5

I know there are lots of questions on this site regarding head retention, but I feel like none of the answers are helpful.

I recently made a hefeweizen. 50% wheat malt, 50% pilser malt with about 13-14 IBUs. The beer turned out great except that it has zero head retention. I get a thin layer of foam that dissipates in 5-10 seconds. I have had this problem in the past and I've tried all the traditional advice but nothing seems to help.

Still, I must be doing something wrong.

Brewing process:

  • Single infusion mash at 67 C (~152 F).
  • 90 minute boil with all the hops added after 30 minutes.
  • Cooled quickly with my counterflow chiller, takes about 10 minutes.
  • 30 second burst of pure O2
  • Pitched a 3 liter starter of WLP380. Wort temp at about 13 C (~55 F).
  • Fermented at 15 C (59 F) for one week, then left it for another three weeks at 20 C (68 F) to finish and get rid of the sulphur smell.
  • Bottled using 7 grams of table sugar per liter wort.
  • The bottles have been at room temperature for four weeks now. They are well carbonated and taste great.

Cleaning:

  • My kettle, mash tun and all other equipment is soaked in PBW solution for about an hour after each use, then thoroughly rinsed off using hot tap water and a soft brush. I've made sure there's no PBW residue left.
  • My fermenter is also cleaned using PWB, rinsed with tap water, then sanitized with star-san solution. I leave the fermenter filled with star-san at least 30 minutes before transfering the wort.
  • I clean my bottles using PBW too. I soak them for 10 minutes and clean them with a bottle brush. Then I rinse them with water and sanitize with star-san solution. I leave them to dry on a bottle tree.
  • My beer glasses are cleaned by leaving them in PBW solution over night, then cleaned with a dedicated soft brush, rinsed with hot tap water and left to air dry on a rack.

Things I've tried:

  • Adding a bit of cara foam malt: No visible effect.
  • Ordered a water quality report: My tap water is clean and very low on minerals.
  • Switching to a different brand for my ingredients: No visible effect.

Has anyone here had similar problems in the past? I feel like I'm out of things to try.

So, to sum every thing up:

I get this:

enter image description here

I want this:

enter image description here

How do I get there?

3
  • What percentage of your grist is Carafoam? I now use 5% in all my beers and get far better head than previously. Also, you should have 2.5-3.0 volumes of CO2 in the beer. How does it feel on your tongue? Sep 27 '16 at 2:32
  • I've tried using 3-5%. I feel that I shouldn't need carafoam, more than half of the grist consists of wheat malt.
    – arnefm
    Oct 12 '16 at 8:54
  • I have a dunkelweizen that is 52% wheat which benefitted from carafoam. Oct 13 '16 at 20:09
2

You need to add a dextrin rest in your mash and use a thick water grist ratio 0.25 gallons per lb of grain.

At 152°F(66.5C) your mash favors beta-amylase for a more fermentable wort which is fine. Beta will denature completely after an hour at this temp, leaving alpha. Both are active at this temp but not ideal for either.

After most saccarification is done boosting mash temp to 162°F(72C) and holding for 20 minutes will help head forming materials. This needs to be done after primary saccarification but before the mash is iodine negative (still some starches)

Also don't remove hot break from the boil. Many will scoop this out to prevent boil over but this removes head forming proteins. Use a fry scoop to break it up and push it back in. I've started using "foam control" in the boil which works amazingly well. Its intended for fermentaion but a few drops drops in a 12g batch makes for a hot break you don't have to monitor.

5
  • Thank you for your answer. I've been led to believe that a protein rest is unecessary with fully modified malts and that it can only hurt head retention. I have not tried it with hefeweizen, however, so I will give it a shot. I have done protein rests when making wit in the past, this resulted in a stuck mash and a thick layer of bluish-gray clay-like stuff on top of my grains, which I think are the proteins. I do use a anti foam product in my yeast starters. I have not had any problems with hot break so I have never used it during boil. My kettle has a lot of head space!
    – arnefm
    Aug 23 '16 at 20:28
  • I would also suggest adding un-malted wheat, or flaked/rolled barley, or oats, to add extra proteins for head retention. I had a similar issue with my wheat, and swapped a pound out of malted wheat, and the head was much better.
    – jsolarski
    Aug 23 '16 at 21:56
  • @arnefm I kinda mispoke there it's called a dextrin rest and needs to start before all the starches are converted. Protien rests are at a much lower temp, before saccarification. Aug 24 '16 at 0:29
  • Sorry my reply is late (by four years!). Changing my mash temperatures solved my problem, although not exactly like described in this reply. I tried a hochkurz mash where I start at 63 C, then increase to 72 C and it solved my problem completely. I have started using these temperatures for all my beers now, adjusting fermentability by controlling the time of each rest, and I'm never going back to single infusion.
    – arnefm
    Jan 28 '20 at 13:12
  • @arnefm better late than never, ty Jan 28 '20 at 15:43
0

I would consider leaving it a bit longer to sit and age in the bottle.

I have had similar results before where a couple of weeks after bottling there has been terrible head formation and retention, then at about the 6 week mark the character of the head completely changes, something oxidises or breaks down and hey presto head formation occurs. Doesn't always work but I have had this happen in the past.

Low IBU beers will more often have head formation/retention issues vs high IBU beers as alpha acids act to stabilise the foam.

One final thing to check is that you have thoroughly rinsed your glass before pouring, as any residual detergent from dish-washing will kill foam faster than anything else.

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