Author Topic: No head retention in lagers  (Read 3056 times)

Offline Frankenbrew

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No head retention in lagers
« on: July 30, 2015, 03:02:21 PM »
Hi all,

Last winter/spring I brewed two lagers, a dunkel and a maibock. The dunkel was 90+% light Munich malt, and the maibock was about 60% pilsner and the rest light Munich. They were both fermented with the same Saflager 34/70. The both tasted great. The problem was/is that after the first few sips, there is no head or foam left in the glass.

Now before you think it's the glasses, let me tell you that I have five taps going all  the time, and none of my ales has this problem. I hand wash and dry my beer glasses, and I've pretty much ruled them  out.

Is it the yeast? That and the Munich malt are the common variables here.

I'm done with lagers for this year, though it would be nice to have a new approach for next lager season. Thanks in advance for your help.
Frank C.

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Offline denny

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Re: No head retention in lagers
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2015, 03:12:17 PM »
The fermentation process plays a very large role in foam production and retention.  This article not only explains what's going on, but has tests you can do to help you diagnose your problem. 

http://byo.com/stories/article/indices/35-head-retention/697-getting-good-beer-foam-techniques
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Offline majorvices

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Re: No head retention in lagers
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2015, 03:25:54 PM »
Is it possible you didn't pitch enough yeast? Lagers need about double the cells that ales need. They need to be pithed cold (48 degrees is not too cold) and fermented cold for a few days before warming for a d-rest.

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: No head retention in lagers
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2015, 03:57:39 PM »
I can't say for sure what it is.  Did you ferment too warm?  Fusels will kill head.  Probably not though.

I'll give you an easy fix for the future, though --- add 5-10% rye malt next time.  You'll get head with rye like you've never had before, I can virtually guarantee it.  They used to say this always about wheat, but now I'm telling you, it's rye.
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Offline a10t2

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Re: No head retention in lagers
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2015, 04:02:17 PM »
Excessive aging and contact with autolyzed yeast could also be a factor.
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Offline denny

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Re: No head retention in lagers
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2015, 05:51:35 PM »
I can't say for sure what it is.  Did you ferment too warm?  Fusels will kill head.  Probably not though.

I'll give you an easy fix for the future, though --- add 5-10% rye malt next time.  You'll get head with rye like you've never had before, I can virtually guarantee it.  They used to say this always about wheat, but now I'm telling you, it's rye.

Not in my experience.  If there's something screwed up, all the protein laden malts in the world won't help/.
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Re: No head retention in lagers
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2015, 06:24:05 PM »
I can assure you its not the Munich or the 34/70.




Offline beersk

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Re: No head retention in lagers
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2015, 06:49:23 PM »
Perhaps the pH got too low in the mash and kettle?
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Offline brewinhard

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Re: No head retention in lagers
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2015, 06:57:27 PM »
Perhaps the pH got too low in the mash and kettle?

How low would that have to be to hurt head retention?  Below 5?

Offline wobdee

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Re: No head retention in lagers
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2015, 08:14:04 PM »
I see this as well. My Ales have no problems with head but my lagers seem to drop the head quickly and have little lacing. I've tried Carapils and Carafoam but it doesn't seem to help. Next on my list is raising the mash PH a bit to 5.5-5.6 and lowering PH in the kettle down to 5.2-5.3 similar to what rabeb does.

Offline denny

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Re: No head retention in lagers
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2015, 08:16:00 PM »
I see this as well. My Ales have no problems with head but my lagers seem to drop the head quickly and have little lacing. I've tried Carapils and Carafoam but it doesn't seem to help. Next on my list is raising the mash PH a bit to 5.5-5.6 and lowering PH in the kettle down to 5.2-5.3 similar to what rabeb does.

Read the article in the link I posted.  It will help you diagnose the problem.
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Offline AmandaK

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Re: No head retention in lagers
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2015, 12:10:56 PM »
I see this as well. My Ales have no problems with head but my lagers seem to drop the head quickly and have little lacing. I've tried Carapils and Carafoam but it doesn't seem to help. Next on my list is raising the mash PH a bit to 5.5-5.6 and lowering PH in the kettle down to 5.2-5.3 similar to what rabeb does.
This Pilsner had a mash pH of 5.3. Many of my beers are done in the 5.2-5.4 range.



It is not likely the mash pH being too low, unless the similar colored ales have the same problem. Denny's article has some good hints/tips.
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Offline beersk

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Re: No head retention in lagers
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2015, 01:31:22 PM »
I see this as well. My Ales have no problems with head but my lagers seem to drop the head quickly and have little lacing. I've tried Carapils and Carafoam but it doesn't seem to help. Next on my list is raising the mash PH a bit to 5.5-5.6 and lowering PH in the kettle down to 5.2-5.3 similar to what rabeb does.

Read the article in the link I posted.  It will help you diagnose the problem.
I feel like there's more to it than just fermentation temperature, but not sure what it would be. I don't see a huge difference between my ales and lagers, head retention-wise. Once in a while I'll have a beer where the head drops and looks like soda...that really annoys me. I'm not sure what the deal is when that happens, it's either lagers or ales. I don't think it has to do with lager yeast vs ale yeast.
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Offline jtoots

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Re: No head retention in lagers
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2015, 02:13:17 PM »
Potentially related:  I've recently brewed 10 gallons of a Munich Helles.  The first 5 gallons went straight from fermenter to keg to kegerator and the head was great.  The second 5 gallons, after kegging, sat in the basement at ambient until the first was kicked.  Head dissipates almost instantly on this second keg.  In this case I think the only two options are storage at high temp after lagering or oxygenation while sitting in the keg on deck.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: No head retention in lagers
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2015, 03:27:26 PM »
The OP,didn't say how the mash was conducted, time and temp are important.

A protein rest is not good for head retention with modern malts. A rest at ~160F can aid head retention.

Read towards the bottom of this.
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Starch_Conversion
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