Head retention

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by FreddieFred, Sep 22, 2020.

  1. FreddieFred

    FreddieFred New Member

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    On to my sixth brew now and the head retention seems patchy. My first two brews I won't talk about. My third brew was excellent and had consistent head retention. My fourth, a whitebeer, was a bit of a flop with virtually no head. My fifth whilst nice tasting usually only produced a small head.
    I've only had two bottles so far from my sixth brew. The first one had a good head and tasted very nice, the second bottle had a disappointing head and maybe didn't taste as nice, or that could just be me.

    Before I brew my seventh this Friday are there any tips you recommend for getting better head retention? I use a Grainfather.

    I had thought I was under priming before bottling but for the last brew I was definitely at the top end of the priming sugar range.
     
  2. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    If you've got inconsistent head and off flavors, your bottles probably aren't clean enough. In general you can add Carapils or Wheat for head retention but if your sanitation is getting in the way, it won't matter. Diacetyl production from off fermentation or slight infection either in the primary or in the bottle will kill head.
     
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  3. Megary

    Megary Well-Known Member

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    There are a lot of reasons why you can get poor head retention...malt bill, mash temp, hop schedule, etc. But one of the most common and easiest to check is the cleanliness of the glass itself.

    Glasses always look clean but you can't see that oily film that gets left behind from the dishwasher or liquid soap. That stuff is killer to head retention. Try this before you pour your next cold one: rinse the glass really, really well then wipe the inside dry with a paper towel or clean, lint free towel. That isn't the best way to clean the glass (baking soda probably is, but who wants to go through that??), but it should definitely help. A clean beer glass should leave parallel rings of foam as you drink.

    Beyond that, we would really need a deep dive into your recipes and process to give you a better answer.
     
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  4. FreddieFred

    FreddieFred New Member

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    My bottle cleaning process is rinse after pouring, then before bottling clean with bottle brush in warm water then put in dishwasher at 70C.
    I think I'll add dipping in a bucket with no-rinse sanitiser.

    Good tip about keeping glasses clean. I hadn't thought of glasses but the goblet shaped ones I am using now probably won't be helping.
    Time for new Tulip shaped glasses. :)

    I like coriander in my beer and I wonder if that's having an effect. Also I use Whirfloc and a yeast booster.

    Recipe after next I'll look at using flaked wheat.
     
  5. Daniel Parshley

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    Are you using a rinse aid (no spots and quick dry aid) in the dishwasher? I personally avoid the dishwasher for that reason. I use some wheat and it has improved head retention.
     
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  6. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    Try something super easy to see if it's the beer or the glass. Moisten the glass, and sprinkle with table salt. Using your hand, 'scrub' the salt into the glass all over, and around the rim. Then rinse well. That will remove any oils or detergent residue and should give you an ultra bar clean glass.
     
  7. Zambezi Special

    Zambezi Special Well-Known Member

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    My first thought was also the glass.
    I keep my beerglasses for beer only and clean with water
    Every so often, I fill the glass with water and salt, let stand for a bit and clean out with water.
    Fairly similar to what Yooper does ;)
     
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  8. FreddieFred

    FreddieFred New Member

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    I have cleaned all my glasses out with bicarb soda and have bought two others. I got the head retention problem with both :(

    Although one bottle I drank the head stood up well and then I remembered I bought a new box of 24 330ml bottles. So I'm thinking that it might well be I didn't sanitize the older bottles well enough. Which is really bloomin' annoying :mad: Anyway lesson learned there for sure.

    One other thing I live in an area of very hard water (CaCO3 at 302 mg/l) so I wonder if that will play its part?
     
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  9. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    I'd still try the salt scrub, as the bicarbonate won't really 'scrub' the glass clean.

    The high CaCo3 would impact mash pH and maybe cause astringency in your beer, but shouldn't impact head retention at all.
     
  10. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    I'd still try the salt scrub, as the bicarbonate won't really 'scrub' the glass clean.

    The high CaCo3 would impact mash pH and maybe cause astringency in your beer, but shouldn't impact head retention at all.
     
  11. Donoroto

    Donoroto Member

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    Besides cleanliness, which sanitizing has no impact upon, Megary noted other factors that can affect the head. But these would affect the whole batch, not just one pour.

    For one of my beers, I added a rest at about 145 F for 20 minutes to help extract the head-forming proteins 'more' from the mash, and I may be imagining it but it seems to have worked.
     
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  12. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    I dont know for sure but I dont treat my beer glasses half as well as I treat my fermentor and the heads usually pretty good on my beer.

    It's more than just the glass its mash temp and protines and such in your grist.

    If your finding your head retention is suffering as in can get a decent head on your pour and dissipates to nothing ontop of the glass.
    I'd start adding some carapils or wheat or unmalted barley to your grist like 5% finish your mash high as well at dextrine rest coupled with the clean glass I'm sure you'll be full of frothy goodness before long.

    If there is one thing I love that's some good head on my beer dont we all;).
     
  13. RalphK

    RalphK Member

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    Will Carahell or CaraMunich II do the same job? I am suffering the same fate. And I do love good head...
     
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  14. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Carahell is supposed to help but brulosophy sorts defunct or debunked that but they did the same with Carapils go figure.
    I rekon you cant go wrong with wheat.
    A good mash schedule might help.
    Caramel malts are supposed to aid in head retention but I'd try some wheat and see what you think.
     
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  15. Steve SPF

    Steve SPF Well-Known Member

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    Head retention is a really big deal for us here in the UK.

    I would echo any and all thoughts about glass cleanliness and add that beer line cleaning is just as important.

    I would also echo the thoughts about the type/style of glass. I always want nucleated glasses for carbonated beer now; always.

    Recipe wise I swear by torrefied wheat for head retention. I don't know what the science is but my brewing guru told me to use some and my head retention is generally pretty good
     
  16. Steve SPF

    Steve SPF Well-Known Member

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    Oh, and also meant to say that any bottles I use go through the same process as mentioned (the dishwasher) but get rinsed in a perbac solution as well just before filling. The lids sit in a perbac solution until they are used.
     
  17. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Brulosophy provides some decent guidance and ideas but their n=1 experiments are hardly science. I notice that packaging makes a difference: A bottled beer doesn't have the head or head retention of the same beer from the keg. I love what Brulosophy does, don't get me wrong. It's a test - you need reproducibility for it to be science.
     
  18. Daniel Parshley

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    [QUOTE="Trialben, post: 122155, member: 12410"
    I rekon you cant go wrong with wheat.
    Caramel malts are supposed to aid in head retention but I'd try some wheat and see what you think.[/QUOTE]
    Wheat DME gave me the head retention I was looking for and it took only 1/4 lb to do it. But I usually use ~ .5 Lb of caramels, too.
     

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