little to no head retention?

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Tobyone

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so after 3 weeks of conditioning my 1st batch of brew I chilled a few last night and sampled them. I would say they were carbonated just right, not to much, not to little. They tasted very good, not great but hey I'm ok with that. However once I poured them in the glass there was very little if any at all head retention. Possible causes? If I had to guess it would have to be that I sanitized my bottles with c-brite and didn't rinse them off afterward. The sanitizer solution is/was a tad bit stronger than called for. After examining the bottles there was just a slight tinge of dried sanitizer residue on the outside of the bottles. Could that be it?
Overall I'm very pleased. I can live without a little head. Next time I[m sanitizing in the dishwasher (yes it has a sanitize option).
 

weirdboy

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It could be your glass is dirty or has some residue on it. Especially if you are running it through the dishwasher. But some beers don't retain head as well. Generally speaking, the more body in your beer, the better head retention you will get. A LOT of homebrewers will add a bit or Carapils/Dextrine to their grain bill, which boosts body and tends to give you a much nicer head on your beer. If you are an all-grain brewer just changing your mash temperature can have a big effect. Also stuff like dry hopping can aid head retention.
 
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Tobyone

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gotcha. I didn't clean my first batch of bottles in the dishwasher but I will be careful when I do to make sure they are clean. My 1st batch was a coopers kit and didn't know much about much (still dont) so I used the standard corn sugar in the wort and to prime. My 2nd batch is a partial mash that I just dry hopped after 2 weeks in primary and used DME instead of dextrose. again, it's no big deal (head retention) I'm just glad to taste good. Thanks
 

weirdboy

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I wouldn't worry as much about the bottles, except for sanitation purposes of course.

It's more important to make sure the glass is clean.

I use corn or cane sugar to prime all my beers. I wouldn't worry about using dextrose for that; the amount you use for priming is negligible and won't really affect the body appreciably. However I suspect using DME instead of LME could make a difference. Totally unscientific and unsubstantiated, but I read somewhere that the manufacturers add to DME to improve body, although I cannot find a reference right now. And of course that would depend on what's in the LME, and what temperature it was mashed at, etc.
 

lamarguy

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FWIW, c-brite isn't a sanitizer, it's a cleanser. As such, it should be rinsed with a sanitizing solution or sanitary water. ;)

It's possible the c-brite residue is interfering with the head but I imagine you could taste it if the concentration was that high. More likely, the poor head is a result of your brewing process.

Many things can kill beer head, namely:

  1. Unhealthy and/or insufficient yeast
  2. Insufficient boil vigor or time
  3. Poor quality malt or extract (not likely)
  4. High temperature fermentation (fusel alcohols)
  5. Soap residue on glassware
  6. ...

I don't recommend blindly adding carapils, etc. in an attempt to fix poor head. 100% pilsner/2-row malt will produce a great head by itself...
 

weirdboy

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lamarguy makes some good points. I don't usually think of those things because I have already got those well under control in my own brewing process, but they could definitely have an impact on head retention.
 
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Tobyone

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so i've read this about c-brite not being a sanitizer. How's that? it's chlorine based. It should kill anything right?
Also now that you mentioned it, it could be the high fermenting temps. I fermented it at about 77*. The peeps at the LHBS told me that would be fine. The current batch i'm brewing I'm using a swamp cooler and it has been holding at about 70* or slightly below.
 

Revvy

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If it's not "quite" carbed enough yet, then that's more than likely why you don't have much head yet. It's just not quite ready yet. Nothing fancy, nothing that needs to be done to "fix" it, you just may need more time...

The 3 weeks at 70 degrees, that that we recommend is the minimum time it takes for average gravity beers to carbonate and condition. Higher grav beers take longer.

Stouts and porters have taken me between 6 and 8 weeks to carb up..I have a 1.090 Belgian strong that took three months to carb up.

Temp and gravity are the two factors that contribute to the time it takes to carb beer. But if a beer's not ready yet, or seems low carbed, and you added the right amount of sugar to it, then it's not stalled, it's just not time yet.

If a beer isn't carbed by "x number of weeks" you just have to give them ore time. If you added your sugar, then the beer will carb up eventually, it's really a foolroof process. All beers will carb up eventually. A lot of new brewers think they have to "troubleshoot" a bottling issue, when there really is none, the beer knows how to carb itself. In fact if you run beersmiths carbing calculator, some lower grav beers don't even require additional sugar to reach their minimum level of carbonation. Just time.

Everything you need to know about carbing and conditioning, can be found here Of Patience and Bottle Conditioning. With emphasis on the word, "patience." ;)


But if it's not quite carbed yet, it's also going to not quite be developed in head retention yet either.
 
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