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Subject: head retention with simple malts
Author: MMMBREW
Aug 15th, 2012
4:45 pm
I recently brewed a saison that turned out great. The mouthfeel, dryness, and flavor really are exactly what I'm going for. The only thing lacking on this beer is that belgian lace and a rocky, foamy head. Many times I'll use flaked wheat to help this, but this time I used malted wheat for some mouthfeel. The head retenion is there, but it's not that true belgian rocky head that I love.

So, I'm just wondering if any of you have any luck with a step mash or other methods that I could improve this factor. Especially using a simple grain bill with pils and some malted wheat. I'd like to be able to do a SMASH and have it look great and have nice head retention.
Subject: Re: head retention with simple malts
Author: DConn
Aug 15th, 2012
5:14 pm
Duvel has about the best foam formation and retention if any beer I know. It's made with nothing but pils malt and sugar, so it can be done. According to BLAM, Duvel uses "a traditional step mash". Pitching rate and fermentation procedures can also have a large impact on beer foam as pointed out here...

http://byo.com/stories/article/indices/35-head-retention/697-getting-good-beer-foam-techniques
Subject: Re: head retention with simple malts
Author: MMMBREW
Aug 15th, 2012
5:19 pm
True, and thanks for the info. I remember Hieronymous actually talking about that subject as well. I'll have to revisit that. That's pretty impressive if you think about the high percentage of simple sugar they have in that beer. That's a good beer to reference.
Subject: Re: head retention with simple malts
Author: MMMBREW
Aug 15th, 2012
7:03 pm
I even had an imperial oatmeal stout with 2.5 lbs of oats in the mash. I must not have converted the beta glucans well because the beer had pretty poor head retention. I'll have to consider using a simple step mash to see if it helps.
Subject: Re: head retention with simple malts
Author: DConn
Aug 15th, 2012
7:08 pm
I've read evidence that oats aren't the cure for head retention that they were first thought to be. Apparently the oils in the oats do more to kill head retention than the oats do to increase it.
Subject: Re: head retention with simple malts
Author: MadBrewer
Aug 15th, 2012
7:09 pm
Too much oats in a recipe can actually hurt head retention...there is a balance to everything. Longer and more vigorus boils usually help out.
Subject: Re: head retention with simple malts
Author: MMMBREW
Aug 15th, 2012
7:26 pm
Yeah, I can see that as far as the oats go. I like flaked wheat better for head retention, but the silkiness of oats works well for a stout of course.

That article is a good one denny- and head retention is yet another reason to have a long, vigorous boil... the more and more I think about it the 20 minute boil in the other post is a pretty poor idea... Although the loads of hops used in 20 minutes could help the head retention too so who knows.
Subject: Re: head retention with simple malts
Author: Hopper5000
Aug 15th, 2012
7:37 pm
If you wanted to use flaked grains to get head retention but cut down on chill haze I have been using an enzyme by white labs called clarity ferm. You basically throw it in after you chill down the wort and throw it into the fermenter. My beers have been turning out pretty clear from using that. It's mad eby white labs and isn't too expensive for a vial.

I personally don't worry too much about head retention but I do like a rich head on my beers. I have had mixed sucess with using wheat and carapils but there could be other variables from brew to brew that I am not considering.
Subject: Re: head retention with simple malts
Author: MMMBREW
Aug 15th, 2012
7:48 pm
sure, that's another good way to do it. I've never tried it. I guess I'm just trying to improve my brewing process in any way I can right now. My beers have been really good lately, but not perfect. I'm trying to keep improving however I can. I'm not even super concerned with my beer's appearences, but I'd like to improve my beer in any way possible.
Subject: Re: head retention with simple malts
Author: mroakley
Aug 15th, 2012
8:28 pm
I recently made a 100% Brett C beer that is 60% pils and 40% wheat malt. It has crazy foam that lasts. My wife was drinking it the other night and I commented at how nice the lace looked. Don't usually have that happen with the beers I brew.
Subject: Re: head retention with simple malts
Author: MMMBREW
Aug 15th, 2012
8:44 pm
Indeed, all of the protein in the wheat certainly helps. (formation and stability) I may increase my malted wheat percentage in my next saison, and try a single step around 130 before my sach. rest. I'm thinking that would help with that rocky head I'm going for.
Subject: Re: head retention with simple malts
Author: mroakley
Aug 15th, 2012
8:54 pm
So my goal with the beer I brewed was to make a berliner weisse. As such, I did a double decoction with temps at 132* (90 min), 147 (60 min) and mashing out at 168 (10 min). I split the 10 gal batch to make 5 gal of (what wound up being) imperial berliner weisse and 5 gal of 100% brett c wheat. Maybe the low temps had some influence?


*132 is supposedly, based on a little bit of research, a temp which produces glucose that the lacto in a berliner weisse likes to munch on. The berliner weisse has zero foam retention (due to the lacto I imagine) but the 100% brett c, with no lacto, lasts a long time and has great lace.
Subject: Re: head retention with simple malts
Author: MMMBREW
Aug 15th, 2012
10:49 pm
Interesting. I've never decocted but I'm planning on doing a boil down for my next scotch ale. It would be interesting for you to experiment with different rests next time and see if changing them can improve that beer's retention.
Subject: Re: head retention with simple malts
Author: mroakley
Aug 15th, 2012
11:05 pm
If you're referring to trying to improve the head retention of the berliner weisse, doesn't seem like changing the rest times will help much. According to the BJCP guidelines, for a berliner weisse:

Large, dense, white head with poor retention due to high acidity and low protein and hop content.

http://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/style17.php

I don't have much experience with these types of beers so I dunno exactly of a way, if any, to improve. The brett beer has awesome head retention though.
Subject: Re: head retention with simple malts
Author: MMMBREW
Aug 16th, 2012
1:20 pm
yeah I can't say I've tried a ton of berliner weisse's, (maybe 5 or less) and that makes sense. I don't get the low protein part, considering berliner weisse should be chalked full of proteins from the wheat, but the lacto and low hop content make sense as far as head retention goes.

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