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No head on my beers

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Roddy

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Location: Princeton,MN

Post Tue Jul 08, 2008 8:40 pm

No head on my beers

I have now brewed 3 batches. NB #8, NB Extra Pale Ale, and NB Cherry Stout. I also have a NB Honey Weissen but have yet to crack one open. I have yet to be able to get a big thick head on any of the beers. If I do a splash pour, I may be able to get a 1/4-1/2" head. If I pour slowly, I get no head. What could I be doing wrong?
Primary: Lefse Blonde, Pale Citra Ale
Kegged: Lord Fat bottom, Bourbon Vanila Porter,Black IPA
Secondary: Surly Darkness Clone
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Weazletoe

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Location: Name's Barry. Three Taverns Brewery "It ain't ideal, but it doesn't suck" Warren, Ohio

Post Tue Jul 08, 2008 8:44 pm

Try taking your beer to dinner first.




Seriously, could be your glass, if there are any types of oils left on it from washing, this will kill head. I wash all mine with straight water, and a sponge on a stick. No issues then.
A man works hard all week, so he doesn't have to wear pants all weekend.
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Taylor-MadeAK

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Post Tue Jul 08, 2008 10:32 pm

Stop putting your beer glasses in the dishwasher with the little detergent+rinse aid dishwasher bubbles. Seriously. There aren't many things that kill beer foam faster than that rinse aid stuff. Hand wash all of your beer glasses in hot water, using unscented dish detergent (e.g. Ivory) when necessary. Allow beer glasses to drip dry in a dish rack before storing upside-down (to keep dust out) in your cupboard until their next use.
Primary: Nothing. Gainfully employed now, but still broke.
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Bottled: Saké 2010
Make some sake.
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redbeerman

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Post Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:49 am

+1 It is best to wash your glasses by hand and rinse very well. Another question, how is the carbonation in your brew?
"Every man has to believe in something, I believe I'll have another beer."
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majorvices

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Post Wed Jul 09, 2008 5:20 am

Everyone always wants to jump on the "It's the glass's" fault bandwagon when rarely is that really the problem. Glass condition does have some effect on head retention - but compared to other factors it is minimal.

I put my glasses in the dishwasher and never have a problem. The only thing rinse-aid does is reduces the lacing action. Some soap residue, grease and unclean glass wear may reduce head retention, it is true. But you will get foam on your beer - it just dies away after time.

Real problems with head formation come from sloppy fermentation practices. When fusel oils are present in the beer they can kill beer foam very quickly. What temp to you pitch your yeast? What temp do you ferment your beer? Do you pitch enough yeast? Few new brewers do any of the above properly and I would highly suspect that this is the crux of Roddy's problem.

Here's some required reading for all brewers who suffer head retention problems: http://byo.com/departments/1410.html
Last edited by majorvices on Wed Jul 09, 2008 5:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
- Keith Y.
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Ein Prosit, der gemutlichkeit!
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Downeastah

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Post Wed Jul 09, 2008 6:05 am

Is there any evidence mash temps can affect head retention? In a very non-scientific polling of my recent brews, my low mash efforts seem to hold a head less and leave less lacing on the glass. I could imagine dextrins would help in foam formation...

Steve
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majorvices

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Post Wed Jul 09, 2008 6:09 am

Downeastah wrote:Is there any evidence mash temps can affect head retention? In a very non-scientific polling of my recent brews, my low mash efforts seem to hold a head less and leave less lacing on the glass. I could imagine dextrins would help in foam formation...

Steve


Protein rests can cause head retention problems - especially long ones. Not sure about low mash temps however it would seem longer chains would allow for better foam. How low are we talking?
- Keith Y.
-------------------------
Ein Prosit, der gemutlichkeit!
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redbeerman

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Post Wed Jul 09, 2008 6:13 am

Good article. I guess because I pay attention to these things, it didn't really occur to me. My ale fermentations are rarely above 65F and I don't have head forming or retention issues. In my experience wheat malt does improve head retention, although I agree it is not a cure-all.
"Every man has to believe in something, I believe I'll have another beer."
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Roddy

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Location: Princeton,MN

Post Wed Jul 09, 2008 7:33 am

majorvices wrote:Everyone always wants to jump on the "It's the glass's" fault bandwagon when rarely is that really the problem. Glass condition does have some effect on head retention - but compared to other factors it is minimal.

I put my glasses in the dishwasher and never have a problem. The only thing rinse-aid does is reduces the lacing action. Some soap residue, grease and unclean glass wear may reduce head retention, it is true. But you will get foam on your beer - it just dies away after time.

Real problems with head formation come from sloppy fermentation practices. When fusel oils are present in the beer they can kill beer foam very quickly. What temp to you pitch your yeast? What temp do you ferment your beer? Do you pitch enough yeast? Few new brewers do any of the above properly and I would highly suspect that this is the crux of Roddy's problem.


My three most recent batches had a wort temp at about 80 degrees. Since I do partial boils, the wort was then added to 3 gallons of 52-degree water in my 6.5-gallon carboy. Is it possible my yeast may be pitched at too cold of a temp? The three batches in question fermented at 62-64 degrees. The two batches I have in secondary right now (Extra Pale Ale and Phat Tyre) may have reached temps in the low 70's while in secondary as I was on vacation for a couple of weeks and did not air condition the house while I was gone. Could this cause problems. Should I be adding dry yeast at bottling time?

If PBW is not rinsed well enough, could that affect head retention?

I believe my carbonation is fine. I am getting a loud sound of gasses escaping when I open the bottles.

As far as enough yeast, I made a yeast starter for all three using the Wyeast smack pack.

I will try rinsing my glasses in hot water, but commercial beer seems to have a head in my glasses.

Another question. Should I get a full head with a slow pour? If I do a slow pour, I am guessing I would have no head on the beer.
Primary: Lefse Blonde, Pale Citra Ale
Kegged: Lord Fat bottom, Bourbon Vanila Porter,Black IPA
Secondary: Surly Darkness Clone
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majorvices

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Post Wed Jul 09, 2008 7:38 am

Roddy wrote:
My three most recent batches had a wort temp at about 80 degrees.


This is most likely your problem - also, are you tracking ambient or actual fermentation temp?

Most ale yeast do better when pitched fairly cool. Always pitch at the very least below 70 degrees. 64 is usually "ideal" for most ale yeasts.
- Keith Y.
-------------------------
Ein Prosit, der gemutlichkeit!
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Roddy

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Joined: Sat May 03, 2008 5:22 pm

Location: Princeton,MN

Post Wed Jul 09, 2008 7:54 am

majorvices wrote:This is most likely your problem - also, are you tracking ambient or actual fermentation temp?

Most ale yeast do better when pitched fairly cool. Always pitch at the very least below 70 degrees. 64 is usually "ideal" for most ale yeasts.


80 degrees was the wort temp. I then added the wort to 3 gallons of 55 degree water in my primary. That should have given me a temp around 62 degrees.

I do check the temp daily in the room that the fermentation is taking place in. It never hit 65 degrees during winter or spring. Usually it was in the 62-63 degree range. I did not put a thermometer in fermenting beer to check the temp.
Primary: Lefse Blonde, Pale Citra Ale
Kegged: Lord Fat bottom, Bourbon Vanila Porter,Black IPA
Secondary: Surly Darkness Clone
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majorvices

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Post Wed Jul 09, 2008 9:07 am

Roddy - (I like that name because it's my dad's name :) ) - the actual temperature of the beer can be as much as 6-8+ degrees over ambient. You can pick up the stick on "fermometers" that will give you a surprisingly accurate temperature reading on what is going on inside your carboy/buckt. If you are pitching at around 80 degrees fermentation is starting off very quickly most likely. So a majority of you fermentation is probably taking place at well above the recommended temp. In fact - some of it may take place in the mid 80s even as the thermal mass of the wort may take a long time to drop down to you ambient temp and the yeast is kicking off heat immediately.

Order a "fermometer" from NB or your LHBS and stick it on your fermenter. Next time after you collect your wort BEFORE you aerate and pitch your yeast stick your fermenter in a spare fridge or ice water bath. Let it cool down to the low to mid 60s (even if this takes several hours). Then aerate and pitch your yeast. If you basement stays in the low to mid 60s you may be alright for most US and English ale strains - but keep an eye on it. You don;t want the temp to go much higher than 70-72 if you can help it and the "sweet spot" is around 66-68 for most US/English strains. A solution as simple as a wet towel can help you knock 2-4 degrees off your fermentation temp. You will have better head retention and you beers will be much, much better too. Temperature control is one of the most important aspects in brewing. As important as sanitation! Maybe even more important!
- Keith Y.
-------------------------
Ein Prosit, der gemutlichkeit!
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Denny

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Location: Eugene OR

Post Wed Jul 09, 2008 9:59 am

Downeastah wrote:Is there any evidence mash temps can affect head retention? In a very non-scientific polling of my recent brews, my low mash efforts seem to hold a head less and leave less lacing on the glass. I could imagine dextrins would help in foam formation...

Steve


I don't think there's a correlation. At least not that I've seen.
Life begins at 60....1.060, that is.

www.dennybrew.com
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castillo1125

Post Sun Nov 23, 2008 1:54 pm

I agree that "beer clean" glassware is very important when it comes to beer foam and the persistency of a beers head. Ive read on forums that using salt or baking soda and a sponge/hot water will leave a glass "beer clean" (free of soap oils that kill beer foam). Ive taken it a step further and purchased "Beer clean glass cleaner" from Micromatic.com. All my beers hold great head. However, I still do not get great lacing from my beers, as most commercial beers that i drink do. Ive tried adding wheat malt (1-2lbs per 5 gallon batch) and this helps. A fellow brewer suggested torrified malts (barley, wheat) for great lacing. Ill try this in the brown ale i will be brewing soon. I do not want to add "heading agents" to my brews, i think that is cheating. How is great lacing achieved?? I want my foam sticky and to leave sheets of lace on every glass that the beer is poured into. Agressivley hopped beers tend to lace well (as ive seen in my IPA's) I believe due to the added proteins from the hops. However I dont want to brew IPA's all the time.

How do we get great lacing!?!?
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Old Guy

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Location: Windsor,Colo

Post Sun Nov 23, 2008 2:10 pm

Someone please answer this.I've always had good lacing, but now since I pitch yeast in my bottling bucket, I've cut back on my sugar because my heads are huge, and it seems like I have better carbonation.I'm getting heads from bottles like the heads I get from my CO2 kegs.
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