Head retention

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DanInSydney

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I’ve made a couple of extract brews and although they taste great. Original Bitter & Northern Brown Ale.

HOWEVER... although they’ve carbonated with the right amount of fizz I was going for in each style, I get crappy head retention.

I doubt it’s the bottles as I’ve tried a few types. I’ve also tested storing the same brews at different temps etc.

Don’t think it’s time either, sincethe Bitter has had 2+ months and the Ale 1+.

Any thoughts? Is this a thing I should expect with extract brews??
 

dmtaylor

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I never had any problem with head retention in extract beers. Check 2 things:

1) Clean glassware. Are you using soap to clean your glassware at all? Don't. Just rinse with hot water. If you run them through your dishwasher with soap, then immediately prior to pouring a beer, do a hot rinse.

2) Fermentation temperature & fusel alcohols. Are you fermenting above 20 C (68 F)? That's too warm. Ferment cooler, about 18 C (64-65 F) is much better. At higher temperatures, more complex alcohols and ethyl acetate are formed which can destroy head retention, not to mention they don't taste very good. If you can set your fermentation vessel in a tub with 2 inches of water at the bottom and drape a wet t-shirt over it, you can cool your fermentation down by about 2-3 C (4-5 F).
 

Abhishek Dewan

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Apart from mentioned above, steep in some grains at 67c for 30 minutes; proteins/adjuncts help retention. A little grain/malt add to body, mouthfeel too. In my experience, more than 15% of oats, cause head retention problems as well.
 

VikeMan

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In my experience, more than 15% of oats, cause head retention problems as well.
Oats are low in proteins and high in fats, compared with barley. IMO, any amount of oats (in place of barley) is foam negative.
 

dmtaylor

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Oats are low in proteins and high in fats, compared with barley. IMO, any amount of oats (in place of barley) is foam negative.
I agree.

However, RYE is SUPER helpful. There are extracts available, or you can do a mini-mash of rye malt, just a few ounces at about 65 C (149 F) steeped in a liter or two of water for 15 minutes, then add that to the rest of the batch for super head.
 

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I tend to use a little flaked wheat in most everything I want fairly clean to get head retention up. Hops, crystal malts, carafoam, flaked wheat all seem positive to me depending on style you are going for, but none of them are absolutely necessary.

Head retention beyond that is a mysterious animal as far as I can tell.
 
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DanInSydney

DanInSydney

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I never had any problem with head retention in extract beers. Check 2 things:

1) Clean glassware. Are you using soap to clean your glassware at all? Don't. Just rinse with hot water. If you run them through your dishwasher with soap, then immediately prior to pouring a beer, do a hot rinse.

2) Fermentation temperature & fusel alcohols. Are you fermenting above 20 C (68 F)? That's too warm. Ferment cooler, about 18 C (64-65 F) is much better. At higher temperatures, more complex alcohols and ethyl acetate are formed which can destroy head retention, not to mention they don't taste very good. If you can set your fermentation vessel in a tub with 2 inches of water at the bottom and drape a wet t-shirt over it, you can cool your fermentation down by about 2-3 C (4-5 F).
#2 could be worth a shout - although I live in Australia so brewing in colder temperatures is a bit of a challenge ha ha!!
 
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DanInSydney

DanInSydney

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Apart from mentioned above, steep in some grains at 67c for 30 minutes; proteins/adjuncts help retention. A little grain/malt add to body, mouthfeel too. In my experience, more than 15% of oats, cause head retention problems as well.
I think if I start steeping I may as well go all grain, right?

Funnily enough I’d actually used some malted barley extract in the Brown. Mouthfeel is actually alright, not thin at all. It’s just the head I’m having trouble with
 

MMP126

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Also, to add, how long are you boiling your wort for?

From what I have seen/read, no longer than 60min for extract brews, and no longer than 90min for all grain. Not sure on the science yet, but it does affect your head retention.

I say this because I recently had this issue. I wanted a super thick stout, boiled the wort for like 3 hours, and had ZERO head retention. Didnt even krausen up during fermentation. It was the 3rd time I brewed this same beer, and the only thing that changed was my boil length. Went back to 70min for batch 4. Head retention came back!
 

Dgallo

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I think if I start steeping I may as well go all grain, right?

Funnily enough I’d actually used some malted barley extract in the Brown. Mouthfeel is actually alright, not thin at all. It’s just the head I’m having trouble with
Not necessarily, if you’re steeping grains you can have far more control and greatly enhance the complexity of the finished product verses purely extract all without having to buy or build any equipment for brewing allgrain. It will also start familiarizing you with grain contributions and other aspects of all grain brewing, so you’l initially have an easier time getting started allgrain. Def a good no real added cost than a grain sack and the ingredients.
 

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A little bit of carapils or torrified wheat helps head retention. I use 4 oz of one or the other most of the time. I all grain brew but you can easily work that into your extract brewing.
 

VikeMan

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A little bit of carapils or torrified wheat helps head retention. I use 4 oz of one or the other most of the time. I all grain brew but you can easily work that into your extract brewing.
Torrified Wheat, if steeped (i.e. not mashed with a base malt) will contribute unconverted starches to the wort, which is usually not a good thing.
 

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Torrified Wheat, if steeped (i.e. not mashed with a base malt) will contribute unconverted starches to the wort, which is usually not a good thing.
Oops, been a while since I extract brewed. Extracts can't do the conversions on some adjuncts and specialty grains then even in small amounts? Sorry OP. Partial mashing is a relatively easy step up. My buddy brews some excellent beers that way.
 

VikeMan

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Extracts can't do the conversions on some adjuncts and specialty grains then even in small amounts?
Extracts (i.e. LME and DME) can't convert starches in any amount. They have no amylase enzymes.
 

Deadalus

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Thanks for pointing that out Vikeman. I was thinking about the percentages of adjuncts but didn't remember at all the absolute restrictions for some in regard to extract brewing.

So I was checking on the Carapils in case I erred there too. There are two companies that use that name apparently. In North America, Briess uses it. Their Carapils can be steeped. But abroad Weyermann's Carapils aka Carafoam is slightly different. This article says its kind of borderline and probably needs to be mashed. I point it out because DaninSydney is in Australia and I am unsure of what he has available. Please don't put me on ignore Dan I am not usually 75% wrong, I'm easily in the 5-15% range!
 

VikeMan

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So I was checking on the Carapils in case I erred there too. There are two companies that use that name apparently. In North America, Briess uses it. Their Carapils can be steeped. But abroad Weyermann's Carapils aka Carafoam is slightly different. This article says its kind of borderline and probably needs to be mashed. I point it out because DaninSydney is in Australia and I am unsure of what he has available.
Yes, Briess Carapils is quite steepable. It's a very glassy caramel/crystal malt - virtually all of the starches have been converted to sugars and other things.

Weyermann Carafoam (U.S.), i.e. Weyermann Carapils (rest of world, AFAIK) has more unconverted starches, and really should be mashed.

I don't know what Briess Carapils is called in Australia.
 

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I make a ginger beer with extract and sugar ( only 2% abv ) and wanted to give it some body, normally I back sweeten it with monk fruit extract. I'm wondering can I steep this malt

in hot water at temp ? and for how long? to provide some unfermetables and put some head on the " beer ". I full mash my beers so the steeping is a grey area for me ( actually a black hole ). Hopefully then wouldn't need to back sweeten so much.
 

hottpeper13

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I think most extract brewers do it in the kitchen and clean up with dish soap. BAD things happen to foam. 3 times for me, pours great has head for about 2 sec. and looks like soda pop fizz. Each time the only common denominator was washed in dish soap. Was 3 beers in a row so that sucked. Washed everything in PBW and have head again.
 

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Here's my two cents. It involves hop oils, protein, and temperature.

Beers that have a moderate amount of hopping and have a protein component tend to foam and stay that way, especially if they're served slightly chilled or at room temperature. I've played with serving temps a bit and found cold beer will foam with a vigorous pour but the retention is short-lived. The same beer served barely chilled or at room temperature will retain a nice foam.
I will drink beers at different temps depending on the style and the weather. I like well-hopped, dark, and heavier beers during the fall and winter and will sometimes pour a nice porter or stout WARM when the weather is cold. The alcohol will tend to hit you more quickly and warm you in colder weather if you drink beer warm. Warm beer sounds weird but it works for me.
I don't recommend it but that's my personal taste from time to time. I always add wheat malt to my beers, never boil over an hour, and hop them above 20-30IBU with bittering hops. Never had an issue with all grain beers, espcially with some form of wheat in the mix.
 

Miraculix

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Here's my two cents. It involves hop oils, protein, and temperature.

Beers that have a moderate amount of hopping and have a protein component tend to foam and stay that way, especially if they're served slightly chilled or at room temperature. I've played with serving temps a bit and found cold beer will foam with a vigorous pour but the retention is short-lived. The same beer served barely chilled or at room temperature will retain a nice foam.
I will drink beers at different temps depending on the style and the weather. I like well-hopped, dark, and heavier beers during the fall and winter and will sometimes pour a nice porter or stout WARM when the weather is cold. The alcohol will tend to hit you more quickly and warm you in colder weather if you drink beer warm. Warm beer sounds weird but it works for me.
I don't recommend it but that's my personal taste from time to time. I always add wheat malt to my beers, never boil over an hour, and hop them above 20-30IBU with bittering hops. Never had an issue with all grain beers, espcially with some form of wheat in the mix.
I just came back from the Himalayas in upper Nepal and for the Sherpas living there, it's normal to place a can of beer opened next to the fire to warm it up.

Also their home brewed stuff, Chang and Arak is drunken warm to hot. It's actually us weird westerners doing strange things like putting beer into the fridge.
 

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