Do I Want A Foamy Head On My Beer?

Posted by Bryce Bunkers on

Beer with missing head of foam

Do I want a foamy head on my beer? 

This is probably the question we get asked the most when explaining how Beer Stones work.  In other words, is the head on my beer good, neutral, or bad? 

Most people eventually determine that beer head is a virtue, because it enhances the drinking experience.  

That’s all great, but I really don’t want to fight through all the foam to get to my tasty beer.

We get it. Sometimes that foam isn’t easy to work around.  Some people feel a beer poured with a head is wasting volume that liquid beer should occupy.  And some feel a foamy head is just a bothersome obstacle between them and liquid beer.  Heck, they even make “mustache protectors” now days, if that has you worried.

The Whisker Dam

The Whisker Dam stache protector, source:

Let’s look at the science behind it.  The head on your beer is foam composed of CO2 bubbles (and sometimes N2 bubbles) coated with amino acids.  Most beers are carbonated, because it’s a natural byproduct of fermenting beer.  CO2 and N2 can also be artificially added to beer during conditioning, packaging, or dispensing. 

How does a foamy head improve the beer drinking experience? 

As carbonation releases and rises in a stream of bubbles, it carries with it beer’s volatile compounds.  If your beer is releasing enough CO2 to retain a head, it’s releasing those volatile compounds to boost the aroma. 

The pressurized CO2 in beer actually forms some carbonic acid as well.  As carbonation releases to form a foamy head, this carbonic acid decreases.  It allows the beer’s flavor to come through more purely.  It also reduces the prickly mouthfeel on your tongue, resulting in a smoother texture. 

Any carbonation used to form a foamy head reduces the amount of gas ingested, making your beer less filling. 

Beer head more aroma, smoother flavor, less filling infographic

In the end, the choice to have foamy head on your beer is up to you.  You’re a grown-up after all.  The main takeaway here is that your beer head does serve a purpose.  Whether or not you want to take advantage of that purpose, and its benefits, is up to you.

Next time you’re served a frothy beer, give it a chance. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Beer Carbonation

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