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Head Games: 3 products for controlling your beer’s foam

That layer of bubbles atop your beer is important, so we tested some devices built to improve it.
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Despite the complaints of bar-goers grumbling over glasses not filled to the brim, a beer’s head—the blanket of froth that sits atop a correctly poured pint—is actually essential to beer enjoyment. A well-formed head delivers aromas that may not be apparent in the flavor, and can actually improve the texture of the liquid. Recognizing this, more and more companies are building and selling devices made to form and improve head. We tested three of these tools and asked their designers which situations they’re best suited for.

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THE FIZZICS DRAFT BEER SYSTEM

What is it?
Essentially, it’s a device that allows you to pour a packaged beer as you would from draft. “We began developing the system after a night at the bar, when I asked my business partner a question: ‘Why does beer taste so good fresh from the tap? Why isn’t it the same from the can or bottle at home?’” says Philip Petracca, who developed the product with Roger An and David McDonald.

How does it work?
The operation is simple: You place an open bottle, can or growler inside the device, stick its internal hose inside the beer, seal the canister, then use the spout to pour, pulling it forward for straight beer dispense and pushing it back to top off the glass with foam. But the device is actually quite a bit more complicated than it looks (hence the $170 price point). “Once inside the container, the beer is sealed from outside air,” Petracca says. “The system dynamically adjusts pressure inside the cannister, so we’re not sucking the beer up, but actually pushing the beer down through the bottle and up through the tube.” This, Petracca says, helps to maintain as much undissolved carbonation in the beer as possible. Pushing the nozzle back to pour the head activates sound waves, which agitate the beer and dial in the density of the foam.

Use it when:
You prefer draft beer over cans and bottles. “It gives you a draft beer experience from a flavor perspective for beers in cans and bottles,” says Petracca. “Plus, it works extremely well with growlers. Pouring from those things is difficult and keeping them fresh is difficult. But you can pack the device with ice, and the canister acts as an insulator, so not only does it keep the beer cold, but keeps it fresh all day long. It’s really fun to use it at a beer tasting, pouring a growler for your friends.”

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THE SONIC FOAMER

What is it?
“The Sonic Foamer is designed to manage the head of a fresh beer to allow to enjoy the flavor and aromas that a good head brings,” says Rudy Flores of California Creations, which produces the device.

How does it work?
Pour a couple tablespoons of water on the Sonic Foamer’s pad, place your glass of beer in the water and press a button. When you do, Flores says, “Ultrasonic sound waves excite the gasses in your beer creating the perfect head and bringing out the aromas.”

Use it when:
You want head on your beer with every sip. “It allows every drink of your beer to taste as good as the first by creating the perfect head to release the aromas and flavor,” Flores says. “The head also protects your beer from being exposed to oxygen, which as you know, has a negative impact on the flavor of your beer.”

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THE BEER FOAMER

What is it?
A small, shatterpoof plastic container with a copper top that takes visual inspiration from the copper boilers you see in old breweries. Attached to the copper section is a spinning head, basically a frother for beer.

How does it work?
You pour a quarter-inch or half-inch of beer into the container, then pour the rest of the beer in your drinking glass carefully, avoiding the creation of any head. You put the copper top in place and press the button, which sets the foamer spinning and froths it up good. Then you take the top off and gently pour the foam on top of your beer.

Use it when:
You like your head frothy and your beer highly carbonated. “The designers love draft beer. And how do you get draft beer in your home without installing all that machinery?” says Helle Jensen of Creative Danes, the device’s manufacturer. “They looked into what creates that special taste that draft beer has, and it’s in the bubbles. It’s in the way the beer is aerated and frothed.” According to the Foamer’s makers, pouring a canned or bottled beer with force creates head with large bubbles and low density, reducing the beer’s carbonation and leaving you with boring, flat liquid and inferior foam. The Foamer, they say, allows you to have the best of both worlds— crisp, bubbly beer and soft, dense foam.

 

Author
Zach Fowle is DRAFT's beer editor. Reach him at zach@draftmag.com.

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