Why I can't get head?

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ToddStark

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Now that I have your attention. I have brewed probably 20-25 LME 5 gal kits from a few suppliers. I have also just recently ventured into all grain brew in a bag and done a couple of wheat beers that had 45-50% wheat in the grain bill.

I have had a few different people try my beers over the last two years comment that my beers never seem to have any head. I am not big into getting a face full of foam as I try and find the beer at the bottom of the glass so I guess I never really paid much attention to their comments until I did the all grain wheat. My understanding is that wheat beers tend to have a LOT of proteins and in-turn a lot of head on the finished product. Now I am trying to figure out why I don't seem to ever have head deeper than say 1/8 inch.

I always use Whirlfloc tablet during the last 20 min of my boil and I almost always cold crash at the end of my ferment in attempts to clarify my beers. Do you guys think the Whirlfloc is removing too much of the proteins and basically giving me headless beers?
 

jekeane

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Probably not whirfloc related.

What do you clean your equipment with? Any dish soap? Glassware type and cleanliness also affect head retention.

How is your carbonation level?
 

divrack

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not whirlfloc related. could be any number of things though really. i find a step mash can boost it, assuming its not grain bill related
 

IslandLizard

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Whirlfloc tablet during the last 20 min of my boil
Maybe that's too long in the boil. Directions say to add 1/2 a tablet per 5 gallons in the last 5 minutes of the boil.
10 minutes for Irish Moss, but also 5 minutes if first rehydrated for 5-10 minutes.

As the others said, look for some "head killer" in your cleaning/sanitizing regimen. Dishwash soap can definitely do that.
I use lots of washing soda (Sodium Carbonate, soda ash, also sold as "laundry booster"). Cheap and cheerful. Or PBW where it really counts.
 
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ToddStark

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I wash everything in PBW. No dish detergent. My bottles get a spritz of starsan before the beer goes into the cleaned bottles.
 

AZCoolerBrewer

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Are you kegging or bottling. The other thing is that perhaps you aren’t getting the carbonation level that provides a good head. Everybody jumps my ship when I mention it, but it has been my experience that flips tops leak. They allow a low levels of carbonation when leaking but not enough to make a good head.
 

IslandLizard

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Are you kegging or bottling. The other thing is that perhaps you aren’t getting the carbonation level that provides a good head. Everybody jumps my ship when I mention it, but it has been my experience that flips tops leak. They allow a low levels of carbonation when leaking but not enough to make a good head.
Excellent point, so often overlooked!
When it comes to flip tops I always flip the rubber gasket when cleaning, and store them with the bail released.

He mentioned in #7 that he's bottling.
 
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ToddStark

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Yes I have only bottled so far and I always use the crimp on metal caps.

Now I do tend to use 5 oz of diluted corn sugar per 5 gal in my bottling bucket fairly consistently. Generally lots of bubbles when the beer is poured and has a nice sound when you pry off the bottle cap. But since that is a consistency across all my beers, maybe I am too low. I would be hesitant to go much higher. Bottle bombs have always spooked me.
 

AZCoolerBrewer

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I like a nicely carbonated beer. 5 oz. is a little low and far from bottle bombs. I think you could easily go up to 6 oz. to try and achieve 2.5 volumes. To me there’s a huge difference between 2 and 2.5 volumes.
 

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Not mentioned was the hopping levels of the beer.
Serving temperature matters, too. A beer served warm will tend to have better foam persistence than a cold beer.
 

bracconiere

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I wish i could give you some head! (off my beer, in case any of you have dirty minds, lol)

here's what my last pour looked like! it's f'in up my calorie counting cuz i can't get a good 12oz glass!

100_0490.JPG
 

GPP33

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It’s easy to pour a beer with no head at all from a bottle. Have you tied just pouring it right down the middle? Tip it up and dump it in!
 

bracconiere

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It’s easy to pour a beer with no head at all from a bottle. Have you tied just pouring it right down the middle? Tip it up and dump it in!
wouldn't that be gross because of yeast?

but it would probably have more folate and thiamin in it!
 

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I think people missed the part where he said these are LME kits.

Extract brews often don't have much head. You can try steeping some carapils/carafoam. Steeping is similar to mashing, but the temperature and amount of water aren't as picky.
 

kh54s10

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I like a nicely carbonated beer. 5 oz. is a little low and far from bottle bombs. I think you could easily go up to 6 oz. to try and achieve 2.5 volumes. To me there’s a huge difference between 2 and 2.5 volumes.
I find that most of my beers are nicely carbonated to 2.5 with less than 5 ounces of corn sugar.

I use this calculator: https://www.northernbrewer.com/pages/priming-sugar-calculator

In fact for 2.5 in 5 gallons at a maximum temperature of 70 degrees it says to use 4.5 ounces. 6 ounces would get you just over 3.0 volumes and approaching the pressure to cause concern of bottle bombs.
 

GPP33

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wouldn't that be gross because of yeast?

but it would probably have more folate and thiamin in it!
You can do it and leave the yeast in the bottle. When I said tip it up I meant the glass, don’t lay it over at an angle as you fill it and don’t let the beer run down the side of the glass.

I think people missed the part where he said these are LME kits.

Extract brews often don't have much head. You can try steeping some carapils/carafoam. Steeping is similar to mashing, but the temperature and amount of water aren't as picky.
I think you missed the part where he said it’s happening on his AG batches.
 

AZCoolerBrewer

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I find that most of my beers are nicely carbonated to 2.5 with less than 5 ounces of corn sugar.

I use this calculator: https://www.northernbrewer.com/pages/priming-sugar-calculator

In fact for 2.5 in 5 gallons at a maximum temperature of 70 degrees it says to use 4.5 ounces. 6 ounces would get you just over 3.0 volumes and approaching the pressure to cause concern of bottle bombs.
He said he diluted the corn sugar, so I assumed he is using syrup, which you need right around 6 oz. of for 2.5 volumes at 5 gallons and 70 degrees.
 
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ToddStark

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He said he diluted the corn sugar, so I assumed he is using syrup, which you need right around 6 oz. of for 2.5 volumes at 5 gallons and 70 degrees.
I'm sorry, when I said diluted corn sugar I meant that I break it down in a small amount of water first before I add it to my priming bucket. I have heard some just pour the sugar directly into the beer and stir it.
 
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ToddStark

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I find that most of my beers are nicely carbonated to 2.5 with less than 5 ounces of corn sugar.

I use this calculator: https://www.northernbrewer.com/pages/priming-sugar-calculator

In fact for 2.5 in 5 gallons at a maximum temperature of 70 degrees it says to use 5.5 ounces. 6 ounces would get you just over 3.0 volumes and approaching the pressure to cause concern of bottle bombs.
I will try 5.5 oz of corn sugar the next time I bottle, thank you.
 

bpgreen

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You can do it and leave the yeast in the bottle. When I said tip it up I meant the glass, don’t lay it over at an angle as you fill it and don’t let the beer run down the side of the glass.



I think you missed the part where he said it’s happening on his AG batches.
Oops. You're right. I missed that.
 

RM-MN

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I will try 5.5 oz of corn sugar the next time I bottle, thank you.
Use the calculator and get the right amount of corn sugar. Just adding more can lead to an exploding bottle which can throw the broken glass over 30 feet.

Any soap or detergent residue anywhere in your brewing system can create headless beer. Wash with the right concentration of the cleaner, then rinse and rinse again in another vessel to make sure you don't carry the cleaner through to the glass. I had a couple batches without heading that I traced to using too much cleaner for the bottles and it contaminiated the rinse so that the bottles had a slight amount of cleaner left in them when I filled them.
 

AZCoolerBrewer

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Starsan has a surfactant in it. I’m not trying to start anything but it seems like the soap residue thing is overstated. Head is a little bit of a moving target. I got a twelve pack of Oscar Blues Dave’s Pale Ale. Every beer I had from the twelve pack had a good head, but 1 out of 4 was too much head. I’m not sure what I did differently with the beers that had huge heads, but I generally just wash my beer glasses in the dishwasher. So good head is attainable with regular dishwashing soap.

As far as bottle bombs. Maybe I have bottle bombs in my future, but the risk is to me overstated. My most recent experience where I worried about bottle bombs is my latest brew, a partigyle that seemed to have stuck at 1.038 from 1.120 for the big beer. I left it for 4 weeks to prime and had dead beer after. I opened it and repitched Champagne yeast and have gotten my expected carbonation level after a week. If you pay attention to the indicators, bottle bombs are a remote risk in my opinion.
 

kh54s10

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Starsan has a surfactant in it. I’m not trying to start anything but it seems like the soap residue thing is overstated. Head is a little bit of a moving target. I got a twelve pack of Oscar Blues Dave’s Pale Ale. Every beer I had from the twelve pack had a good head, but 1 out of 4 was too much head. I’m not sure what I did differently with the beers that had huge heads, but I generally just wash my beer glasses in the dishwasher. So good head is attainable with regular dishwashing soap.

As far as bottle bombs. Maybe I have bottle bombs in my future, but the risk is to me overstated. My most recent experience where I worried about bottle bombs is my latest brew, a partigyle that seemed to have stuck at 1.038 from 1.120 for the big beer. I left it for 4 weeks to prime and had dead beer after. I opened it and repitched Champagne yeast and have gotten my expected carbonation level after a week. If you pay attention to the indicators, bottle bombs are a remote risk in my opinion.
Go ahead and risk it. If your batches are for 5 gallons and you need to use more than 5 ounces of corn sugar to get carbonation, either you like really high carbonation, or you are doing something wrong.

I do use my glasses from the dishwasher. I don't use any drying agent in it. I find that if I rinse out the glass well I get more head. Or the second beer will have more head than the first. It is a small difference but it is noticeable.
 

kh54s10

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I find that most of my beers are nicely carbonated to 2.5 with less than 5 ounces of corn sugar.

I use this calculator: https://www.northernbrewer.com/pages/priming-sugar-calculator

In fact for 2.5 in 5 gallons at a maximum temperature of 70 degrees it says to use 4.5 ounces. 6 ounces would get you just over 3.0 volumes and approaching the pressure to cause concern of bottle bombs.
I will try 5.5 oz of corn sugar the next time I bottle, thank you.
My original quote says to use 4.5 ounces. When you quoted it, it says 5.5 ounces. Somehow it changed. I am making a statement that over 5 ounces should not be necessary. Actually less than 5 ounces is usually right. I don't think I have ever used 5 ounces or more. Maybe that much for a Belgian ale??
 

VirginiaHops1

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I use about the same amount of corn sugar as OP when I bottle, if anything probably slightly less, and mine have easily carbed up. I would guess the issue is something else. Have you always used the same brand of corn sugar? I wouldn't think there'd be any difference across brands though.
 
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ToddStark

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I use about the same amount of corn sugar as OP when I bottle, if anything probably slightly less, and mine have easily carbed up. I would guess the issue is something else. Have you always used the same brand of corn sugar? I wouldn't think there'd be any difference across brands though.
Couldn't tell you what brand I use. The kits always came with her own five ounce packet. And then I bought a couple pound packet I believe from Northern Brewer
 

VirginiaHops1

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What temperature do you bottle condition, and for how long? Mine carb up in about a week if I put them in the closet where its high 70s, low 80s during the summer. I once bottle conditioned a batch in the fermenter at about 68 and it took several weeks.
 
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ToddStark

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What temperature do you bottle condition, and for how long? Mine carb up in about a week if I put them in the closet where its high 70s, low 80s during the summer. I once bottle conditioned a batch in the fermenter at about 68 and it took several weeks.
I leave mine in the well house it generally stays 70 to 75 degrees and I don't touch them for at 2 weeks
 

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How long do you typically cold crash for? I made a belgian that I CC'd for close to a week and I used about 6 oz corn sugar dissolved in boiled water. Even after a few months there's hardly any carbonation or head. I think I managed to get rid of most of the yeast...although I did slightly underpitch due to way over shooting target OG.
The other thing you could try is looking into the malt analyst sheets to make sure the wheat malt your using has a high enough protein content.
 
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