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Old 09-14-2013, 12:29 PM   #1
Drackean
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Default Head retention problem

Hey there,

I know this has been talked over and over, but I think I need a more personal input.

I've been trying Yooper's Oatmeal Stout and Lil Sparky's Nut Brown recently. While the beers tastes great, I am not satisfied of their head retention. People who tried these recipes generally claims having a nice creamy head which lasts and lasts. Mine will have a head at first that will soon fade to a thin ring leaving no lacing. Strangely enough, my Palmer's Victory and Chaos IPA keeps its head well and does leave a nice lacing.

What could be my problem ? I know oats can be a head killer, but why does it turns well for others and not for me ? The 2 beers in cause have been fermented with Nottingham and the IPA with US-05. All beers have reached a fairly high fermentation temperatures (70-72F). Could this be the issue ?

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Old 09-14-2013, 01:17 PM   #2
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I would look at your mash temps and check the accuracy of your thermometer. If your mashing too low you won't get the body and retention from the crystal.

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Old 09-15-2013, 04:58 PM   #3
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I doubt my mash temps are in cause : I check the accuracy of my thermometer the morning of each brew day with boiling water and adjust accordingly. Plus, my FGs are spot on at 1012 for the Nut Brown and 1016 for the Stout. Lower temps would have probably made them attenuate more.

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Old 09-15-2013, 05:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drackean View Post
I doubt my mash temps are in cause : I check the accuracy of my thermometer the morning of each brew day with boiling water and adjust accordingly. Plus, my FGs are spot on at 1012 for the Nut Brown and 1016 for the Stout. Lower temps would have probably made them attenuate more.
The flaked barley in the oatmeal stout is there for head retention. I assume you used that?

For an IPA, the hops create head retention so it's easy to get head retention on an IPA.

Did you try using a different glass? What I would try before adjusting recipes is a simple trick to see the actual head formation and retention. Grab your glass, and moisten it inside and around the rim. Sprinkle table salt in it (enough to make a "scrub") and work it with your hand like it was scouring powder. Rinse very well with warm water. While the glass is still warm, pour the beer. Then drink the beer! Drink it slowly, so it will form lacing if it's going to. That's the true test of head/retention.
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Old 09-15-2013, 05:13 PM   #5
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Flaked Wheat has worked very well for me in my past couple beers, but you should be fine with the flaked oats. I think I know the reason your loosing head retention...

When we run glasses through the dishwasher, it leaves a film on the inside of the glass (not a bad thing, but HORRIBLE for beer head). I don't know the science behind it, but I do know that if you hand wash your glasses, the head of your beer will thank you.

Hope this helps! Happy Brewing!

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Old 09-15-2013, 05:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drackean
I doubt my mash temps are in cause : I check the accuracy of my thermometer the morning of each brew day with boiling water and adjust accordingly. Plus, my FGs are spot on at 1012 for the Nut Brown and 1016 for the Stout. Lower temps would have probably made them attenuate more.
FWIW I've had thermometers that read accurate at boiling temp or higher but terribly off at lower temps(32-175f). If its off its off and there's no telling the margin of error consistently anymore IMO. I'd try what Yooper mentioned and see what you come up with.
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Old 09-16-2013, 01:27 AM   #7
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Quote:
The flaked barley in the oatmeal stout is there for head retention. I assume you used that?
Yes, I used the recipe as you posted it. Thank you very much by the way (for the recipe and also for the numerous advices you unconsiously provided me over the years), it will definetely be the default stout of my brewery for a while. It has a faint alcohol taste by now, probably due to my warm fermentation temp with Notty. I'm confident it will fade overtime. I'll be more careful on the next batch.

I'm actually trying one in the salt cleaned glass thing. It may have improved lacing a little bit, but head retention is still poor. It has been in the keg for a little more than one week now, with 2 days at 30 psi. Maybe it's not properly carbonated yet ?
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Old 09-16-2013, 01:36 AM   #8
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Speaking of alcohol taste and warm fermentations :

Quote:
My suggestion for “headless homebrewers” is that there is one likely culprit for most headless homebrew — bad fermentations.

I think that most headless homebrews result from beers with too many “head killers” in them. Specifically, I’m thinking of some of the foam killing molecules — such as higher alcohols (or “fusel oils”) — that result from fermentation temperatures that are too high or worts that are underpitched. In most cases, I believe there are enough foam positive elements in the beer, but these are negated by fermentation byproducts that kill foam. (Note that Belgian yeasts and German wheat yeasts both reputedly produce lower levels of fusel oils than normal brewers yeast strains, especially at higher fermentation temperatures.)

In addition, when yeast are stressed during fermentation, they secrete proteases in larger amounts than unstressed yeast do. Stress may result from underpitching, underaeration or high-gravity fermentation. The resulting protease activity may decrease the amount of beer foam in the resulting beer.
Chris Colby at BYO.
http://byo.com/stories/item/693-gett...oam-techniques

What do you guys think ?
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Old 10-09-2013, 12:48 AM   #9
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After one month in the keg, head retention and lacing have improved to an acceptable range, especially on Yooper's Stout. You can tell there is some inappropriate alcohol flavour in the background, so I can't help but still think my warm fermentation temperature might have created fusels and proteases stuff, which are probably affecting head retention and lacing. I'll be careful to ferment it in the 65-68F range next time (which should be soon) in addition of using Maris Otter (I used standard Canadian 2 Row in my first batch). I bet it will totally fix that out. I will keep you guys posted.

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