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Blog Article Jan 2015 Get Some Head

Published: 28/01/2015 02:19 pm

Trying to enjoy a beer with no head would be like going to a fine French restaurant and getting a Mc Value Meal.

You can say it out aloud…..”I Like good head”. Just don’t shout it out if you’re sitting at the computer late at night with the lights off. It might attract the wrong attention.

But why? It’s simple really, good head adds to olfactory senses, carrying the beer’s aroma better and therefore improving taste perception of the magnificent liquid sustenance hidden beneath it’s loins. Foam improves texture perceived as mouthfeel and alters just about everything else about a beer, including how sexy it looks. The eyes have it.  A headless beer is about as pleasing to the eye as the wrong end of a pony. Interestingly enough, I’d hazard a guess to say, it’s going to have about the same flavor as the said pony too. There’s also something strangely attractive about the sight of a near empty glass with ringlets of foam stuck to the sides of them. It’s the only time a near empty glass looks good.

I’m sure some numpty psychiatrist somewhere in the world will get bored out of their brain one day and name a fetish after it.

Even the mega breweries have a glipse of an idea of the titillating pleasures of beer with head, but they have a different approach to the situation. It’s all well and good for the mega breweries to add propylene glycol alginate (PGA) to their beers thus offsetting the poor quality resulting from excessive use of brewing adjuncts such as cane sugar and under-use of hops.

For craft brewers and home brewers, it’s a point of pride to present each beer with perfect foam.


So here’s a few tips on how to get some head.

Kit brewers:

Ditch the sugar man. Make your beer from what it should be made from – Malt. A glance over my computer screen shows shelves bursting at the seams with malt extracts of all types  - over 40 types, so there’s something there for everyone. Lose the damned sugar, unless you’re making something that needs invert sugar in it. Malt won’t only make your beer taste better, it’ll look a lot better with a light fluffy top on it.

Consider steeping some grains. See notes for extract brewers for details.

If you must cheat, then add a tiny amount (250g) of maltodextrine, but try pure malt extract first.

The add some hops to the brew, whether it be a finishing hop pack steeped in boiling water for 10 minutes, adding some dry hops to the fermenter after fermentation is complete or both.  Careful though. Hops adds amazingly tasty notes to your beer.


Extract Brewers:

Again, pure malt brews will always produce better foam. You can also try steeping some grains and doing a small boil. Try a bit of light crystal malt (250g) and even try some Briess Dextrine Malt (aka Carapils or Caramel Pilsner – 250g) your brew shop should be able to mill it for you. Steep the grains enclosed in a hop sock in a couple of litres of hot water for about 20 minutes, then remove the grains and boil the remaining liquid for 20-30 minutes before adding it to the brew and mixing it all up in the fermenter.

Grain Brewers:

Consider your grain bill. Adding a bit of specialty malt like crystal, carapils or whatever suits the style, avoid low temp protein rests, stay up around 53 or 55 deg C and not for too long. Typically 10-15 minutes is enough. After your saccharification, consider stepping to 72 Deg for a GlycoProtein rest of 20-30 minutes. Also remember that hop oils are foam positive. Adding late addition hops and dry hops will also help along the way.

For Everyone:

Clean your glasses in a high alkaline glass cleaning solution using very hot water and change glasses regularly thoughout the session to avoid contamination from food oils. Nuts, chips chops and pizza are mood builders but they’re also head killers.

Also, be the guy who cleans his beer glasses up and while you’re at it, clean the table down and clean up your cold glass marks. Brownie points man, think brownie points.