Author Topic: WTF - Where's the Foam?  (Read 177 times)

Online Richard

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WTF - Where's the Foam?
« on: May 22, 2020, 04:36:22 AM »
I generally use liquid yeast and pick it up at my local homebrew shop, but it is closed now and I have been ordering everything online. I live fairly close to the MoreBeer California warehouse and my shipments don't spend much time in transit. I have ordered liquid yeast in an ice pack and had it arrive still quite cold. My last batch was a different story. I was brewing a British Brown Ale and I ordered a pack of WY1335 British Ale II, which arrived quite warm.

I made a starter with it to make sure it was viable, and the starter seemed to go OK. I never saw any krausen, but my starters often don't foam up. I did see bubbles being generated, and I finished with more yeast than I had at the start, so I thought things were fine. When I fermented the beer I never saw any krausen -- not a bit. I have never encountered this before and was concerned, but the airlock was bubbling away. After a couple of days it smelled strongly of sulfur, although that went away after a few days. It finally got to around 70% attenuation for an FG of 1.015, which was a bit high but acceptable. I eventually bottled the beer and was unimpressed with the flavor at that time, but it wasn't awful. After a week or so the beer is fully carbonated but it has basically no foam. With an aggressive pour it foams up a bit but it is thin and watery foam that falls down immediately, almost like pouring a cola. The beer doesn't taste awful, and some people even like it. I have a hard time judging because I am not a fan of that style in the first place and was brewing it for someone else.

I have heard that yeast health is important to making good foam, and I guess I just demonstrated that for my first time. Until I can once again go to the store to buy liquid yeast that I know has been kept properly refrigerated I am going to stick with powdered yeast.
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Offline BrewBama

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WTF - Where's the Foam?
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2020, 12:26:42 PM »
I’m not sure this has anything to do with your issue but there’s an old podcast with Dr Bamforth where he discusses foam. I don’t remember everything he said but I do recall he spoke about positives and negatives when it comes to foam and head retention.  There’s a lot to it evidently because he wrote a book on the subject.

Some of the positives: higher bitterness, all malt and/or wheat, higher mash temp, lower pH, and probably a bunch of others.

I remember he mentioned how a beer is poured to release the CO2 to create the foam, let it dry, then pour to the top.  This reminds me of the ‘proper pour’ videos.

He also mentioned negatives such as certain detergents or fats remaining in the glass after washing it. ...and higher alcohol beers have less foam. I’ve heard some of the Low Oxygen guys battle too much foam because their processes nearly eliminate all the lipids (fats) in their beers.

I’m wondering if your ‘bad’ yeast produced some of these fats as it was decaying. Does the beer taste soapy?


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« Last Edit: May 22, 2020, 02:14:08 PM by BrewBama »
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Online denny

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Re: WTF - Where's the Foam?
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2020, 01:47:20 PM »
Chris Colby wrote am great article for BYO years back on the relationship between fermentation/yeast health and beer foam.  It lives only in the Wayback these days.  I'll dig up the link and post it later.
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Online Richard

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Re: WTF - Where's the Foam?
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2020, 10:25:33 PM »
This was a new recipe, so I can't compare to a previous batch, but I have never had this problem before. The recipe was based on: https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/homebrew-recipe/amahls-english-brown-ale/ with the addition of 8 oz of Golden Naked Oats (which should have helped the foam, not hurt it).

I used my standard procedures with mash temp of 152, mash pH measured at 5.37, fermented at 67 F. The only thing that really stands out to me is the yeast. I don't detect a soapy taste, just the brown malt and a light roasted flavor with a touch of nuttiness from the oats.
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