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Beer foam / head

What makes the head on one beer so thick that lasts a long time and it can hold a coin while the next beer has a thin head which disappears very quickly?

I don’t have the answer, but my question is this: other than the visual, why is head on a beer important?? Seems like it’s an excuse for a short pour.

When I’m at a saloon, I actually dislike the fact that they often pour a beer with too large of a large head (and use cheater glasses, like the ridiculously pointless Sam Adams “pint”).

Having the right compounds in your wort…basically the correct proteins…and have solid processes.

Boil strong…for denaturing the right compounds…, pitch enough healthy yeast, oxygenate adequately, control fermentation temperatures, proper sanitation and the right amount of carbonation…basically sound brewhouse practices.

Basically an all grain wort should have enough of the proteins to produce a proper, lasting beer head…if your foam is weak or disappears quickly, you may need some flaked wheat or other “foam producing” grain source…but it’s more likely that something else in the process is creating anti-foaming agents in your beer. Fusel alcohols, and other compounds from less than healthy fermentation and bacterial/wild yeast infections are probably the two main culprits (outside of soapy/filmy/dirty glassware). Trappist brewery’s sometimes add wheat starch to the kettle due to the large amounts of sugar that are used in styles produced by these brewers, so if you use a large percentage of highly fermentable adjunct, you may suffer foam problems.

Hope some of that helps…

On the other hand the answer could be as simple as a dirty glass destroying the head.

This is a pretty good article:
http://www.byo.com/stories/article/indices/35-head-retention/697-getting-good-beer-foam-techniques

[quote=“Shadetree”]This is a pretty good article:
http://www.byo.com/stories/article/indices/35-head-retention/697-getting-good-beer-foam-techniques
[/quote]

Beat me to it, man!

Thanks for the answers and the link. I wasn’t clear enough in my original question. I was wondering why some store bought beers don’t form much of a head, or form a head which is gone in seconds. I assume they all follow a good process. Beyond the science, is it partially a funtion of beer styles?

[quote=“dforlow”]I assume they all follow a good process.[/quote]Why would you assume that? Beer is just like any other consumer product with quality ranging from exceptional to poor. Crappy brewers stay in business until people stop buying their beer. The link I posted is applicable to pro brewers as well as home.

There are many factors including the types and percentages of various grains used, the mash temperature and even the yeast and hops. The age, storage, temperature and service conditions of the beer could also affect it.

On top of the other things mentioned, one obvious factor is how highly carbonated the beer is to begin with. Low carbonation will give very little head.

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