bottle....600ml PET bottles. My next brew will definitely not be a kit! Having said that....after bottling Ive put some bottles in the fridge for 6weeks then RT for another 10 days and then chilled.....those are beautiful! Ive tried different things with some bottles and worked out ok! – Jaco Groenewald Feb 19 '17 at 23:22

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