Figuring Out Beer Foam
Recently, I’ve been told that my beer does not have enough foam. I’ve also been told that my beer has too much foam. In both cases, the arguments were linked to products that could either add to a beer’s head, or reduce it greatly.
I first learned of my potential foam problem last autumn at a trade show in Las Vegas when I was introduced to the Sonic Foamer—a plastic device that is shaped like and resembles one of those doohickeys you get at restaurants while you’re waiting for a table.
You know, the kind that lights up and buzzes when the host is ready to seat you.
The Sonic Foamer has a circle-shaped impression on the top that you are supposed to fill with water and set your beer upon. When the beer you’re drinking loses its attractive head you simply push a button and “a finely calibrated, ultrasonic vibration which invisibly passes through the water and into the beer,” is released, according to the company. “The vibration activates the gases to create consistent sized bubbles for the perfect foam head.”
It’s a fine device and occasionally fun to push a button and watch carbonation rocket upwards. The only downside—aside from the occasional battery change—is the water droplets that fall from the bottom of the glass onto your shirt as you drink.
But, why should we care about foam? Do we really need a device that foams up our beers? I asked Grant McCracken, a brewer with the Boston Beer Co., makers of Samuel Adams, to weigh in.
“Primarily, foam delivers and releases the aromatic compounds of the hops, malt and yeast from the beer into the drinkers olfactory glands, inside the nose,” he said. “Each bubble of foam is in essence an aroma balloon, which pops and releases the wonderful aromas in beer over time.”
A good head atop a beer can also be important in the flavor and texture of the beer, he said. “It’s also alluring from a visual perspective.”
That’s exactly what the makers of another foam enhancing device want you to think of when it comes to their product, the Menu Beer Foamer.
It resembles a milk frother without the heating element, and just asks the user to pour up to ½ inch of beer into the device, let the whisk do its thing for a minute or so, and then pour the dense foam atop the rest of your already poured beer. A video of the product in action may be found here.