Just opened a bottle conditioned "Belgian Black"-- delicious and well carbed.
However, there is little no head on the pour and the lacing is pretty weak, too.

How do I ensure good head retention?

  • 1
    This would be a good case to post the recipe and process as part of your question too.
    – brewchez
    Nov 13, 2010 at 13:22

1 Answer 1


The first place I always start with head retention is glassware. If your cleaned you glass with any type of detergent, especially in a dish washer; a head-negative residue can be left behind on the glass. To really rule this out I'd soak the glass in some warm/hot PBW (or other non-detergent cleaner). Then rinse really well with warm water. Finish with a quick rinse in cool water to chill the glass down some, then pour right away into the wet glass.

Seeing how you came from a bottle too, I'd also mention that you should be careful to use non-detergent cleaners on your bottles too.

Your water chemistry can have an impact, but slight. The next steps I'd take are dependent upon whether you are brewing extract or all grain. Are there any extra head-positive malts in your recipe. The amount of hop oils can reduce head. Lastly, perfect yeast health promotes head by limiting the amount of dead yeast that was added at pitching. Dead yeast give off lipids with will break down head.

There was an entire episode devoted to head retention on BrewStrong at the Brewing Network.

  • Lots of hop oils will ADD to your lacing though. My IPAs always have fantastic lacing. +1 on the glassware suggestion.
    – GHP
    Mar 29, 2011 at 17:57

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