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What is the Perfect Amount of Head on a Beer?

This may in face be one of those age old questions. Almost like what came first the chicken or the egg? The only difference here is that chickens have been around for a lot longer than beer. Nevertheless the question of what is the perfect amount o head for a beer will have many answers from different people all over the world.

Take a look at this photo and you can straight away see two completely different sizes of head on this beer. Same beer, same glass but one has about 3/4 inch or head and the other about 2 inches. Which one is best?

Well this is a tough question to answer but I think it really comes down to personal preference. Much like the world of wine snobs or should I say wine connoisseur.

You see for wines your could do a blind test to people of all walks of life with some premium wines that are decades old ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars per bottle, compared to clear skin bottles which may only cost a couple of dollars. The results are amazing. I have seen it with my own eyes. How do the wine connoisseurs pick the most expensive quality bottles whereas an non-wine drinker may choose the cheapest bottle as they enjoy the taste better. Simple. Its all about what ever you prefer.

Now back to the beer.

I can understand the rush of fast pubs may sometimes provide more head as the beer froths up as it comes out of the tap. Getting a smaller amount of head takes a certain pouring technique and skill. However sometimes the faster paced bar staff may not have time for this. however this is not the reason why some bars serve beer with lots of head.

It is actually tradition in some cultures, especially European bars. Germany for instance. When they serve their large 1 Litre and halt Litre stein glasses you will often be provided with about 1 /3 head. While this is custom for the person who enjoys the beer they may turn their nose up at this and say "what a waste".

In fact while working bars in the UK I was often requested to provide no head on the beer at all so as the drinker could get more beer to consumer. After all you can't really enjoy the head.

But then our European market may beg to differ. Having been brought up with lots of head in their beer drinking diet, they would become quote accustomed to this. Then any bar serving limited or no head would be an insult.


So what is the answer? Whatever your choose. I advise to try both. Go enjoy a beer from a traditional German bar and notice how the head hits your lips as you consumer the liquid. Then go to a local bar and see how they serve it. If you really have a preference you could always ask the bar staff and they should be able to meet your request. I always though 1 to 2 fingers height is about right. Or the glass on the right in the picture, but that is just me.