Do you always ask yourself why does beer foam? But other drinks like cider and soda doesn’t? Behind this mysterious foamy curtain, there is actually a lot to discover!
When you pour a soda into a glass, you’ll notice a slight foam, but those small bubbles will rapidly narrow down. On the contrary, beer creates a foamy head that remains for quite some time after pouring it into the glass.
Most beer lovers find it hard to ignore this since both drinks are carbonated, and that’s why we found it essential to discuss the concern here. There is a lot more going on with that foam, and we would love to inform you all about it. Are you curious? Let’s get started!
What is foam, and how does it take place?
You can simply put a foam as a two-phase system that allows gas to dispense into a small amount of liquid through a continuous process. If you didn’t know, the life span of beer foam starts with bubble formation, then creaming, disproportion follows, and lastly drainage.
After pouring your beer into a glass; the first thing you see is bubble formation, right? What happens when the gas becomes insoluble and hydrophobic in the beer? Since the beer contains some proteins, which are the vital foaming agents, they produce a hydrophobic end that attracts the gas to form a bubble.
The second thing that takes place in your beer is creaming as it turns foamy at the glass head. At this phase, you won’t see things split in seconds. The bubbles here will continue replenishing as the bubbles rise further, and you’ll slowly see the foam collapse. As we have mentioned, beer contains some proteins, and the surface-active proteins hold the foam structure together.
In the disproportion phase, gas bubbles in your beer change from small to large by joining together. At this point, the foam is almost turning into a liquid through gravity. So, with no time the foam formed at the top of your beer disappears completely.
What are the factors that cause more/less foam in a beer?
Sometimes, the foam of your beer might be different, probably much more compared to your friend’s beer. Curious to know why? Here are a few common and interesting elements that could be the cause:
This affects how you perceive the beer’s taste and its overall attractiveness. Remember when we talked about disproportionation earlier on? While the process takes places when larger bubbles absorb smaller ones to create a spotty effect, it happens during higher temperatures.
As a result, there are more foams in kegs and poorer foam in glasses. Notwithstanding what has just been said, you can consider checking temperature tips for serving a beer.
2. Alcohol content
The more the alcohol content in your beer, the more the amount of foam. The reason behind that narrative is that beer contains alcohol (ethanol), an excellent foam deterrent. So, if your beer is 1% ABV higher than your pal’s beer, then it will create a more significant amount of foam.
Beer drinkers should highly appreciate nitrogen because it is the key contributor to a rich, creamy head. It gives you a fantastic mouthfeel while having a delightfully drinkable enticing experience.
As we mentioned above that disproportionation links with temperature, in some way, it also affects the solubility of gas via liquid. Since nitrogen gas is a bit insoluble, it produces plenty of small bubbles, creating a super creamy, stable fizz.
4. Carved glassware
A glassware that is carved at the bottom creates another nucleation site. Therefore, bubbles tend to stick to the carving and amass until they are buoyant enough to become free and move to the top layer of your beer, replenishing the foam.
5. Cleaning agents
If the glassware is not rinsed thoroughly, your glassware might be left with invisible detergent or any other cleaning agents, hence decreasing the formation of foam. Always pour your beer into a sparkling clean glass to get the ideal head at the topmost layer. To wash a standard beer glass, use warm, sudsy water, rinse with clean water, and place on the rack upside down for it to dry.
A lipstick contains certain compounds and waxes that can hinder protein interactions, or even stab the bubbles’ protective protein skin, clearing off the beer foam. So, ladies that could be the reason your beer does not sustain a fizzy head.
7. Fatty or greasy foods
just like with the lipstick, if you eat fatty foods while taking a beer, your oily lips can damage the stability of your foam and its overall longevity.
The effects of foam on a beer flavor
The layer of foam formed at the top of your beer makes it taste different due to the presence of surface-active compounds. Besides, a foam carries a massive trigeminal sensation, which means that you can only physically perceive the “taste” effects.
Let’s say the “hot” sensation of chili peppers or that “cool” sensation of mint you feel when taking your drink. How do you perceive the whole experience? Basically, it causes a physical sensitivity rather than an actual thermal load. Isn’t that true? That fluffy and creamy foam can dramatically change the sensation of your beer by moderating the overall taste.
Not forgetting, we have intimately interwoven senses of smell and taste, making us confuse specific beer characteristics. For instance, you might detect a specific character in your nasal passage, but describe it as “taste” and that’s how complicated it can turn out to be.
All in all, what we are trying to say is that foam opens up a wide range of flavors because it comes with more odor compounds that are new to your sense of smell.
Why embrace a foamy beer?
If you’re wondering whether a foamy beer is bad or good, it is high time you start embracing its presence. The beer foam is a great sign that better things are yet to unfold. So, if we were to tell you, don’t avoid that foamy head. Instead, seek it out!
Are you wondering why? We’ll back that up, but first, let’s start with the basics. How do you pour your beer? Let me guess; you pour the beer holding your glass at a diagonal angle and let your drink splash down the side of the drinking cup, right? You’re not alone. For many years many of us have been doing the same thing to prevent a massive foam buildup.
Today, we are here to tell you that foam is actually something you should start appreciating about beers, especially if you go for some quality craft beer. You know what? Those bubbles that form the foam are your enjoyment, as it is where the sweet aroma stored.
The secret behind these bubbles is to release a delicious scent as each one of them pop. They carry everything in them, including peppers, cookies and pineapple. So why would you want to deprive yourself this flavorsome drinking experience?
While we understand that most of us like the glassful texture of beer that is not foamy, I think we need to change that habit. Just like any other beer lifestyle, we need to start embracing a foamy beer in moderation. But how can you get the perfect amount of creamy, enjoyable beer foam?
It’s pretty easy! You need to pour it patiently, pause for a few seconds, and wait for a certain amount of bubbles to calm down before you tip in more beer. By the time you are done pouring your beer, there should be ahead at the top.
However, if the head barely forms, don’t give up just yet! Practice makes perfect. So, simply drink up that beer and try again and you’ll thank us later. You can also decide to expand your awareness on how to pour a beer.
For every style, there is a different head preferred. For instance, you should target a thick bone-white foam with styles like Hefeweizens, Pilsners, or Belgian Wits. If you want to achieve much more foam and aroma as needed, nitrogen-carbed beers will require you to “pour hard.”
With all that said, we can all agree that beer foam is quite essential, and we should aim to make a perfect pint. Most people pour their beer while avoiding foam instead of embracing the delicious drinking experience it offers. But we can’t blame them because they’re probably not aware that a foamy beer is everything.
That creamy thick head unfolds a wide range of flavors, so, we would advise you to learn how to pour beer the right way to get the best results. However, it would be best to keep in mind factors like fatty foods, lipstick and stained glassware because they can quickly kill the foam.
Do you agree with us that foam is actually good and should always embrace it for its fragrant offerings? Please don’t forget to ask or leave a comment below!