Author Topic: No head!?!?  (Read 2886 times)

Offline andrew000141

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No head!?!?
« on: April 23, 2012, 07:59:33 AM »
I recently did my first all-grain and it was quite fun. It was rocky and i didn't do the best job, but it was fun and the beer is pretty good. The issue i'm having with it is that it has no head.WHAT!?!? I'm confused what could have caused this. During my mashing process when i was bringing my mash temp. to around 155 and somehow i messed up and gave it too much heat and it went up to 180. Would this have been what "killed" my head? My boil was not the most vigorous boil either, The wasn't enough room in the pot. Would that have affected it as well?


The recipe is humpty dumpty bitter from The complete guide to homebrewing by charlie papazini. I keep a record of my brewing process and i know i made some big no-nos that i will not commit in the future but here it is.

6 lbs English 2 row malt
1/3 lb English crystal malt 55 lovibond
1/4lb aromatic malt
6 oz lyles golden syrup(sugar)
1 oz northerdown  hops
1oz kent goldings hops
½ oz kent goldings hops – dry hopped 2nd ferment
British ale wyeast

61/2 quart water and grain mash sat between 138-142ish for 30 min
Added 3 gallons boiling water sat at 150-154 for 45 min
Accidently brought to 180 degrees instantly taken off of heat and brought down to 155ish for 15 min
Sparged in 2 parts, strainer broke used a bigger hole strainer small pieces go into sweet wort(assumed will sediment out with yeast)[I know now that would be a bad idea because of the tannins extracted in the boil]
Boil does not look like it is boiling, the top of the water is 216 so we went ahead and put in the 6 oz of the sugar and 1 oz northerndown hops
Irish mosh added 10 min before the boil ended as planned
Kent goldings added on time 5 min before end of boil, started running the water bath with ice
Jacob was stupid and spilled wort as straining it into the main fermentor, my leg and arms are sticky final OG = 1.030, it was expected at 1.038-40.[shouldn't of filled as much water as initially anticipated]
Pitched yeast at 5 gal 70 degrees 3/9/12
Racked into 5 gallon bucket and then racked back into primary fermenter with ½ oz of kent on 3/15/12
Tied nylon mesh hop bag to top end of siphon  to restrain hops and small husks from getting in and siphoned into second bucket with 2 cups of water with ¾ cup of corn sugar for priming sugar 3/7/12

Those are the notes i recorded on the process, It was only at 180 for a short time, 5 min max. Jacob is my brother in case you were confused by that comment.


Thank you for all the advice guys and i'm definitely going to try to add some malted wheat with my low grav beers next time.I did try and put salt in the beer and i got a big creamy head. I noticed not very much sediment at the bottom of my bottles so i'm thinking the mesh bag may have filtered out some of the yeast. It fermented for a longer time than planned just because i was busy. It was extra low grav because of the spill so i think it was a combination of many things that destroyed the head. I'll make sure to take extra care with low grav beers when it comes to heads in the future and i'm going to pull back and do a few more partial mashes before i step up to all-grain. Thanks guys  :)
« Last Edit: April 23, 2012, 02:11:16 PM by andrew000141 »
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Offline jmcamerlengo

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Re: No head!?!?
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2012, 08:26:29 AM »
your whole mash got up to 180? Care to share your recipe and process?

That way we can dig into the issue further :)
Jason
-Head Brewer, Brewtus Brewers in the Shenango Valley. Hopefully opening a brewpub/nano brewery in the next couple years.

Offline davidgzach

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Re: No head!?!?
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2012, 09:19:35 AM »
your whole mash got up to 180? Care to share your recipe and process?

That way we can dig into the issue further :)

+1.  How long was it at 180?  What kind of beer?  Not having a good boil could have a major effect on DMS in the beer. Please send more details.
Dave Zach

Offline bluesman

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Re: No head!?!?
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2012, 09:28:55 AM »
There are a lot of factors that can affect foam formation. A healthy fermentation is one thing to consider. Read this short article that will point you in the right direction.

http://www.byo.com/stories/article/indices/35-head-retention/625-fabulous-foam
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Offline denny

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Re: No head!?!?
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2012, 09:29:33 AM »
There are a lot of factors that can affect foam formation. A healthy fermentation is one thing to consider. Read this short article that will point you in the right direction.

http://www.byo.com/stories/article/indices/35-head-retention/625-fabulous-foam

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Offline bluesman

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Re: No head!?!?
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2012, 09:31:59 AM »
There are a lot of factors that can affect foam formation. A healthy fermentation is one thing to consider. Read this short article that will point you in the right direction.

http://www.byo.com/stories/article/indices/35-head-retention/625-fabulous-foam

Beat me to it, Ron!

I'm on it today!  :)
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Offline weithman5

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Re: No head!?!?
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2012, 09:56:56 AM »
i usually will add a touch of wheat to my beers especially with adjuncts.
i also will salt a beer that seems flat to me. it increases nucleation sites and this will cause bubbles to form. this may help identify if there was a carbonation failure.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: No head!?!?
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2012, 10:22:26 AM »
+1 to Ron's link, a healthy fermentation is often the key to good foam, but I wonder if the combination of possible pH being off and not having a good hot break due to the lack of a proper boil could cause head forming problems?
Keith Y.
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Offline garc_mall

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Re: No head!?!?
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2012, 10:50:16 AM »
+1 to pretty much everything in here.

I like to add 4oz of wheat to every beer, and I have noticed that I get better head retention.

If your thermometer read 216 and your wort didn't seem to be boiling, I would attempt to calibrate your thermometer, or get a new one.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: No head!?!?
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2012, 11:30:17 AM »
I would also calibrate your thermometer.  Your wort did not get up to 216F under any kind of normal brewing conditions, let alone get there and not be visibly boiling.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: No head!?!?
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2012, 01:11:57 PM »
Good notes for the first time! It helps with organization to get a brewers logbook.

Assuming you've made extract brews with good head retention, I think your notes give us a few clues:

1. Your recipe doesn't lend itself to good foam stability. Low gravity, a good dollop of sugar, and no foam boosters (wheat, oats, rye, etc.). Next time, adjust your efficiency and replace the sugar with malt and some flaked wheat or oats (this is more appropriate for english bitters, anyway).

2. A week at 70F with a low gravity wort is plenty of time for the English Ale yeast to complete fermentation and drop out like a rock. Coupled with dry hopping in a secondary, you probably didnt transfer over much (or any) yeast to your bottling bucket. If you're hell-bent on saving the batch, open up the rest of the bottles and add a few drops of liquid yeast slurry via a sanitized eye dropper (or sprinkle in some dry yeast).

Your mash temperature fluctuations shouldnt have affected your head retention. They may actually have helped add body to the small beer! Getting the mash temp lined out just takes practice with your system.

Good luck with your future brews!
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Offline jmcamerlengo

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Re: No head!?!?
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2012, 01:21:18 PM »
agreed with all of the above.

Unfortunately there's so many variables with head retention. Also IIRC head forming proteins only form once, so if they were lost somewhere along the way they may not have formed again in your glass.

I also don't see any reason to do anything other than a single infusion mash for a bitter.

Just dough in@ 150-154 and hold there for an hour or so. It will help simplify things for you until you get acquainted with your system and then you can start doing step mashes, although as I mentioned with today's malts its not really necessary to do additional steps with this type of beer.

I also 2nd the mention of replacing the sugar with some wheat or corn or something along those lines.
Jason
-Head Brewer, Brewtus Brewers in the Shenango Valley. Hopefully opening a brewpub/nano brewery in the next couple years.

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: No head!?!?
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2012, 02:36:03 PM »
Also IIRC head forming proteins only form once, so if they were lost somewhere along the way they may not have formed again in your glass.

This, I've heard also but have never seen anything that would substantiate it.

Since I, and many others, carbonate our kegs via the shake method and still get good long-lasting head (the best kind, eh) I find it hard to believe.

If you carb up some beer in a two liter and shake the heck out of it, you get a fair amount of foam in the bottle.  I've not had the experience that these beers are carbonated but head-less.
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Online morticaixavier

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Re: No head!?!?
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2012, 04:03:26 PM »
I would also calibrate your thermometer.  Your wort did not get up to 216F under any kind of normal brewing conditions, let alone get there and not be visibly boiling.

I was thinking the same thing Tom, If it looked like it wasn't boiling at 216 then it was likely down in protien rest temps for a while in that sac B rest which could kill head retention.

Also soap/oil on the glass, fermenter, etc.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: No head!?!?
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2012, 05:21:56 PM »
I don't add wheat.  The 100 Pilsner malt beers (Helles and Pils) have great rocky heads that really last.

Back some time ago I had beers that the head would just collapse.  That was before I learned proper yeast mangement and the temperature contol that goes with that.

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