Author Topic: Head retention issue  (Read 758 times)

Offline TANSTAAFB

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Head retention issue
« on: February 06, 2018, 02:18:40 AM »
I brewed a saison, recipe below, and split the 12 gallon batch 3 ways. 1 fermented with WLP644 Saccharomyces Bruxellensis Trois, one with WLP590 French Saison, and one with US-05 as a clean control to get a better idea of what flavors are yeast derived and what is coming from the grist and hops. I get a big beautiful thick white fluffy head that dissipates fairly quickly, leaving nice lacing on the glass and just a very thin head. If I swirl the glass it reforms and dissipates again. So what do I need to do to get the head to stay? Check out the grain bill, I included a ton of oats and wheat that should result in a stable head! Any advice is appreciated.

Water carbon filtered and treated with 1 Campden tablet.
1tsp Calcium chloride

14# 2-row (Colorado Malting Co)
2# white wheat (CMC)
2# Golden naked oats
3# flaked oats
1# biscuit (CMC)
.5# aromatic
.75# acid malt

14g Warrior FWH
28g Celeia whirlpool 30 minutes
42g Nelon Sauvin whirlpool
28g Centennial whirlpool

BIAB mashed at 150°F

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Offline Andy Farke

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Re: Head retention issue
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2018, 04:52:01 PM »
Hmm...that's a puzzler. The grist is definitely in the right zone for good head retention.

Perhaps you have checked this already (and please forgive me if I'm going too basic!), but have you checked your glassware? I always wash my glasses by hand, and give them a solid rinse--dishwashers are rough on glassware as well as foam retention. Does the foam dissipate after taking a sip? A tiny bit of oil from your face can dissipate foam quickly. If you haven't already, try pouring and letting it sit on its own for 5-10 minutes and see what happens.

For the remaining thin head, is it a complete blanket over the surface of the beer (which would strike me as probably okay), or just something around the edges of the glass?

I guess the final question (and this is more of a general one for the audience)--what is a reasonable expectation for time and nature of head retention?
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Offline TANSTAAFB

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Re: Head retention issue
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2018, 05:26:20 PM »
So I posted this on HBT as well and got a response that linked to a BYO article https://byo.com/article/fabulous-foam/
 that says oats have a lot of fat and contributes to POOR head retention or collapse of the head. This makes sense but I've added oats to recipes for years thanking I was adding a cheap foam positive ingredient! I need to use flaked barley and wheat instead. I like oats but maybe 3# flaked and 2# Golden Naked was a bit much! I just listened to the Experimental Brewing episode on oats this morning and learned that GN oats are slightly crystallized oat malt. I wonder if oat malt or GN oats operate differently in the mash than flaked oats.
 https://play.google.com/music/m/Dkn2ijrul76hfhwp5v33e5ensgy?t=Brew_Files_Episode_4_The_Mighty_Oat_-_Experimental_Brewing


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Offline BrewBama

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Re: Head retention issue
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2018, 05:28:20 PM »
I had head retention issues and the recommendation was “beer clean” glassware. It seems to work.


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Offline TANSTAAFB

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Re: Head retention issue
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2018, 05:37:15 PM »
I neglected to answer that part. Glassware was hand washed, no detergent, and sprayed with StarSan before pouring.

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Offline Big Monk

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Re: Head retention issue
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2018, 05:39:09 PM »
You said it you utilized the BIAB method. Do you squeeze the bag?
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Offline TANSTAAFB

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Re: Head retention issue
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2018, 05:55:11 PM »
You said it you utilized the BIAB method. Do you squeeze the bag?
Like it owes me money

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Offline Big Monk

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Re: Head retention issue
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2018, 05:57:31 PM »
You said it you utilized the BIAB method. Do you squeeze the bag?
Like it owes me money

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That may be a problem as well. There is plenty of stuff bound up in the spent grains that may be detrimental to foam and overall flavor stability, i.e. lipids, etc., that bag squeezing will liberate and introduce into the kettle and beyond.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

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Offline TANSTAAFB

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Re: Head retention issue
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2018, 06:00:18 PM »
You said it you utilized the BIAB method. Do you squeeze the bag?
Like it owes me money

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That may be a problem as well. There is plenty of stuff bound up in the spent grains that may be detrimental to foam and overall flavor stability, i.e. lipids, etc., that bag squeezing will liberate and introduce into the kettle and beyond.
I've read and listened to a lot of the back and forth regarding the squeezing of the bag since going BIAB and was under the impression that the bogey men associated with said squeezing, like tannin extraction and such, were just that, bogey men. Are there any empirical updates I may have missed that you can share?

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Offline Big Monk

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Re: Head retention issue
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2018, 06:05:51 PM »
You said it you utilized the BIAB method. Do you squeeze the bag?
Like it owes me money

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That may be a problem as well. There is plenty of stuff bound up in the spent grains that may be detrimental to foam and overall flavor stability, i.e. lipids, etc., that bag squeezing will liberate and introduce into the kettle and beyond.
I've read and listened to a lot of the back and forth regarding the squeezing of the bag since going BIAB and was under the impression that the bogey men associated with said squeezing, like tannin extraction and such, were just that, bogey men. Are there any empirical updates I may have missed that you can share?

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There are many academic papers and texts which discuss the negative effects of lipids, other fatty acids, tannins, etc. affecting head formation and duration. I just suggested it as a possibility because you said that a.) you use BIAB (and squeeze) and b.) you were having head issues.

I also use a bag but as a sort of mash filter, and I don't squeeze. I also use mashing to influence foam but that is really off topic. Maybe try a batch where you don't squeeze?
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

"Messieurs, c’est les microbes qui auront le dernier mot." Louis Pasteur

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Offline TANSTAAFB

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Re: Head retention issue
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2018, 07:26:08 PM »


You said it you utilized the BIAB method. Do you squeeze the bag?
Like it owes me money

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That may be a problem as well. There is plenty of stuff bound up in the spent grains that may be detrimental to foam and overall flavor stability, i.e. lipids, etc., that bag squeezing will liberate and introduce into the kettle and beyond.
I've read and listened to a lot of the back and forth regarding the squeezing of the bag since going BIAB and was under the impression that the bogey men associated with said squeezing, like tannin extraction and such, were just that, bogey men. Are there any empirical updates I may have missed that you can share?

Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk

There are many academic papers and texts which discuss the negative effects of lipids, other fatty acids, tannins, etc. affecting head formation and duration. I just suggested it as a possibility because you said that a.) you use BIAB (and squeeze) and b.) you were having head issues.

I also use a bag but as a sort of mash filter, and I don't squeeze. I also use mashing to influence foam but that is really off topic. Maybe try a batch where you don't squeeze?

I'll try not squeezing but I don't think the ways you use mashing to influence foam are off topic at all. I'm curious if you care to elaborate!

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Offline Big Monk

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Re: Head retention issue
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2018, 07:38:24 PM »


You said it you utilized the BIAB method. Do you squeeze the bag?
Like it owes me money

Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk

That may be a problem as well. There is plenty of stuff bound up in the spent grains that may be detrimental to foam and overall flavor stability, i.e. lipids, etc., that bag squeezing will liberate and introduce into the kettle and beyond.
I've read and listened to a lot of the back and forth regarding the squeezing of the bag since going BIAB and was under the impression that the bogey men associated with said squeezing, like tannin extraction and such, were just that, bogey men. Are there any empirical updates I may have missed that you can share?

Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk

There are many academic papers and texts which discuss the negative effects of lipids, other fatty acids, tannins, etc. affecting head formation and duration. I just suggested it as a possibility because you said that a.) you use BIAB (and squeeze) and b.) you were having head issues.

I also use a bag but as a sort of mash filter, and I don't squeeze. I also use mashing to influence foam but that is really off topic. Maybe try a batch where you don't squeeze?

I'll try not squeezing but I don't think the ways you use mashing to influence foam are off topic at all. I'm curious if you care to elaborate!

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YMMV, but typically you'd try to get a nice clear wort into the kettle (no squeezing, use bag as mash filter, etc.), and design the mash schedule to have an extended rest (10-15 min.) at 172 F.

My typical mash schedule would be a 2 step beta at 144 and 147 (20 and 10), then ramp up to 162 (30), before finishing at 172 (10). I pump the whole time, use a false bottom, BTB in the mash, make sure to get pH set early, and use the brew bag as a faux mash filter.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

"Messieurs, c’est les microbes qui auront le dernier mot." Louis Pasteur

Check us out at www.lowoxygenbrewing.com

Offline BrewBama

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Re: Head retention issue
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2018, 11:04:13 PM »
FWIW I poured a bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale yesterday and there was zero head. I’ve also been to local watering holes with the same result: zero head.

I personally like a cpl fingers of foam. I loved the bar tenders in Amsterdam who used a knife to swipe the excess foam off a line of glasses to make a row of perfect beers. A true thing of beauty.


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Offline TANSTAAFB

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Re: Head retention issue
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2018, 12:23:55 AM »
FWIW I poured a bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale yesterday and there was zero head. I’ve also been to local watering holes with the same result: zero head.

I personally like a cpl fingers of foam. I loved the bar tenders in Amsterdam who used a knife to swipe the excess foam off a line of glasses to make a row of perfect beers. A true thing of beauty.


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It is really irritating to get a flat beer, especially at a brew pub! It was the thing that turned me off most about the local pub where I moved from. Got a flat beer from the local place by where I moved to and it made me grit my teeth a little. When I'm with my wife I try to dial down the beer snob. If I'd been by myself I'd have sent it back

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Offline TANSTAAFB

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Re: Head retention issue
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2018, 02:54:39 AM »
Posted on HBT, figured I'd copy it here.
Here's the 644 version (I ran the beer sitting in the lines out) right after pour. Clean and sanitized glass, did not take a sip yet

Maybe 15-20 seconds later


Less than a minute after pour


I've decided there are a lot of foam positive properties as evidenced by the lacing but overdid the oats so the head is collapsing. Lesson learned! Still interested in whether there's a difference between the impact of oat malt vs flaked

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« Last Edit: February 07, 2018, 03:32:29 AM by TANSTAAFB »