From the HBD Archive
Subject: Read retention
Date: 1992-06-01 17:13:00 GMT

Frank asks about head retention.

The primary source of good head retention is protein. Dextrins also
contribute, but to a lesser extent. Try adding a little wheat malt or
flaked barley or steel-cut oats to your mash to increase your protein
content and enjoy the pleasure of getting longer-lasting head. For
extract brews, you can steep 4 ounces of flaked barley in your boil
water at 170F water for 15 minutes before removing the grain and bringing
the water to a boil. This will give you a very cloudy beer, so I only
do this for my extract stouts and porters in which the color hides the

Another problem may be too much finings. Are you using Irish Moss or another
fining agent? My head retention severely decreased when I began using 1/2
tsp of Irish Moss in the boil. I stopped using it, chilled quickly with
a wort chiller to coagulate the big proteins but still probably increased the
protein content of my beers as compared to those with Irish Moss used.
My head retention improved as compared to the beers made with Irish Moss.

Chill haze can be reduced by either fining-out the proteins or by fining-out
the tannins. I don't recall which finings work on which molecules, but I'm
sure that Irish Moss fines-out proteins and Polyclar fines-out tannins.
By fining-out the tannins and leaving the proteins, you could eliminate
chill haze while preserving head retention. Could someone post which
finings work on which molecules? -- I know it's an electrical attraction of
some sort, but I cannot find my notes on it.


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