Project Mr Matey
Head retention on a beer, or as we like to call it 'Project Mr Matey' is something we take really, really seriously. There's nowt worse than a flat looking, lifeless pint, especially when it comes to lager, that foamy head and high carbonation are essential to its style and pure enjoyment.
But how is it achieved to guarantee you a great pint? Well, it's no simple undertaking and runs all the way from recipe creation right the way through to the pint being poured.
Here's the thoughts of our head brewer Si on what can effect and help head retention in a beer, but this is in no way exhaustive:
- Grain bill – use of high protein malts and grains (e.g. Chit Malt in our Crowded Pilsner) - Protein helps creature the foam structure.
- Grain bill - avoid low protein adjuncts such as dextrose, corn sugar and rice
- Water chemistry
- Boil intensity must be vigorous
- Correct dosage of copper finings during the boil to remove trub and fatty lipids (head killers)
- Hops added during the boil help promote head retention (hops in general are good for foam)
- Tetra Hop – a small addition of tetra hop (a hop extract) post fermentation boosts head retention due to it’s hydrophobic properties
- Good fermentation and maturation profile – this reduces yeast stress during fermentation. Once fermentation is complete separating the yeast from the beer is needed to stop yeast autolysis, which also affects foam.
- Correct yeast pitching rate, stressed yeast = poor foam
- Carbonate correctly – spunding is ideal as it uses the natural CO2 produced during fermentation (which reduces the need for processed CO2 which in turn reduces our carbon footprint) and arguably gives a better carbonated mouthfeel
- Avoid foaming the beer throughout the process of brewing, fermenting, transferring, maturing and packaging. Save the foam for when it’s served.
- CO2 quality - low grade/'dirty' CO2 can affect its appearance
- CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN – everything!
- Avoid residual cleaning chemicals in tanks and pipework as it kills foam
- Clean beer lines and taps regularly and thoroughly
- Clean glassware - no residual soap from the glass washer + use a freshwater glass spritz before pouring
- Choose the right glass – tall thin, nucleated glasses are perfect for foam
- Poured with the correct technique
As you can see, it is no simple matter to ensure a great, foamy, lovely looking pint that involves great raw ingredients from suppliers, skill and knowledge during brewing and packaging and then excellent venues and staff with very high standards.
But when it all comes together, there's nothing better.