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I recently brewed a Belgian Wit extract kit. Bottle conditioned with 5 oz of priming sugar. I'm pretty happy with the taste. With a medium speed pour into a Pilsner glass, the beer develops a rather thick, probably three fingers tall head. It slowly fades but a small head remains throughout. Good lacing continues as well. I can see a lot of continuous streams from random nucleation sites in the glass. It looks beautiful IMHO.

The problem is that it doesn't taste very carbonated. Some go as far to say that it tastes flat.

Any ideas why it develops a great head but still tastes flat? Thanks!

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

You could just be under-carbonated. Wit beer, when done properly, has a gorgeous, thick head from all that protein in the wheat, regardless of how carbonated the bottles are. How long has the beer been bottled? Maybe give it another week or two, and make sure you pour it slowly. Did the beer dry out properly? A wit should be lower than 1.014 or so, I think. Under attenuation could result in a sweeter(sorta) beer, which might be perceived as less "sharp" or carbonated.

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I'm with Graham when he asks, "How long has the beer been bottled?" If it has only been in the bottle for a week or two, it's likely that the yeast are done with the priming sugar, but the CO2 isn't well integrated into the beer yet. I have found all of my brews suffer in the way you describe when I open them too early - all head and no carbonation. Wait another week or three and you'll get a 1-2 finger head atop a perfectly fizzy brew. –  JackSmith Jun 14 '11 at 12:26
    
It's been at around 3 weeks (maybe more). I'll check my brewing calendar at home to confirm. Final gravity was 1.016, I believe. The last 2 bottles have been in the fridge for about a week so I'll pop 2 more bottles in the fridge that have been ~70 degrees for an additional week and try those. –  Bob Banks Jun 14 '11 at 19:00

Try a cleaner glass. Sounds like most of the carbonation is coming out of solution during the pour. Give your glass a rinse with super hot water. A quick rinse with cool water to cool the glass off (hot glass will not help with carbonation), but don't worry about chilling the glass much. Don't bother drying the glass. Then pour your beer.

Super clean glassware is vital.

At least that's my guess.

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I would assume dirty glassware would create the opposite problem: no head, but the beer is still fizzy, like a soda. How can a dirty glass force the CO2 out of suspension? –  Graham Jun 14 '11 at 12:20
    
If the glassware is really gunky, like with chunks all over it, those would serve as nucleation sites for the CO2 to come out of suspension, like a small-scale diet coke & mentos trick. However, I want to think that Bob Banks isn't using glassware covered in chunks. The more common issue with glassware is soap residue, which is oily and has the effect Graham describes - little to no head and no head retention. –  JackSmith Jun 14 '11 at 13:05
    
I have poured many a beer into a glass at a friends house only to have plenty of foam and little carbonation. upon a good rinse in a new glass the beer foams less and has more carbonation. The glass does not have to be visibly gunky for this problem to happen. I think he is getting plenty of head because this style is very head retentive. But the head only comes from CO2 escaping the beer. Nucleation in from residue or dirt (visible or not) would serve to bring CO2 out, create head, and leave nothing behind. Grahams idea is good too. As the brewer he has to check on both issues. –  brewchez Jun 14 '11 at 17:23
    
I'll give this a shot tonight. –  Bob Banks Jun 14 '11 at 18:55

I'm seeing the exact same situation with a Belgium Ale. Granted, very early in the bottle conditioning it was like a soda, fizz, then nothing in a matter of seconds, flat, flat beer. It got better with time, a little bit of a head, but pretty much flat, now about three weeks out, a decent head and better carbonation, so, I'm holding out hope with more time. They don't package patience with beer kits!

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