Ask Mr. Wizard

Is yeast presence a major head retention inhibitor?

TroubleShooting

Chris Adams • Miami, Florida asks,
Q

I’ve been trying to improve the head retention of my batches and have not had much luck. I recently brewed a dry stout with wheat malt and flaked oats, and I also increased the corn sugar amount for priming with visions of a thick, creamy, long-lasting head. But alas, it was not to be. When I pour the beer into my Murphy’s Irish Stout pint glass, I initially get a nice head, but this disappears within 30 seconds. After a minute or so, the beer actually appears completely flat. Is yeast presence a major head retention inhibitor? Also, I read Chris Colby’s piece “Balanced Recipe Formulation” (March-April 2007) where he states that adding wheat to a recipe in an effort to improve head retention should not be substituted for sound brewing practices. What exactly are those brewing practices and what are the things that would increase or decrease head retention?

A
Good foam is something that many brewers like on their brews for aesthetic and mouthfeel reasons. Foam looks appetizing on top of a pint of brew and also adds texture to the
Response by Ashton Lewis.