See that foam crowning the beer in your pint glass? That’s beer head! But what causes beer head? Well, that all depends on your beer. Sometimes beer head happens naturally—and sometimes by mistake.
Reason 1: The Gas Factor
If your beer is flat, you’re not going to see a frothy beer head.
That’s because beer head comes from carbon dioxide dissolved in the liquid. Once you pop the bottle open, the pressure is relieved and the carbon dioxide is released from the brew in the form of bubbles.
Carbonated beers produce beer heads with large bubbles. Nitrogenated beers produce beer heads with small bubbles, creating a creamy appearance.
Reason 2: Beer Ingredients
Drinking a wheat beer? You’ll notice a distinct beer head. That’s due to the wheat, barley, or another malted grain within your brew. The proteins, polypeptides, and polyphenols found in malted grain and hops naturally create a beer head. The more proteins in the malted grain and the more hops added to the brew, the better the head retention.
So why isn’t there wine head or soda head? Because these drinks don’t have these two ingredients!
Big commercial brewing companies commonly add chemicals to their beer to enhance head retention. Not craft brewers! Breweries along the Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail choose their ingredients carefully so that head retention is natural and chemical-free.
Reason 3: Poor Pouring
Not all beer heads are created equal. A beer head that’s larger than normal happens when beer is agitated during the pouring process. In other words, pouring beer straight down into the middle of the glass. Reduce the head by tilting the glass then straightening out as the beer nears the rim of the beer glass.