head retention in dubbel/tripel

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derekcw83

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Not sure where to post this. I have not had a single dubbel or tripel recipe turn out with appropriate head retention. Done 3 batches and each time I get the cola fizz. I have a batch going now and it seems it may end up the same. So 2 questions:

Is krausen a good indication of head retention? Currently it's bubbling away but hardly any krausen.

Can the yeast be an issue? I have used danstar abbaye, fermentis abbaye, and now mangrove jack abbey yeast. Is abbey yeast different in this way somehow?

No access to my recipe right now, but I added a smidge of carapils in this recent batch. Also all have had a decent amount of belgian candi syrup or candi sugar, like 8-10%
 

jerbrew

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Head retention is kind of s beast of variables. Your recipe will be the biggest indication of any potential "problems". If you're using a grist high in pils which I suspect you could have two things affecting your retention.

1) a protein rest near 130F for 5-10 minutes to help keep those medium chained proteins around that aid in head retention

2) what is your water like? Is it really hard? On a pale beer like this without roasted or crystal grains your pH may be too high. Protein function is highly dependent on being in the proper pH range.

Non grist related may be your glassware If you're using detergent they may be some residue left on the glass. Try rinsing them with water and wiping them clean before you poor the beer.

Last question should have been first. Does this happen in any other brews?
 
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derekcw83

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Nope. I have good retention in all my others. I conquered ph and water a while back so I've had that down pretty well. But I usually just mash at 150. I may consider starting at 130 then raising. Could it be anything else? Oh and I do have some crystal and special b in the recipe
 

jerbrew

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I'd say doing that rest in the 130-133 range would be a good start if you've eliminated the rest. Just make sure the rest isn't too long (no longer than 10 minutes) or you could do more damage than good. Here's an old but detailed article on head formation and stability. a little technical and no real advice but good info.

https://byo.com/stories/issue/item/191-beer-foam-advanced-brewing

The only other thing I could think of is lipids in the beer making it into the fermentor. If your not getting a good hot break that could be an issue but since you don't see this in other brews I doubt that's the case.
 

giraffe

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An other issue (besides those above) can be yeast stress in a high alcohol brew. Try fermenting in the mid sixties and then raising the temp as fermentation slows. Add yeast nutrient. Make sure calcium is at least 40-50ppm. Have the prescribed pitch rate, dont skimp. In my experience yeast health/good fermentation is the biggest factor in head retention (besides soap on the glass)
 

saltymirv

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What base malt are you using? Is it the same base malt you use for other beers? You can try (as others have said) to do a step mash

Also what temperature do you mash at? Mashing at higher temperature usually helps with head retention.
 
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derekcw83

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Usually my base in a dubbel is belgian pale. I will start with the step mash and finish a bit higher as well and see what happens on the next batch. All my other batches do well so I'm not sure what is causing this. The only common variables are candi sugar, belgian pale malt, and belgian abbey yeast
 

dmtaylor

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Are you fermenting hot? Fusel alcohols produced at temperature much above 70-72 F could kill the head. Keep fermentation temp down in the 60s and see if that helps.

Carapils won't do anything. However about 5-10% rye would definitely add head.
 
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