Whether you’re an accomplished home brewer or a complete novice, you’ll know there are few things as beautiful to watch as the development of a quality brew.
It’s a fascinating process, and one aspect that’s loved by many is the formation of Krausen.
Even if you’re not familiar with the term, we promise you’ll know EXACTLY what we’re talking about. Let’s take a deep dive into the ins and outs of Krausen below.
How To Pronounce Krausen
Krausen is a German word meaning “foam” or “curds.” Krausen is pronounced like the English word “Krause”, which means “spoon.”
So, despite the unusual spelling, it’s not as much of a tongue twister as it may first appear!
What Is Krausen & What Is It Made Of?
So, what exactly is Krausen?
Well, it’s actually made up of two different things: yeast cells and CO2 gas.
The yeast cells float on top of your wort (the liquid in which your beer will be brewed) and create foam.
This foam helps to aerate your wort, which allows for better oxygenation and carbon dioxide removal.
The CO2 gas can also help to remove some of the oxygen from your wort so it doesn’t get oxidized too quickly.
Essentially, Krausen is a natural part of the brewing process, but it can be artificially created through the use of certain ingredients.
Some people prefer this method because it produces a more consistent product than using naturally occurring Krausen. We won’t go into too much detail on this just yet.
Is Krausen Bad For Your Beer?
There’s no doubt about it – Krausen is very good at removing unwanted elements from your wort. However, it does have its downsides.
First off, the foam itself isn’t always desirable. If left unchecked, it can become quite messy and even cause problems when pouring your finished beer out of the fermenter.
Secondly, Krausen can sometimes cause problems during fermentation. When the yeast cells start to break down, they release alpha-amylase enzymes.
These enzymes can degrade starches and sugars, causing them to turn into alcohol instead of sugar. This can lead to stuck fermentations and other issues.
In addition, Krausen can also contribute to the loss of hop aroma and flavor.
Since the hops are often added towards the end of the boil, once the wort has cooled down, the hops are usually removed before adding the yeast.
As the yeast starts to work, it consumes all the available sugars and starches. Once these nutrients are gone, the yeast stops working.
That’s why it’s important to add the hops early on in the boil. They provide essential nutrients that allow the yeast to continue working throughout the rest of the boil.
This is where the Krausen comes in.
Because the yeast cells are floating on the surface of the wort, they don’t consume any of the available sugars and are starched until they reach the bottom of the kettle.
At this point, they begin consuming everything, including the hops. By the time the wort reaches the fermenter, most of the hops have been consumed.
So, while the yeast continues to produce CO2 and foam, the hops are essentially wasted.
This is why it’s important to keep Krausen under control. If you let it build up too high, it could prevent the yeast from completing its job.
In fact, if the foam gets too thick, it can completely block the airlock and stop the fermentation process altogether.
How Do I Control Krausen?
There are several ways to control Krausen. First, you can either pitch an active starter culture or simply pitch a small amount of dry yeast directly into your primary fermenter.
Another option would be to pitch a slurry of dried malt extract and a small amount of dry malt extract.
You’ll want to make sure that you’re pitching enough yeast to account for the volume of your wort.
A standard 5-gallon batch should require anywhere between 1/4 teaspoon to 1/3 teaspoon of dry yeast per gallon (1/8 ounce to 1/6 ounce).
The exact amount will depend on how strong your wort will be and what type of yeast you choose.
If you’re planning on making a large batch of beer, consider using a yeast nutrient as well. Yeast nutrients contain nitrogenous compounds that help feed the yeast cells.
Some people get better results by adding yeast nutrients after the initial pitch. Others prefer to use them right away.
Either way works fine. Just remember that adding yeast nutrients can increase the risk of overpitching.
If you do decide to go with a starter culture, you’ll need to make sure that you’ve got some fresh wort around.
You can take a sample of your pre-boil wort and pitch it into a separate container. Then, just wait for the krausen to form and then transfer the wort back into the main vessel.
Another method that many brewers swear by is to add a small amount of corn sugar to the wort during the boil. This helps to reduce the amount of krausen that forms.
However, you may not like the taste of corn syrup. If that’s the case, you can try adding a small amount of molasses instead.
Molasses contains fructose which is similar to glucose. When combined with dextrose, it provides a much more balanced mix than pure sucrose.
The last thing you want to worry about when brewing is getting stuck with many dead yeast cells at the end of the brew day.
That’s why it’s so important to remove all of the spent grains from the mash tun before racking off to secondary. There’s no reason to leave those little guys behind.
They’ll continue to eat through the wort and eventually die.
Can Krausen Go Away?
Here’s another commonly asked question: can krausen go away? The answer is yes, it absolutely can.
In fact, most brewers agree that the best way to achieve this is to simply let your wort sit for longer before pitching your yeast.
The longer your wort sits, the less likely it is that any krausen will form. However, if you decide to pitch your yeast at the beginning of fermentation, you should expect to see some krausen.
If you want to avoid this, then you need to keep your wort at a lower temperature during the initial stages of fermentation.
Why Does Krausen Matter?
As mentioned above, Krausen plays an important role in the brewing process.
When you look at the final product, it’s hard to notice the difference between beers that have been fermented with Krausen and those that haven’t.
But when you taste them side-by-side, you’ll immediately realize why krausen matters.
The foam produced by Krausen adds a lot of head retention to your beer.
As such, it makes the finished product look fuller and more appealing. It also gives your beer a nice smooth mouthfeel.
The foam also acts as a barrier against oxidation. Oxidation occurs when oxygen gets mixed into the beer, and it causes off flavors and colors to develop.
By adding foam to your beer, you’re helping to prevent these problems.
If you don’t add foam to your beer, then you run the risk of having a flat-tasting beer.
Of course, you might even end up with a hazy appearance. This isn’t ideal, especially if you’re looking to produce a high-quality product.
Is There A Way To Prevent Krausen From Forming?
Well, there are ways to reduce the amount of krausen that forms, but none of them are 100% foolproof. One common trick is to add flaked oats to your wort.
These act as nuclei around which the yeast cells can grow. They also provide extra nutrients for the yeast, which means that they’ll be able to ferment faster.
Another option is to increase the amount of dissolved oxygen in your wort. This can be done by boiling your water prior to adding it to your kettle.
Boiling removes some oxygen from the water, reducing the amount of oxygen available to react with your malt extract.
You could also try adding crushed coriander seeds to your wort.
Coriander has a strong flavor, so it may not work well in small quantities, but it can help to reduce the amount of Krausen formed.
Finally, you could try adding hops to your wort. Hops contain alpha acids, which are responsible for imparting bitterness to your beer.
Alpha acids tend to inhibit the growth of yeast cells, which means that they should limit the amount of Krausens that form.
However, all of these methods come with their own drawbacks. For example, adding crushed coriander seeds or crushed oat flakes to your wort can make your beer bitter.
Similarly, adding hops to your worts can cause unwanted flavors to develop.
Is Krausen An Indicator Of Fermentation?
Krausen is one of the first signs of active fermentation. While it doesn’t always mean that your beer is ready to drink, it does indicate that fermentation is underway.
When judging whether your beer is ready to bottle, you need to wait until the last few bubbles disappear before bottling. If you do this, then you won’t have any issues with corking or other problems.
In addition, you should check your specific gravity after two weeks of fermentation. The higher the number, the better.
Ideally, you want to see numbers close to 1.000. Anything below that indicates that fermentation hasn’t started yet.
How Do I Know If My Beer Has Finished Fermenting?
Once your beer reaches its final gravity, you know that fermentation is complete. At this point, you’ll want to rack your beer into bottles and store it somewhere cool.
Lots Of Krausen, But No Airlock Activity: What Does It Mean?
If you notice lots of krausen on top of your beer but no airlock activity, then you’ve probably hit a problem. Airlocks are used to measure the carbon dioxide pressure inside your keg.
When the CO2 levels rise above a certain level, the valve opens and allows gas to escape.
This prevents excessive pressure buildup, which would force the lid off the keg.
However, if the CO2 levels drop too low, then the valve will remain closed. In this case, you’ll end up with an over-pressurized keg, leading to serious damage.
The best way to avoid this situation is to monitor the CO2 levels regularly throughout the entire process. You can do this using a hydrometer, which measures the density of your beer.
Airlocks are usually placed at the bottom of the fermenter, where there’s less chance of them being damaged by high pressures.
Beer With Krausen On Top: Should It Be Racked?
There are some cases when you might want to leave krausen on the surface of your beer. This is especially true if you’re planning on serving your beer directly from the carboy.
Some people like to serve beers with a lot of foam because it makes drinking easier, while others prefer to pour their beers without as much foam.
While most brewers agree that you shouldn’t let krausen sit in your beer for more than 24 hours, others say it’s fine to leave it on top for longer periods.
You’ll just need to be careful about how long you leave it on top. If you don’t remove it soon enough, then it may start to affect the taste of your beer.
Do I Have To Rack A Batch After Bottling?
Racking isn’t necessary unless you plan on serving your beer straight out of the bottle. If you do decide to rack, then you’ll want to use a siphon hose instead of a racking cane.
Racking canals often get clogged during the transfer process. Using a siphon hose ensures that your beer gets transferred properly.
Homebrewing is both fun and rewarding. Krausen is a very natural part of the homebrewing process, and most homebrewers love to watch it form – as we’ve already said, it’s quite a spectacle!
However, you should never allow krausen to stay on top of your beer for too long. Doing so could cause problems later on down the road.
We recommend keeping a close eye on your krausen, and if you want to play it safe, follow the advice of many established home brewers and don’t keep the krausen on top of your beer for more than 24 hours.
Krausen may look strange, and while it can certainly have its downfalls, it also offers a lot of benefits for your beer.
So, before you go trying to remove it straight away, we encourage you to sit back, relax, and watch it form!
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