Especially if I am extra brewing, and making a lower gravity beer, the ingredients (cara, crystal) that add mouthfeel and head retention also add too much sweetness. Thinking of a low gravity Belgium style (Blonde, Patersbier, etc), but this could be a problem for other styles too.
Have you tried flaked oats?– RobertJan 31, 2017 at 20:14
This is not a problem at all, you will find most crystal malts are actually foam negative. With simple pale malts you should be able to get good head retention.
For further information on the subject don't listen to me listen to the pope of foam himself Dr. Charles Bamforth. Head retention with the pope of foam.
Duvel is nothing but pils malt and sugar and has foam that most brewers would kill for. A lot of it is related to fermentation processes....http://byo.com/stories/article/indices/35-head-retention/697-getting-good-beer-foam-techniques
You could probably sub in a bit of some sort of sugar for malt extract and still get beer dry enough for your taste while using steeping grain. Additionally, using wheat malt extract could up your head retention w/o resulting in a sweeter beer.
There's a variety of heading agents available at homebrew supplies if you get really desperate.