Is there a particular way to manipulate a grain bill to change the color of the head of a beer? Ie if you want an off-white head in an RIS as opposed to a brown head?


2 Answers 2


I think you want red food coloring. This will definitely give you a pink head and won't be noticable in the dark stout beer itself.

I do this every year with green coloring on St. Patricks day and it works great!

A few drops per 12oz beer should be good.


I don't understand the chemistry behind it, but its pretty straight forward. Roasted barley is unmalted, where chocolate or black patent has been malted. When using roasted barley the head on a stout stays tanish in color. When you rely on the malted versions of dark roasted grains they contribute darker colors to the head. Think the difference between classic dry stout (all roasted barley) and a classic English Porter (primarily black patent and chocolate malts). The dry stout has the off white head, where the porter carries that browner chocolately head.

  • 1
    I ask the question for kind of a weird reason. I am brewing a Valentines Day sweet stout and am planning on doing a secondary with raspberries. I thought it would be really cool to have a black beer with a pink head. Was thinking if I kept the head neutral enough, there would be a tinge of pink/red fromt he raspberries. In any event, brewing this weekend, and using roasted barley instead of carafa/BP/choc, even though the latter are recommended for sweet stouts. Going to add the RB @ mashout so its not too acrid.
    – Pietro
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 16:50
  • @Pietro: Cool idea, let us know if this works! Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 16:43
  • Nice idea. For me I have made a few strawberry beers and raspberry beers. It takes ALOT of fruit to get some of the color to come through. Maybe sitting on top of a dark beer like a stout it would stand out more.
    – brewchez
    Commented Jan 16, 2013 at 0:48

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