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Four Tips for Getting the Best Beer Foam

The Newscripts gang is always on the lookout for ways to make happy hour even happier. Monica Villa, beer lover and aspiring science writer, shares the following tips on how to get the best bubbles in your brew.

Credit: Shutterstock

Credit: Shutterstock

Beer drinkers know that quality beer foam means a better beer. So what exactly is this luscious lather? Beer foam is composed mainly of the same glycoproteins and organic acids found in beer, but at higher concentrations. Brewing and aging denature the glycoproteins (which come from yeast cell walls and barley), exposing their hydrophobic regions to carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, their hydrophilic side groups hydrogen-bond with water. This segregation of gas and liquid forms the basic structure of foam.

To create the best beer foam in your glass, follow these steps:

  1. Wash your beer glasses by hand; dishwashers leave detergent residues that interfere with bubble formation. The lacing of foam on the sides of a glass is actually an indication of cleanliness. Scratches at the bottom of a drinking glass can serve as nucleation sites for bubbles, so don’t sweat the imperfections in your barware.
  2. Serve your beer at the right temperature. Ideal beer temperatures vary by type, and the truth is that not all beers create a lot of foam. Darker beers and those with higher alcohol content tend to form less foam, while lighter-colored, hoppy beers form high-quality foam. These light-colored beer types should be served at 39–45 °F. Higher temperatures force CO2 gas out of solution, so aim for the higher end of the temperature range to increase foam volume.
  3. Choose the right glass for the beer you’re drinking. BeerAdvocate magazine has compiled a helpful list of the appropriate glasses for each class of beer, highlighting traits that contribute to quality beer foam. Among these qualities are ample space for high foam volume (tulip glasses), slenderness for the fluffy foam of wheat beers (weizen glasses), and room to showcase rising gas beads (pilsner glasses).
  4. Pour vigorously. A strong pour decreases beer surface tension, aiding in bubble formation. Start at a 45° angle, then straighten the glass to 90° midway through (as demonstrated in this video).

Bonus tip: Change your look for improved foam quality: Mustaches and lipstick carry lipids that disrupt bubbles.

Charlie Bamforth shared these tips in a recent ACS Webinar titled “Getting a Head through Chemistry: Great Beer and a Frothy Foam.” He is a professor of malting and brewing sciences at the University of California, Davis, and author of “Foam,” which he plans to be the first of a six-volume series on beer.

5 Comments

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  • Apr 3rd 201313:04
    by Kathy Cunningham

    Great article Monica…..looking forward to using some of the tips the next time I have a beer!

  • Apr 3rd 201323:04
    by DJ

    Informative & fun!
    My relationship with beer foam will never be the same. Love the bonus tip!

  • Apr 4th 201317:04
    by Scott

    For a thick, long-lasting head on your beer, your best bet is to pour right down the middle of the glass. You’ll get a lot of foam, but be patient and wait for it to subside before pouring the rest of the beer. You may have to repeat this a couple of times, but you’ll be rewarded with a pillow of dense foam that carries all the aromas you’re looking for in a craft beer.

  • Sep 18th 201300:09
    by Foaming Agent Manufacturer

    Foaming Agent Manufacturer offers the possibility of increasing the size of a part without increasing weight and reducing the weight of a part with controlled change of properties. Other valuable advantages for foaming are cycle time reduction, improved dimensional uniformity, and increase cavitation in a mold.

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