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How does silicone affect beer foam?

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Michael Starr • Cincinnati, Ohio asks,
Q

I am currently a graduate student studying materials science (polymer focus) and a teaching assistant for a professor who is considered an expert on the subject of silicones. Recently he informed our students that some form of silicon is used in the brewing of beer to reduce the amount of foam. I’m assuming this is referring to the fermentation process, but I may be wrong. I see the scientific reasoning behind this idea but my question is are there commercial brewers or homebrewers who actually use silicon during any part of their brewing? And if so, how and what type of effects could this have on the flavor and body of the final product, if any?

A
  The professor you are working for is correct to state that some brewers use anti-foams and it is also true that these compounds are silicon-based. Dimethylpolysiloxane, in the form of a
Response by Ashton Lewis.