Terrible beer... no head retention... help :)

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Bayern1987

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Right I'm just going to put it out there... my latest Hefeweizen has zero head retention... tastes bland... it's quite depressing...

I have been brewing all grain for around a year... made about 15 batches with differing results and a couple of good Hefeweizens... my latest lager has great head retention...

I have been tweaking lots of things grain bill mash schedule and water volumes...

Basically I am at a loss and it is giving me a headache... I have a 30L mash kettle and fo a batch sparge or sometimes rinse the grains into another bucket... I really just want to have a solid method going forward... could someone please write me instructions step by step water volumes the lot with the ideal grain bill for the perfect hefe? Looking at maybe Weihenstephaner / Franziskaner...

I mean every step by step thing... water volumes is messing my head up big time and I am at my wits end trying to work out all the calculations... I need to fo back to basics.... just looking for step by step instructions for success.

Thank you in advance brewheads :)
 

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I can't give you water volumes, at least not at first, because we'd need to know your grainbill, your boil volume, your batch size, your equpment, but I can help with a basic hefeweizen recipe.

47% wheat malt
48% 2-row barley malt
5% carapils
1 ounce hallertauer at 60 minutes
Wyeast 3068

That's about it. And make sure it's well carbed- hefeweizens are generally carbed up to a higher level than many beers, target 2.7 or so to start. Your photo looks like the beer is dark and undercarbed so I'd start there.
 

doug293cz

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To know your optimal water volumes, you have to start at the end of the process and work back to the beginning.

Start with how much beer you want to package (bottle or keg), then
  • Add in how much trub volume you typically leave in the bottom of your fermenter after bottling/kegging. This will give you your target "to fermenter" volume.
  • Add in how much trub volume you typically leave in the bottom of your boil kettle after racking to your fermenter. This will give you your target post-boil volume.
  • Add in how much volume you typically boil off. This will give you your target pre-boil volume.
If batch sparging or no-sparge, you now need to figure out how much volume you will lose to grain absorption. To do this, multiply your grain bill weight by the grain absorption rate (in gal/lb or L/kg.) Grain absorption rate depends on your lautering technique. A traditional mash tun will have a rate of about 0.12 - 0.125 gal/lb. BIAB can be anywhere from about 0.1 gal/lb down to 0.05 gal/lb, depending on how long you drain the bag and how aggressively you squeeze.
  • Add your expected total grain absorption to your target pre-boil volume to get your "total brewing water" volume
  • If doing no sparge, your strike water volume will be your total brewing water volume
  • If doing a single batch sparge, then you should use about 60% of your total brewing water as your strike volume, and use the remaining 40% for your batch sparge. This will maximize your lauter efficiency.
If fly sparging then just mash with enough water to get your preferred mash thickness (usually about 1.25 qt/lb), and then sparge with enough water to get your target pre-boil volume. No need to calculate grain absorption. Your available sparge water volume should be greater than your target pre-boil volume.

To calculate all of the above volumes, you need to start with estimated volumes for grain absorption, boil-off, kettle trub, and fermenter trub. Then when you brew, measure the actual volumes for all of these. The more you brew, the more you will be able to fine tune these loss volumes.

Most of the losses are measured just by subtracting after volumes from before volumes for each step. For grain absorption rate, you need to subtract pre-boil volume from total brewing water volume, and then divide by the grain bill weight.

For the highest accuracy in your calculations, all measured water/wort volumes should be corrected for thermal expansion, back to room temp. Water/wort shrinks about 2% from mash temp to room temp, so multiply mash temp volumes by 0.98 to get room temp volumes. Shrinkage from boiling is about 4%, so multiply boil temp volumes by 0.96 to get room temp volumes.

_____________________________________

Sorry don't have any advice for you on fixing head formation/retention. :(

Brew on :mug:
 
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Bayern1987

Bayern1987

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Thanks amigos...

First of all that recipe isn't far off what I go for...

Here is a general idea:
3.6Kg Weyermann Wheat
1.5Kg German Pilsner
0.9Kg Munich Malt

Hochkurz mash with 18L of strike water:
63C for 20 Minutes
71C for 45 Minutes
77C for 14 Minutes

Sparge:
9L batch sparge for 15 minutes (just let it sit in the bucket whilst the kettle heats up) then squeeze the bag

Boil for 70 Minutes:
30g of Hallertau Mittelfruh @ 60

Fermentation:
3068 fresh smack pack for 2 weeks

Bottle carbonation to 3.6 Volumes using a mix of DME and Dextrose

Left for over a month and no great changes.... do you think maybe more of a starter? Trying to underpitch slight for eaters but could this be it? Although then again it can't just be this factor... although the temps were up and down during fermentation... but even the hefeweizens I have made before although better still had head issues.

My latest lager (used more water and less protein in the grain bill) had great head retention - I used a 2.5L starter. Just thinking fermentation but can't be the only answer here.

Any ideas? Thank you for your help. I do have some experience to back up my goals however I am just getting scunnered recently with not being able to perfect my favourite beer.

Danke schon. Appreciate your time :)
 

TheBluePhantom

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Some basics on beer head retention.

-Say yes to carapils or carafoam. These provide proteins for head formation.
-Don't over do the kettle finings, Irish moss and such can take out the proteins that are needed for head formation.
-I agree with Yooper, it looks undercarbed.
-Clean the glass, dirty glasses kill a head, too.
 

30_Ounce

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Wheat has so much protein contribution that you should not need carapils. It certainly won’t hurt anything. My last batch of Hefeweizen was 50% Pilsner 50% pale wheat malt, both from Weyermann, 10 IBU Hallertau at 60 minutes and I made a starter to exactly under pitch by 50%. Oxygenated for 1 minute during transfer (I have a plate chiller and oxygen system to accomplish both during transfer to conical) and pitched at 63 degrees and held it there until fermentation was completed. The dark color of yours suggests that it might be oxygenated which can hurt head retention too. Here’s a picture of mine...
 

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Bayern1987

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That's the game and exactly what I'm looking for! I was thinking maybe not a a great fermentation for mine but surely it wouldn't lead to non existent head retention........

The colour of mine could also be down to the addition on munich malt as I don't perform a decoction and if anything that should promote head?

Oxygenation is worth looking into... I don't have such a system but I do give it a good stir.... and also with my lagers I use a similar method and my last one has great head retention (see photo)... also use the same process and there was no obvious oxygenation issues with them! This has been my last 2 batches of hefeweizen turned out this way. I am at a loss... every thing I have tried to change doesn't lead to a decent beer with good head retention... I have had better hefeweizen with better head but still disappears after a short while...

Do you think adding torrified wheat would help? Although it has 60% wheat already ha!
 
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Bayern1987

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My lager... could it be not pitching a decent starter? Just want to ensure I get decent banana and eaters... would a 1L starter with half a smack pack of 3068 (split between two starters for different batches) be the answer of good fermentation whilst still providing good eaters? Thank you :)
 

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hottpeper13

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I know this sounds weird but I washed my BIAB bag with dish soap each time after 3 batches( smelled so good and clean) and all of that beer was fully carbed , came out of the tap with foam then it disappeared before I could get the glass to my lips. Before the next brew I soaked in PBW and my head was back.
 

Dgallo

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with the amount of wheat used a hef should have no issues with head retention. I would check your cleaning and make sure you used proper products and that you set your carb to a proper level
 

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My lager... could it be not pitching a decent starter? Just want to ensure I get decent banana and eaters... would a 1L starter with half a smack pack of 3068 (split between two starters for different batches) be the answer of good fermentation whilst still providing good eaters? Thank you :)
Not sure what you're asking here. :rolleyes:
Your Hefe is not a Lager and WY3068 is not a Lager yeast.

With WY3068 banana esters can be exemplified (or subdued) by controlling/manipulating fermentation variables. My emphasis in bold/red:

WYeast.com said:
Profile: The classic and most popular German wheat beer strain used worldwide. This yeast strain produces a beautiful and delicate balance of banana esters and clove phenolics. The balance can be manipulated towards ester production through increasing the fermentation temperature, increasing the wort density, and decreasing the pitch rate. Over pitching can result in a near complete loss of banana character. Decreasing the ester level will allow a higher clove character to be perceived. Sulfur is commonly produced, but will dissipate with conditioning. This strain is very powdery and will remain in suspension for an extended amount of time following attenuation. This is true top cropping yeast and requires fermentor headspace of 33%.

Metric Temperature Range: 18-24 °C
Yeast viability (healthy cell count) can be estimated with a yeast pitch calculator, such as this one (there are others).
BrewUnited's Yeast Calculator

It's always good (and advised) to make a starter from a yeast pack as you don't really know how viable she is, because you don't know how she has been handled and stored before you obtained it. The date on the pack is not all-telling.

By making a yeast starter you can have a much closer control of how many cells you'll have when the starter is done, and pitch the amount of cells needed for the batch. In case of Hefe's you can intentionally pitch a low amount, ferment at higher temps, and even ferment at a higher gravity (then dilute the beer with water when packaging) to skew the results toward a stronger banana flavor profile.

As a bonus, by overbuilding starters you can save some good, fresh yeast out to make a starter from for a next batch. And so on.
 
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Bayern1987

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Hi Lizard...

Thanks for information very much appreciated. Yes I know all of this about esters etc. I have been studying and brewing with this yeast for quite a while now but look at my original post... my hefes are suffering from terrible head retention... I am looking at all different factors. It was suggested it may be due to oxygenation but the process is much the same as my lager... that's my point and it has great head retention.

I was thinking that would the head retention may be a consequence of a flaw in my fermentation? I would be willing to up the pitch rate with a starter but would this make a difference to head retention? Also I wouldn't want to risk losing too much of the esters. I would have to get the balance right but do you think it could be the fermentation causing lack of head retention?

Thanks for the info tho the more I know about this yeast the better. It is my all time favourite :)
 

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From the picture, your beer looks dead.
Possibly oxidized, it looks dark, darker than I'd expect from ~15% Munich, the rest being very pale malts. A Hefe is yellow, not brown.
You definitely got zer0 carbonation. Do those bottles seal well?

How was the attenuation in that (murky brownish) beer in the picture?
If it's as predicted (or close) it's not the fermentation/yeast.
 
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Bayern1987

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I agree with you Lizard... I've used Munich before and it didn't seem to be as dark... strange cos the process was the same as for the lager...

The attenuation I can't remember I think it was about 1.10 - 1.12 but it was left for at least 2 weeks and then bottle conditioned for at least 4...

Yes the bottles seal well and they were highly carbed to around 3.6 volumes... the head is great as soon as it is poured and fritters away almost instantly....

I have tried soaking everything in pbw and over sterilising/ sanitising everything.... got a batch of lager fermenting just now and going to brew up another couple of wheats next month... just want to ensure I perfect it and sort this head retention issue before then :)
 

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So the beer pours with a head, but the head collapses quickly. Can you describe the look of the head (while it lasted)? Was it fluffy, or more like soda pop bubbles? A hefe should be like the former. If it's fizzy like soda pop, maybe the glassware?

Never use soaps or detergents on glassware. I use Starsan on mine, then rinse in water and drip-dry on a towel. Soap film can break down the head.
 

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I don't think that either of these two below points are likely but need to ask.
I notice you are using DME and dextrose to prime the bottles any chance is it a dark malt extract to account for the colour. Are the bottles super clean before bottling no film of yeast in the bottom of them left over from the last wheat beer?

I'm wondering as many others about an oxidised beer, perhaps occurring in the phase between ferment finished and bottling the lager could be hinting at oxidation as well it's not that pale but it could be the style you have brewed.

The other question is what water profile do you use for the Hefe? and I couldn't spot any mention about the taste of the problem beer that might give us some clues as well.
 

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brew up another couple of wheats next month... just want to ensure I perfect it and sort this head retention issue before then :)
What kind of wheat are you using? Malted, (raw) flaked, or other?
Wheat malt has much smaller kernels than barley and needs to be milled on a finer gap. Otherwise you're losing wheat character and efficiency (gravity).

You're not doing some intended (or unintended) long protein rest, I hope?
A protein rest longer than 10-15 minutes (at 121-131F) can kill head forming proteins very effectively. Even when ramping up from 121F (protein rest) to 145F takes too long, it will spend too much time in the protein conversion stage, giving foam and head issues later on.

Your Lager has the kind of head one would expect, or even thicker, with all that wheat protein.
If the head is still lacking, maybe add some Carafoam or Carapils to the recipe. 3-5% ought to do it.
 
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Bayern1987

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The head was not fluffy or creamy at all it was just like detergent bubbles for want of a better description and you could easily see them all bubble and fade away almost instantly...

I did actually use a dark malt extract now come to think of it! So I wouldn't debut was oxidized...

No protein rest either... just 63C for 20 minutes and 71C for around 45 minutes then a mash out at 76C followed by a batch sparge.

Thanks :)
 
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Bayern1987

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What do you guys think about this? The batch I had been looking forward to trying (Holsten Pils clone) and it has an infection? Or yeast rafts? Thanks :)
 

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It doesn't look ready to try yet. Assume this has finished fermenting FG? and you are about to package. Suggest you taste the gravity sample and you'll know if it has a bad infection and save the packaging. My feeling is just floating yeast if tastes okay and gravity final.
 

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What do you guys think about this? The batch I had been looking forward to trying (Holsten Pils clone) and it has an infection? Or yeast rafts? Thanks :)
It is hard to tell. It looks more like normal yeast activity than infection. A pellicle layer will often form a film that traps bubbles, and I don't see that here.
 

IslandLizard

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I can't tell either. Pellicles also tend to grow thicker over time, so it may reveal itself over the next few days. Especially now the lid has been lifted.

It looks like there's an oily film on the surface, with some bubbles underneath. That could be an indication of a pellicle.
Have you tasted it?

That "clear hole" (patch) at 7 o'clock would indicate it's not a pellicle. Do you know why that clear patch is there? Did you stick a stirring spoon in it, or so?

Did you remove the lid to bottle the batch, or just to take the picture?
It's best to leave the lid on unless there's a good reason and absolutely necessary to remove it. Such as right before bottling, which is OK.
Otherwise you'd lose the CO2 rich headspace, which would be filled with air (O2 being the bandit), which can cause oxidation and infections.

This looks pretty dark for a Pilsen too. Using Munich?

What do you use to clean and sanitize your fermenter and other cold side equipment. Are you using an airlock?
 
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Bayern1987

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I removed the lid only to add gelatin findings... this is the first time I've lifted it and I am usually quite strict when it comes to sensitisation and oxidation. It looks slightly like the last time I had yeast rafts but still different. The reason for it being dark and I know this is strange but the only recipe I could find online for Holsten pils called for a very small percentage of crystal and wheat malt... as well as some late goldings additions. I found this strange and wanted 5o tontey it out as someone else said it strangely worked to make Holsten Pils lager clone. I'll attach the recipe for you to see...

It has been in the fermenter for 3-4 weeks also so it has had time to fully reach final gravity... can only wait and see how it turns out! I also tasted a sample over a week ago and it was fine... quite similar even then... just hoping it is yeast rafts and this turns out great :)
 

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Also... I do remember the other day picking up the fermenter to move it and the airlock liquid (sanitiser) being sucked back in slightly... this has happened to other batches however without any adverse affects.
 

IslandLizard

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The head was not fluffy or creamy at all it was just like detergent bubbles for want of a better description and you could easily see them all bubble and fade away almost instantly...
I've been there too, with an Oatmeal Mild.
Had that big bubble, soda-like, quickly disappearing head. Carbonation also lacked badly, whatever I tried.
It was good tasting, there just was no head. I chalked it up the the oils in the oatmeal (16% of the grist) and possibly the Golden Naked Oats (which are very oily!) at 9% of the grist.

It was mashed very high, intentionally, @161F (71.6C) and contained a high percentage of flaked oatmeal. Being a Mild, having low gravity (1.033), it came in at 2.5% ABV, with lots of mouthfeel. Just no head, and low carbonation, almost as if the beer wouldn't dissolve much.

Onto your new brew, Holsten Pils.
I had to look up what Holsten Pils actually is. Sounds more like a Light Lager. "Light" referring to having a light body, similarly to many macro brews (e.g., Budweiser, Miller, Coors) all around the world.

Thanks for posting the recipe. Did you brew it that way?
Regarding that 150g of "Crystal." Crystal comes in many different colors. From a light 10°Lovibond all the way to 150°L (very dark), possibly beyond.
So without the recipe mentioning the color of the crystal, you're on your own. ;)
Not at all saying a darker beer would be inferior, it may be better. But most of brew success is process, process, process.
 
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Bayern1987

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Thanks for the info! It's amazing how different little things can affect head retention... I am going to look at water profile again cos my very first hefe was a lot better if I remember correctly and I added a fair amount of calcium chloride as well as some gypsum in a 2:1 ratio.

I brewed it more or less that way in regards to ingredients. I never added the sugar however and I mashed at 63C for 30 minutes and 70C for an hour, similar to my hefes and what I usually stick to. The holdings hop addition looked out of place as other mentioned to me before but after tasting it and comparing it 5o Holsten Pils I do see why this would be a good addition to a clone. Holsten has a slight goldings nose when first poured. I have attached info on the crystal I used too! Thanks Lizard :)
 

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IslandLizard

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I have attached info on the crystal I used too!
Thanks!

That should not cause problems with foam and head formation. Just gives your beer a somewhat darker color, while adding (subtle) caramel notes when used at a small %.

EBC 145-165 is around 60 °Lovibond, so a medium dark crystal. Similar to Briess' C-60.
Now British Crystal is a bit different in character from say German CaraMalts or U.S. Crystal, but color contribution should be similar for the same EBC or Lovibond values/ranges.
 
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Bayern1987

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Nice one thanks Lizard.

I struggle with water volumes, etc. And never knowing I am squeezing the bag too much! If using 5kg of malt would you give me an idea of best mash volume/ batch storage volume? I am going to go back to basics. Just want to brew a really good hefe and stick with it that's what I drink the most. I cant are by 3068 and all the wonderful flavours of that beer!

Thank you :)
 
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