Brewing & Distilling

Confessions of a Homebrewing Chemical Salesman

We’ve all seen it – the mechanic whose own car doesn’t run very well, or the house painter whose home is in dire need of painting. This exact thing happened to me. I have been brewing beer at home since 1989, and selling antifoams to the brewing industry since the mid-1990s as part of my job, but I actually never tried any Birko antifoam in my own batch of homemade beer until my latest one. Why? There are several reasons why it took me so long to use antifoam in my own beer but here is the reason I finally decided to try it:

The batch before my latest one was almost a complete disaster. I had a lot of foaming during fermentation and lost a lot of beer on a very expensive batch of barleywine. I knew I needed to do something different on my next batch.

Patco 376

I decided to take home a couple ounces of Patco 376, a canola oil-based antifoam. It is also a good kettle defoamer, so I added a few drops before the boil was reached. It did an excellent job of keeping the foam down during the boil. After the boil, while the wort was still hot, I added a few more drops to see if it would help keep the foam down during fermentation later on. Long story made short, it worked like a charm! Not only did it keep the foam down during fermentation, but the foam that did occur didn’t even make its way up to the dome of the glass carboy. That had never happened in over 100 batches of beer!

My latest batch with Patco 376 added has been bottle-conditioning for a couple of weeks and I just put one in the fridge. I plan to sample it this weekend to see how it tastes, but I know from all of my customers who have used Patco 376 religiously for years that it does not negatively affect flavor or head retention. I can’t wait to try it.

Don’t believe me? They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are two thousand words’ worth. The first picture is my fermenter of barleywine without using Patco 376, and a picture of my latest batch of very malty brown ale called “What The Fuggles?” with the Patco 376 added. Viva la difference!

Bottomline: I plan to use Patco 376 in every batch of beer I make from here on out!

Batch Without Using Patco 376
Batch Using Patco 376