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What's the trick to get good head on your brew?

I’m now drinking from the second batch I ever brewed - Caribou Slobber. It has the “slightest” foam on top - not much at all. Is it different for every beer? I’ve got some Belgian Tripel IPA that will be ready in about a week - will that be a LOT better - or is there something I need to do???


If it’s an extract beer, it will generally have less foam because the extract has less proteins in it, which are the key to foam. Hoppier beers have better foam because the polyphenols in the hops bind the proteins in the beer and produce better foam. Finally, yeast pitching rate, health, and fermentation temp play a big role. See … techniques . It also contains some tests you can do to help determine what the issue might be. Some people will tell you to add protein heavy ingredients, like carapils, or flaked wheat or barley. Those will only help if you don’t have the other problems listed in the article I linked.

Cool - thanks much Denny!


Is the problem the carbonation level? Or the head retention?

The problem is head retention. It’s carbonated just fine. It has a little “foam” floating around on top, but no “real” head.

Ferment cool in the 60s, ensure your glassware is well rinsed and has zero soapy residue, and if all else fails, add 10% wheat or rye to the recipe. Problem solved.

Also give it plenty of time (for larger particles of crap to settle out). In lieu of wheat or rye, proteins and fermentation schedule being the same, time helps give lots of tiny bubbles. I have friends who complain about poor head and not quite right flavor…who turn out to have carbed at 30 PSI for two days then drank…only to find an awesome beer 2 weeks lager…I mean later…Freudian slip. :slight_smile:

Assuming you’ve dealt with the potential for dirty glassware, the most common thing that I’ve seen with homebrew to cause poor head retention is high fermentation temps. It’s summer, what are you doing for temp control?

I have a mini fridge that has a temp controller on it.

Thanks much all - I appreciate it!


When I moved into my current home I started to have head retention problems. I think it was the new well water. I now dilute and adjust my water and the problem went away.

I love a big foamy head on my beer. I guess it goes back to my childhood when the old man would let me have only the foam from his beer. I remember eating the foam from his reingold like ice cream. I don’t remember 6 packs in the fifties in our house anyway. He used to drive a beer truck and take me along in the summers. He would deliver cases of quart bottles to people’s houses. That’s what’s nice about fresh home brew, nice big head on the beer.

if you want to add grains i like using a bit of carafoam in my recipes when i want better head

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