A nice head on a beer

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Condorito, Oct 13, 2020.

  1. Condorito

    Condorito Initiate (31) Oct 13, 2020 California

    I do not like beers without a head, but some wait staff doesn't have a clue. I tell them I want a beer with a head on it and they think it means go a"head" and bring me a completely flat beer. The head is where you can tell the real flavor.
  2. jonphisher

    jonphisher Disciple (347) Aug 9, 2015 New Jersey

    I think the only way around this is to go to a bar that knows how to serve beer. Your average bartender has no idea.

    I remember a friend ordering Sam Adams winter lager at a restaurant once. The server said “we’re out but we have Sierra Nevada celebration, it’s basically the same thing.” My head exploded but I didn’t say a word. Point, most places have no idea.
  3. officerbill

    officerbill Zealot (572) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    Aroma is just as important as taste.
    The head captures those aromas and releases them almost directly into your your nose. I've had many beers where the flavor changed after the head died.
  4. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,093) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    OR, they are tired of other customers (including many supposedly "educated" craft geeks, see: "Pour, Boss") complaining about being ripped off because of too much collar...
    • Water
    • Malted Barley
    • Hops
    • Yeast
    • Spices
    Well, 4 out of 5 of the same ingredients, so "basically" the same...compared to soda pop, wine or the bar peanuts, I guess.:grin:
    #4 jesskidden, Oct 13, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2020
  5. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,833) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    Welcome to the BA site, Condorito. You've found a great place to talk about everything beer (and a few other things). Explore the site as much as you can.

    I don't know why the bar wouldn't honor your request for a beer with a head on it. Certainly they know what that means even if the staff is a bit dippy. But I think many bartenders think they're giving you your money's worth by filling to the rim, thus avoiding what @jesskidden said about avoiding complaints. (And hoping for a better tip.)

    If a beer is set in front of you and it's short because the foam has already disappeared, do you complain? Too often a beer won't support a lingering head, so that's the other thing you have to consider. You can ask for a fork and moderately stir the upper half of the beer and get some foam to return, but you'd have to drink it quickly to get the enjoyment you want.
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  6. AWA

    AWA Disciple (326) Jul 22, 2014 California

    As was already stated, I think going to the right bar is the only way to make this happen. Way back in the day when I was allowed out, I went to the same place 2-3 times per week at the same time. That bartender gave me a perfect 1.5" head every time,just as I like. But he knows me. He knows what I like. And most important of all, he knows what he is doing. And Condorito is an amazing name, btw. Assuming you pulled it from the Chilean comic.
  7. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,555) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    You don’t like Stouts?
  8. RaulMondesi

    RaulMondesi Poo-Bah (3,243) Dec 11, 2006 California
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    My girlfriend is French and lived in the Czech Republic for ten years. The first time I poured her a beer, she told me to make sure that there was head on it. That’s when I fell in love.
  9. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,980) Mar 12, 2009 New York
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    Welcome to BA, OP!

    A nice head shows the beer was poured in a way that the aroma is released. Having that aroma come into your nose as the flavors come onto your palate in your mouth is how the experience is enjoyed best IMO
  10. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (1,776) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
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    I find this to be the exception and not the rule. Very few stouts are packaged still.
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  11. Singlefinpin

    Singlefinpin Crusader (793) Jul 17, 2018 North Carolina

    When I judge Appearance on a beer the head is very important.
    All too often beer doesn't seem to be carbonated enough to hold a steady head.
    Occasionally, very occasionally a beer will hold it's head the whole way through. What a beautiful thing that is!
    Let's see if I remember the quote correctly, "The head is the brewers gift." Bamburg? I think?
  12. bret27

    bret27 Meyvn (1,209) Mar 10, 2009 California

    It seems like usually “ the customer is always right” should be the rule, but you never know. There is a variation among beers too. 99% of the beer I drink is at home out of cans/bottles and there’s a wide variety of head regardless of how I pour it.
    .....But more about Raul’s girlfriend
  13. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (7,359) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society Trader

    No head doesn't exactly mean that the beer is flat.

    I lived in Australia for a few years and the bartenders that I dealt with poured beers to minimize the head which resulted in getting the most for my money and none of them were flat.
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  14. billandsuz

    billandsuz Devotee (451) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    The foam on the beer is not really related to the carbonation level. Completely flat beer will not pour with any head, but if the beer has any CO2 at all a decent collar can be achieved.

    Foam is mostly related to temperature and velocity.
    Warm beer foams more than cold beer. And if the beer is really cold, less than around 34, it is very difficult to get a good foam collar.

    The velocity of the pour, that is how vigorous the beer hits the glass, causes the beer to foam.

    A dirty glass inhibits head formation. Oil and grease kill foam. Quickly.

    Poorly made beer wont have very good foam retention. Protein holds hold. So a go0d hefe foams like crazy, but poorly crafted adjunct heavy beers do not.

  15. Peach63

    Peach63 Zealot (561) Jul 17, 2019 New York
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    When I want a beer with a thick, long lasting head, I brew my own!

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  16. officerbill

    officerbill Zealot (572) Feb 9, 2019 New York
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    It would be easier if everyone adopted the German method of marking the volume on beer glasses. That way you're assured of getting the amount of beer you're paying for with room left over for a nice head.
    #16 officerbill, Oct 14, 2020
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2020
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  17. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,695) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    A poured beer should have a head so sayeth the Pope of Foam:

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  18. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,555) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    Stouts. Little to no head, certainly not flat beers.
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  19. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Initiate (99) Aug 24, 2020 California

    A co-worker/fellow beer geek was transferred to the UK for about 18 months. He told me the pub staff told him that a properly poured Murphy's stout has a head creamy enough to allow the drinker to use his finger to write their initial in the head and it will still be readable when the glass is drained. mmmmmm....creamy head
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  20. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,087) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Aroma and taste are integrally related. Vision added to the mix makes beer and wine appreciation really fun. It's very complicated but easy to do. It's just a blessing in a myriad number of ways.
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  21. Beer_Stan

    Beer_Stan Initiate (166) Mar 15, 2014 California

    Nah, The customer should definitely be considered, but they are definitely not always right. I feel that way even when I'm the customer, I don't like not having my thoughts or feelings not considered as a patron, but I'm happy if the staff knows I'm making a poor choice or am incorrect about something and they want to tell me about it because I am definitely not always right.
  22. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,555) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    Or lambics, sours, gose, Berliner’s. I’m just being a dick here, but I agree. I love a dense foamy head that spews aromatic goodness. I’d prefer a nice head on a stout, but it’s just not the nature of the beast.
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  23. billandsuz

    billandsuz Devotee (451) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    You know, we could be going the other way here too.

    A stupid foamy mess of a half filled pint glass pisses me off. Pour the damn beer correctly, and give me what I paid for. It's bad enough you don't post prices or glass size, and now i am getting stiffed with an under pour too? Bull shit man. Just bull shit.
    Underpoured beers are a much bigger problem than not enough foam. In my experience.

    But I am a draft guy, and notice these things. Crappy draft systems and lazy bartenders really grind my gears! You are not being a dick if you ask for what you are paying for, quite the opposite in fact.
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  24. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,695) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

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  25. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,567) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    This is an underappreciated aspect of a good bar/brewery. Listen to me, understand what I'm requesting, and then please offer some.guidance (assuming the staff is well trained and knowledgeable). If you wanna be a AAA beer bar/store in my book, you should be able to guide me to things I would normally overlook
  26. HorseheadsHophead

    HorseheadsHophead Poo-Bah (2,221) Sep 15, 2014 New York

    I was pretty pleased with the head I generated on this Kronenbourg 1664 a few days ago.

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  27. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,221) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    Huh? You're drinking the wrong stouts then. :slight_smile:
  28. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,555) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    Beers like BC and a good many of the BBA stouts are so minimal in head you need glasses to see them.
  29. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,221) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    That's more likely a product of barrel aging and very high alcohol (and even possibly any added flavoring ingredients) than anything else. You were just saying it's the nature of stouts, but there's more to stouts than the bourbon barrel aged variety. There are oodles of stouts that will pour with a head. :slight_smile:
  30. dlcarst

    dlcarst Initiate (108) Aug 21, 2015 Illinois

    Way too many beers have little head or head that disappears quickly. I find this to be most frequently the case with pastry stouts and hazy IPAs (especially with lactose). Is it the added ingredients that cause a lack of head or that the brewery is often just trying to make $$$ on hyped styles with less attention to overall quality?
  31. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,555) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    Lol, your absolutely right, I was thinking mainly about the stouts I drink.
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  32. readyski

    readyski Aspirant (278) Jun 4, 2005 California

    I feel that any discussion about head must include Orval - what a wonderful, lasting, evolving, aromatic and irregular head that is!
  33. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,555) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    I get suspicious of dirty lines or dirty glasses or old stock when I see an AAL on tap and it’s flat looking with minimal head. If anything most if they’re fresh tend to be over carbonated a bit, of course it didn’t mean the beer is flat, just makes me take a second look. Yuengling is everywhere here, that particular beer at one bar typically has no head at all a few minutes after being poured, could be their system too.
    ChicagoJ likes this.
  34. ChicagoJ

    ChicagoJ Meyvn (1,227) Feb 2, 2015 Illinois

    Yes, at home I pour to maximize head, but out I am fine with little to no head to maximize beer, as most places pour into a shaker pint glass. A few places here have proper glassware to accommodate a full draft pour, and leave room for a proper head.