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Head Retention on A Wheat beer

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I recently brewed a jalapeno wheat beer and am having trouble with head retention.  I am guessing it may be due to the fact that I used store bought fresh jalapeno peppers, which I am guessing may have had a light wax coating, but not sure.  I washed and scrubbed them very well before placing them in a Ziploc bag and freezing them.  Recipe as follows for 5.25 gallon batch:

3.25 lbs Weyermann Pale Wheat
3.25 lbs Weyermann Dark Wheat
3.25 lbs Weyermann Pilsner

Single infusion mash at 156F for 40 minutes

1 oz Cluster pellets 7.8 AA for 60 minutes

Fermentis Safbrew T-58 Yeast

Racked to secondary onto 14 oz sanitized (StarSan) sliced jalapenos

The beer is great but lacks head retention.  Aroma of fresh green jalapeno, flavor of sweet malt, then alittle kick of heat in the back of the throat. 

Any ideas?


It could be the oils from the peppers.  Otherwise, I'm at a loss.  Looks like your recipe and process were good, from what I can tell.

Thanks dmtaylor!  Everything is good about the beer less the head.  Carbonated fine as well.  I had no activity in the airlock, but when I racked to secondary, there must have some nice sugar in those jalapenos as I had some mini krausen start up. 

Here's a little something about wheat from pour book...

"Traditionally, both British and British-inspired American Pale Ales and IPAs saw charges of wheat of nearly 20% in the belief that the extra protein from wheat contributed to positive foam characteristics and head retention.

Yet we should question our traditional wisdom. It turns out that wheat doesn’t have significantly higher protein levels compared to barley, but due to solubility factors it leeches more protein into the wort. According to a recent study from Leuven, Belgium, wheat can provide some improved foam stability, but only for brews with highly modified malts, only at a relatively high gravity, and only when gassed with Nitrogen instead of CO2. Even better, wheat is supposed to create cloudy beers, right? Well it turns out that the effect of wheat protein haze is more pronounced at lower overall levels of wheat in the mash. In other words, a beer brewed with 20% wheat will be hazier than a beer brewed with 40% wheat. According to the researchers this is believed to be due to the more aggressive breakdown of the large protein strands in the 20% wheat beer. This leads to smaller particles that are less likely to settle out.

What’s the verdict then on wheat malt with regards to foam and haze? It seems like for all of our best wishes, these perceived effects are tricky and intertwined with a number of factors. One thing not to discount however, is the increased viscosity of the wort having an impact on mouthfeel. "

Good info, Denny.  I didn't know that part about the cloudiness decreasing with increased wheat.  I wonder how it will effect the Wit I made Saturday with 47% raw wheat.

I have always treated the peppers by scorching and peeling them before adding to the beer because I feel that the skin and/or oil kills the head.


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