BEER-tinkering experts in America claim to have created the perfect head on a pint.
Professors at the American Institute of Physics have enhanced a super-fast dispensing system that can pour a pint in just over one second by firing the liquid through a cap placed in the bottom of a glass.
11Want to know how to pour the perfect head for every type of beer?Credit: Getty11These beer bros tell you how to pour a perfect headCredit: Olivia WestBy playing around with the beer pressure, the US experts discovered a way of reducing the amount of excess froth.
And the ground-breaking technique, they claim, will fashion a flawless, foamy head that not only enhances the beer’s look and taste, but also reduces wastage — helping beleaguered pub landlords to save money as well as time.
There are very few things that get pub-going purists into more of a lather than the head on their beer.
Some reckon they are being short-changed when served a beer with a weighty white top.
But as long as the line of the liquid beer does not drop below the legal white line visible on the glass, then there is certainly no reason to moan about the measure.
So how do you like your brew?
Here’s our guide to getting the top tip top.
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Just a heads up
DIFFERENT beers have different heads.
Across the Channel in Belgium and Germany, bartenders and landlords simply would not dream of dispensing a beer without a dense creamy head – often swiping the foam off with a wet wand before serving.
11German bartenders wouldn’t dream of dispensing a beer without a thick creamy headCredit: GettyIn Germany, you’ll probably get a head of about 5cm while in Belgium the thicker the foam the better.
And in the Czech Republic, they love the head so much they created the Milko – which is pretty much an entire glass of foam.
It requires a special pouring technique to get the beer to look like a tall glass of milk.
Guinness is another head that provokes plenty of debate – with the two-part pour developed to ensure the perfect top of 18-20mm.
IN the UK, the size of a head on a pint of a lightly carbonated traditional cask ale is a topic that has long divided North and South.
Up North, drinkers of real ale insist on their beer being served with a compact, feathery top.
11Down South pints of bitter have traditionally been served flatter than a pancakeCredit: AlamyTraditionally, this frothier foam is created by attaching a sparkler to the spout of a cask beer tap.
The sparkler creates a bigger head by aggressively spraying the beer into the glass.
Down South, meanwhile, hand-pulled pints have traditionally been served barely brimming with any bubbles at all and, for years, pints of bitter were served flatter than a pancake.
But whether it sits on a pint of lager or ale, and regardless of the style of beer or regional preferences, experts insist that head on a beer is a really good thing – with the general rule of thumb being two fingers (around 2cm) of foam.
What’s the point?
A CHUNKY-sized head keeps the carbon dioxide in the beer and, more importantly, it keeps the oxygen out.
Oxygen is an enemy of beer and if the beer is exposed to too much of it, the oxygen dulls the beer’s taste and aroma.
As well as preserving the beer and giving it both bitterness and aroma, it is the hops in beer that have historically helped create and retain the beer’s head – while combining with “hydrophobic peptides” from the grain.
Getting a head
GIVEN that a decent head improves both the taste and look of a beer, it is no surprise that brewers invest heavily in techniques that help head retention such as adding nitrogen gas and using harmless additives that make them more stable.
They also chill the beer as the lower the temperature, the firmer the foam.
11Brewers invest heavily in techniques that help head retentionCredit: GettyBrewers even manipulate beer taps and glassware – deliberately encouraging the creation of small bubbles by scratching and etching the bottom of their branded drinking glasses.
These small bubbles take aromatic flavour molecules to the surface where, in less than 0.1 per cent of a second, they burst and spray aromas towards the flavour receptors in the drinker’s nose.
One way to blow the froth off your pint is to drink it while wearing lipstick (for the ladies) or enjoying it with a greasy pub burger – because the fat in both will flatten the foam.
Heads you win
BIG HEADS (2.5cm)
11German beers are famous for their big headsCredit: GettyGerman wheat beer (weissbeer)
Czech pilsners and lagers such as Pilsner Urquell
Belgian golden ales such as duvel
MEDIUM HEADS (1-2cm)
11A pint of Guinness has more of a medium-sized headCredit: GettyClassic European lagers
Belgian Trappist beers
India pale ales
Bottle-conditioned British ales
Cask-conditioned real ale
Irish Stouts such as Guinness (pressurised in the keg with nitrogen)
SMALL HEADS (up to 1cm)
11Check out these beers with a super small headCredit: AlamyBarley wine
A head for history
HOPS were first introduced to the UK back in the 14th Century by neighbouring Europeans.
Initially, the flowers – which come from the same botanical family as cannabis – were treated with suspicion by British brewers who, up until that point, had used other ingredients in their beer.
11Henry VIII’s ale might have been headless like two of his wivesCredit: Alamy11Hops come from the same botanical family as cannabisCredit: Getty11And they were treated with suspicion when first introduced to BritainCredit: GettySo much so that Henry VIII instructed his brewers not to use them in the Royal household – which meant his ale would have been headless, much like two of his wives.
In modern brewing, however, hops are essential and their flavour can be discovered within the foam.
As you sip through the suds, you should be able to detect some hop bitterness before you hit the sweeter, malty beer below.
With a small or non-existent head, the beer lacks flavour balance.
If the head is too big, it means too much bitterness – and what’s more, foam also gives beer a smoother, thicker and fuller texture.
As well as enhancing flavour, a handsome head also makes beer appear more appealing – and is the main trait that separates beer from other sparkling drinks.
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk