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English Blog


To the English version of the blog of Leven in de Brouwerij. Here you can find a diversity of stories about wines, cheeses, and beers that I have made. And I am also not afraid to share the failures that I created. Perhaps these are even the most informative. They are surely the more entertaining stories.

I do not want to discredit myself, but I have to mention that I am an amateur without any training in the three arts. However that does not stop me from making very nice wines, cheeses, and beers.

Look here for the table of contents. And here are some links to other resources and some files.

Here you can find a wordpress version of this blog.

Enjoy reading!



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Chicken Rice

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The people that know me a bit know that I am not very happy with the way we treat food in the Netherlands. A popular joke is:

"What is Dutch food?"

"It is your food but then we mash it and call it stamppot."

My father is not a brilliant cook, but likes to barbeque. Nobody was allowed to interfere with his work. There was no pre cooked chicken. Awfull. Pre cooked chicken. No, my father would make real chicken on the barbeque according to his philosophy: Black on the outside, raw inside,

And that worked fine. The fat would create fantastic fires! Nowadays there is so much water in chicken that the barbeque almost terminates.

And then there is my mother. She prepared food the rest of the year. Working was unfortunately more important so we ate vegetable porridge instead of vegetables.

I did not learn to to cook from my parents. But that is the only negative thing thing I can say about them. They are the sweetest persons on th planet with a good brain and sense of humour.

But they don't care about food.


I was lucky to live in singapore for a year. I did not have a live besides work but the food was incredible, Every lunch was “Chicken Rice”.


chicken rice

Nothing special but everyday a party. The chili sauce is incredible. I searched forever but thanks to Christine's recipes I can eat this again.


Singaporean Chicken Rice


Ingredients: (serves 2)

  • 2 chicken legs

  • 4 to 5 slices ginger

  • 1 spring onion (shallot), sectioned

  • 2 cups white rice, rinsed and drained well

  • 2 tsp minced garlic

  • 1 tsp grated ginger

  • 2 to 3 bay leaves

  • Salt, to taste

  • 2 cups chicken stock

  • Cucumber, few slices for garnish

Iced water for soaking cooked chicken:

  • 1 bowl water, should cover the chicken

  • 20 ice cubes

Chili sauce

  • 2 to 3 chilies (depends on how hot you like)

  • 5 slices ginger

  • 6 cloves garlic

  • 3 Tbsp lime juice

  • 4 Tbsp chicken stock

  • sugar, to taste

  • salt, to taste

  • chicken-rice-levenindebrouwerij



  • Heat oil in wok, sauté minced garlic and grated ginger until aromatic.

  • Add drained rice and stir fry for 3 minutes.

  • Toss in bay leaves and pour chicken stock into the rice. Bring to a boil.

  • Transfer to electric cooker and cook rice as usual.

  • Rinse chicken and drain well.

  • Place spring onion and ginger on chicken and steam over high heat, covered with a lid, for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Insert a chop stick or needle into the thickest part of chicken leg. If clear liquid runs out, it’s cooked. I

  • mmediately transfer chicken legs into iced water and soak for 15 to 20 minutes. This is an old traditional Chinese way of making the skin and meat of steamed chicken become smoother and tenderer.

  • To prepare chili sauce, just process all ingredients with a food processor for a minute. Add salt and/or sugar to taste.

  • When the chicken legs cool down, drain well.

  • Chop into chunks and serve with cooked chicken rice.

  • Garnish with cucumber slices if desired.

  • Many Chinese people like eating steamed chicken with minced ginger and spring onion sauce. Just heat up a bit oil in wok or saucepan. When the oil becomes very hot, immediately pour the oil onto minced ginger and finely chopped shallot. Add salt or soy sauce to taste. That’s the popular ginger and shallot sauce for chicken. This Hainanese chicken tastes fantastic, accompanying with both chili sauce and minced ginger shallot sauce.


You can buy chicken rice everywhere in Singapore and each stall has it's own recipe and they are all proud of it, Which is completely justified. If you have ever been to Singapore and did not eat this.. You have not been to Singapore.


P.S. please vistit the shop van Leven in de Brouwerij.


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Solera, lera, whatever may be, may be

It is not a disease.




Yes, you are correct. 1880. I bought it a few years ago from my parents in Spain.


And not for a fortune. Is it a wine from 1880?

Well, yes and no. Solera is a way of blending wine.


  • The barrels of 1880 are placed on the ground.

  • Barrels of 1881 are placed on top.

  • The barrels of 1880 are partly bottled and sold.

  • The 1880 barrels are topped up with the 1881 wine.
  • On top of the 1881 wine barrels barrels of 1882 barrels are stacked to fill the 1881 barrels.
  • And so on.



A blend of all the years from 1880 and on is created. Obviously there is not much left of the wine created in 1880.


But still: Is'nt it a great idea to drink something that has survived generations, crises and all distucting world wars?


What is a good time to drink such a wine?





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Is alcohol healthy?

Volledig bericht lezen: Is alcohol healthy?

A little over 10 years ago I started making wine. I read a lot about it and also about whether it was healthy or not. I found a lot of research that made me feel good. A few were not as positive but all together the results were surprisingly reassuring.

I started reading this scientific document but unfortunately I am not enough scientist to understand it. The part that I do understand is the message in this graph.








A so-called J curve. On the horizontal axis the amount of consumed alcohol and the vertical one can be called "health" I suppose. Drinking moderate amounts increases your life span. When you drink a bit more this positive effect disappears. And when you drink even more it becomes unhealthy.

The mayor conclusion that I pick up from this is: A moderate drinker is living a healthier life than the abstainer. Great news right?

Some time ago I client who is also a friend, asked me: "My cholestorol is a bit high. Is drinking beer good for me?"

I answered him: "I may not be a doctor but I prescribe it to all my patients."


I googled just for fun and I found a page that is typical for the days we live in. (Sorry that it is in Dutch)


It is the first hit in google and it must be the number one worthless pag on the whole internet. It opens with: Alcohol and cholestorol are no friends.

The writer continues to explain that 2 glasses alcohol per day improves the good cholestorol (HDL), and that the total cholestorol increases when you drink more than 2 glasses.

Then he reaches the conclusion that it is not adviceable to drink a lot of alcohol.


He twists and turns his own words just to say that alcohol is bad for you!


And that is what is happening these days. Alcohol is in the doghouse. In England they went overboard. A few years ago doctors would advice the elderly to drink a glass a day. And younger people also received the blessing: Three glasses per day for the men, and two glasses for the women was fine.

Now the policy is that each drop of alcohol is one too many. Every english person: Please stop drinking NOW!


Right. That is going to happen!


But what is the truth? Google it. You can find every answer that you are looking for. In the mean time I will find comfort in one of my favorite quotes.


“There are more old drunkards than old doctors.”


Benjamin Franklin.




P.S. Visit our shop: Leven in de Brouwerij.


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The Cork!

Volledig bericht lezen: The Cork!

Which is the best; A cork or a screw cap? For years a big discussion in the world of wine. Cork slowly lets air through. This improves the wine and it becomes more balanced. The screw cap should not do this. As far as I know this information is not correct and screw caps have a linet that can let a bit air in the bottle. This discussion is out of my league. Which is better? No idea. Perhaps it even depends on the wine.

However I can say which is more fun. Obviously the cork is much nicer. Uncorking is a small ritual that belongs to a good wine. The plop creates expectations and sets the mood. You take the time to enjoy the moment.



But that is also not what I wanted to discuss.

I wanted to talk about a myth that may not be known by "normal" people. The myth is that you cannot store wine standing up. It seems a bit far fetched to me. Closed is closed right?

The idea behind this myth is that de cork is dry when the bottle is standing and when it dries out it lets air pass through. The air oxidizes the wine and it goes bad.

I believed that this was nonsens until I bottled a batch of elderberry wine. I did not have place and was forced to leave the bottles.

When I opened a bottle I noticed that the wine was not as nice as I expected. Not a disaster but simply not as good. It took me a while to link the facts but after some time I realized that the bottle had been standing for a long time!

What a surprise: The myth is correct: You can't store a wine standing up!

Another lesson learned.




P.S. Visit our shop: Leven in de Brouwerij.


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Elderflower Wine

Volledig bericht lezen: Elderflower Wine

Elderberries are a gift to the wine maker. The berries are great for making a red wine. The flowers are also a great source for making a white wine.

The recipe is perhaps a bit vague but I did not find a clearer one at that time. I made this wine more than 7 years ago. In some way I regret making wine from the flowers because there will be no berries after picking the flowers.






The recipe for 25 liter

  • 2,5 liter elderflower (A very strange unit for measuring elderflower but that was what I was given.)
  • 5350 gram sugar. Since the flowers do not supply any sugar you have to add a lot. This should give 11,9% alcohol.
  • 150 gram acid. Also no acid in the flowers. This should give about 6 gram per liter in the wine
  • Yeast nutrition. Wine from flowers is a challenge for yeast so you should add nutrition.
  • 3 gr Tannine Blanc. Nowadays I do not add tannin to white wine but in this case it is not out of place since this is already a special wine
  • White wine yeast


  • Day 1. Place the flowers in a plastic bag with some sulphite. The idea is that the white leaves can be removed from the green stems.
  • Place the flowers with pectolytic enzymes in 5 liter water. Prepare a starter.
  • Day 2. 26 gr citric acid, 30 gr malic acid, 28 gr tartaric acid, 3 gr tannine, 15 gr nutrition, 2 kg sugar added to the most and water to 15 liter. Added the starter.
  • Day 5. Removed the flowers. Added 14 gr citric acid, 10 gr malic acid, 22 gr tartaric acid, 9 gr nutrition, and 3 kg sugar. Water to 21 liter.
  • Later water to 25 liter.

The result

After about 6 months the wine is finished. For an average wine drinker it takes some time to get used to it. Which does not mean that it is a bad wine, but the modern person is not able to handle change very well. The wine has a very strong flavour and aroma of flowers. I wrote Wild, Natural, and Powerful especially for a white wine in my notes.

Perhaps a bit acidic.


Next time I would use a bit less acid.

The wine is interesting. A lot of taste but as mentioned before: Not a wine for everybody. Elderflower is a very nice addition to an otherwise bit plain wine. Add a few grams to apple wine!

You may have noticed that the total weight of acids is not 150 grams. Since malic acid and citric acid are more powerful the total is equal to 150 gram tartaric acid.

These days I would not take so many steps. I think it is not necessary to prepare 5 liter, 15 liter, 21 liter, and finally 25 liter.


P.S. Visit our shop: Leven in de Brouwerij.


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Saltier than the Red Sea

Volledig bericht lezen: Saltier than the Red Sea

To protect cheese and for flavour salt is added. On some cheeses it is added to the outside or to the curds.

In other recipes the cheeses will be put in brine. The salt will slowly dissolve in the cheese.

The salt removes water from the rind and makes the environment less attractive to bacteria. Adding salt increases the shelf life of cheeses.

The mother culture will also be affected and the cheese becomes less sour.

Since the salt decreases the size of the curd particles it also changes the structure.




In the literature it is advised to use salt without iodine because it is supposed to be bad for the cheese bacteria. I have made cheese with normal table salt and it worked fine. I am not sure if this is a real problem or just a cheese myth.

After reading a few books and some research on the internet I decided for the following brine solution:

  • 2 liter water,
  • 27 gram CalciumChloride solution 33%
  • 500 gram salt


It is no exact science. A few grams here and there are no problem. To check the brine a brine scale is used. I don't have one but it is in fact a hydrometer with a different scale. So why not use the hydrometer for wine? The S.G. of the solution is 1155.

During the time in the brine Calcium leeches out of the cheese. ClaciumChloride is added to the brine to decrease this effect.

The solution can be used several times and improves because the "Calcium Leak" becomes smaller when several cheeses have leaked their Calcium.

Obviously you have to add salt to the brine to replace the salt used in the cheeses.


So far everything was clear.



Here is where it all went wrong!


I am a big fan of smelly cheeses like Munster. Love it!


These cheeses acquire their “aroma” by Brevibacterium Linens. This bacterium thrives on feet and in moist conditons.

Therefore the recipe for Munster mentions that you should wash it every 2 days with a brine solution.

Which I did without the expected result. The rind of the cheese should become muddy. And smelly. The cheese turned yellow but it dried out. The bacterium did not live.

The cheese was horrible. Way to salty! No surprise that the bacteria died.

And there was the problem. There is brine, and there is brine.

The solution for cleaning is a lot weaker than the solution described above. After this mistake I use a solution of 1 teaspoon in a cup of water to clean cheeses. Then you will have the horrible yellow mud on on your cheese. It is hard to believe that this is the way it should be but that slimy, smelly goo is what want on your cheese.




P.S. Visit our shop: Leven in de Brouwerij.


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My Teeth may not be Beautiful…

Volledig bericht lezen: My Teeth may not be Beautiful…

But they are still there!


You have to love the internet. Everybody with a computer can ventilate any opinion. Even I can!


Not too long ago I stumbled on a movie. A big cola person was butchered by a reporter because of the huge amount of sugar in cola. He had no answer.



Even though the answer could be quite simple. In apple juice there is just as much sugar!


So why blame cola? You can order a small one!


A small googling session told me that alcohol is supposed to be bad for your teeth. Especially the strong drinks mixed with for example cola.

White wine also did not do very well.

Red wine a little better but it still is bad for your teeth. Unacceptable of course, so I continued googling. With some success: I actually found a study that says that red wine can even have a positive effect on the health of your teeth because it kills bacteria. (Don’t you love the internet?)


The main reason that “the internet” thinks that alcoholic drinks are bad for teeth is the high acidity. Apparently acid makes your teeth weak. It is also a bad idea to brush them just after a drink because they are vulnerable at that moment.

Sugar is another bad ingredient because it is a source of energy for bacteria that form plaque.


But what about alcohol? Alcohol, as a molecule, is not too far away from sugar. Does that harm my teeth? Since lots of mouthwash products contain alcohol I assume that alcohol itself has no negative effects on teeth.


So what would be drinks that you should not drink if you want to keep your teeth? As far as I know acid and sugar are the main destructive forces. So please note that I am only comparing the drinks on the basis of sugar and pH. You have to decide for yourself if you believe that this is right, or not entirely, or entirely not.


During these tests I found out that the results of the pH meter that I use is getting more unreliable when the pH decreases. However even if they are not as accurate as I would like, it still places the drinks in the right order.

One thing to consider is that the pH scale works globally as follows: pH 5 means 10 times more acid than pH 6. pH 4 means 10 times more acid than pH 5. So in cola there is 10 times more acid than in red wine.



105 gr/l

pH 2,7



114 gr/l

pH 3,3


7 Up

110 gr/l

pH 3,3


White wine

0 gr/l

pH 3,4


Fresh orange juice

85 gr/l

pH 3,5


Red wine

0 gr/l

pH 3,7


Apple juice

100 gr/l

pH 3,9


Sport drink

70 gr/l

pH 4,1



10 gr/l

pH 4,3



48 gr/l

pH 7,2



0 gr/l

pH 7,9



Blood? No data available/


Time to draw some conclusions:

The winner is cola. High acidity and a lot of sugar. Your teeth are in hell.

Wines may be rather acidic but have little or no sugar so still better than very popular soft drinks.

Beer is a good choice for the drinker who still has his own teeth.

And then there is wodka. No sugar and no acid. This could be my new tooth paste!


Yet completely misunderstood by the internet. Sites tell me that wodka red bull is a terrible drink for your teeth. The worst part is that this is not incorrect. Everything with red bull is terrible for teeth!

A more accurate statement would be: Red bull makes your teeth rot and mixing it with wodka does not help!




P.S. Visit our shop: Leven in de Brouwerij.


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The Myths of Sulphite

Volledig bericht lezen: The Myths of Sulphite

If you learn one thing from this story let it be this:

Sulfites do not kill yeast!

At least not in normal quantities.Many people who wanted to make a sweet wine have encountered exploding bottles because the yeast continued their work in bottled sweet wine. If you want to kill yeast you must also use potassium sorbate.




Sulfite in wine is a subject of many, many discussions. The biggest objections against sulfites are that it is a chemical which kills bacteria and therefore it cannot be healthy to put it in food. The second myth is that it is the main cause for headaches.

Some people may have an allergic reaction to sulfites but most of us will not notice it. The cause of headaches are more likely drinking too much alcohol and staying up too late in a smoky environment. Sulfite is a preservative that is used to protect many other food products which do not cause headaches.

The hobby wine maker has a big advantage compared to big wine producers. You can decide yourself how much sulfite you want to use. In case something goes wrong and your wine becomes vinegar the loss is not that big so you can try to minimize the amount of sulfite.



However there are many sources that claim many positive aspects of using sulfite.

1 Preventing wild yeasts and bacteria to develop in your fruit. Wild yeast can ferment your wine but it is very well possible that these yeasts are not able to survive in an environment with a high alcohol concentration. You will end up with a sweet wine with a low alcohol percentage.
Cultured yeast are also selected on their ability to survive sulfite. The situation will be in their advantage and they will overpower any remaining wild yeast depriving them from their food.

2 Preventing wine turning into vinegar. Fruit flies carry bacteria which turns your wine into vinegar. Sulfite may kill this bacteria however some of them are able to survive sulfite.

3 Preventing oxidation. When you take the skin off an apple it will turn brown very quickly. This is because of the reaction with oxygen. When you sprinkle the apple with a sulfite solution this reaction will not happen because the sulfite will prevent this.

4 Preventing loss of aroma. Sulfite helps forming certain components that determine the taste and flavor of the wine.

5 Preventing malolactic fermentation. In red wines malolactic fermentation may be desirable because the strong malic acid is converted to smoother lactic acid which gives the wine a softer taste. In white wines this is usually undesirable because usually they should be more fresh and fruity.

6 Helps clearing. Sulfite reacts with certain charged particles which helps clearing the wine.

7 Forms glycerin. When Sulfite is present during fermentation a limited amount of glycerin is formed. Glycerin is an alcohol which makes wine taste a bit sweet and soft. Glycerin are the drops that hang to the glass when you give the wine a little swirl.


How and where to use it

You can use sulfite in combination with acid to sterilize your equipment. This is not the same as cleaning!

Dissolve a few grams of sulfite and a few grams of acid in half a liter water. You can smell that your sulfite. (Be careful while smelling. It can be a strong scent.)

When you store demijohns you can keep them with a little water with some sulfite and acid. This way your equipment is always sterile.


When you want to use sulfite in your must (Before fermenting) use 1 gram per 10 liter must.

Racking for the first time. 1 Gram per 10 liter

Subsequent racking. 0,5 Gram per 10 liter

Bottling dry wine: 0,5 Gram per 10 liter

Bottling sweet wine: 1 Gram per 10 liter


In case you want a malolactic fermentation you do not add sulfite until the fermentation is complete.


Small simplified explanation

1 Gram sulfite contains 0,5 gram SO2. When you add this to 10 liter wine the concentration is 50mgr/l. This is the same as 50ppm (Parts per million)

Part of these 50 will be bound to other components in the wine. Approximately 20-30 mgr remains as “free”. This 30 ppm is a good concentration for home wine makers. Professional wine makers are allowed to use up to seven times this amount.


Shelf life

Sulfite reacts with oxygen and becomes less potent in time. Close the package after use and do not buy in large quantities. I keep my stock in the refridgerator. I am not really sure if this actually helps.


P.S. Visit our shop: Leven in de Brouwerij.


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Killing Yeast Is Not Easy

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A few years ago, when we started our company I had a clear moment which worried me. I realized that our products may be shipped under difficult circumstances. My main concern was temperature. Most products will be safe but what about the yeasts? As far as I know they should be stored in a refrigerator. There probably is a reason for this. On the other hand; supermarkets don’t store the bread yeast cold. So how important is this?




I decided to test the yeasts. It was a very simple test. I placed the bags of yeast in the oven and let them stay there for a week at 40 – 45 C. After that I checked whether the yeast were still alive.

I was not disappointed. The yeast was not affected at all. It worked perfectly and my mind found peace again.



A few days ago I noticed that I had 2 very old packages of wine yeast. The expiration date is November 2013. Three years ago…. I estimate that the yeast must be 5 or 6 years old. Normally I would throw it away but I was curious. Would the yeast have survived?


So I prepared a very simple starter. It is only apple juice in a clean bottle with the cap placed on top of it. (Not sealed of course) I was actually not surprised that after a few hours the fermentation clearly was underway. Again, I could not see any difference between this old yeast and a new package. I have another package that expired November 2013. Maybe I will test this again in 2020.



The juice is fermenting nicely and I am going to let it finish the job. See if it becomes a nice cider.

So if you have problems with a fermentation I would not blame the yeast. More likely the circumstances in which the yeast are put are too hostile. For example beers with a lot of alcohol may have trouble fermenting after bottling. If this is the case you can try to add champagne yeast which is very alcohol tolerant, give it a better chance with a starter, or in very serious cases you can try to restart the fermentation like this.




P.S. Visit our shop: Leven in de Brouwerij.


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Don't Lose your Head!

Volledig bericht lezen: Don't Lose your Head!

The most frustrating problem I had in beer making must be the head. I tried my best to copy a successful recipe as good as I possibly could and when the beer was finished I would be very disappointed by it. I would pour the beer in a glass and foam would appear. But then, the small bubbles would turn in big bubbles and within minutes they would collapse and the beer would look as if it had been standing there the whole evening. The soul had disappeared. In Dutch we literally call it “dead”.

I had no idea why it happened because I did everything according to the recipe. So It was time to find out what went wrong. And I found some information that was very helpful. I normally don’t like copying information without testing it but I think that the information I found was pretty good.

First of all I found that there are positive and negative influences on the head. And that the negative influences are much greater than the positive. For example: A perfect beer in a “dirty” glass will always result in disappointing foam.

So what happens when you pour a beer?

First foam forms. I guess that usually this is not a problem When there is CO2, bubbles appear and they drag beer up to form bubbles.

After that the beer drains down between the bubbles and the foam starts to dry.

Then the foam should be strong enough to remain. Some kind of structure should form to keep the bubbles small and strong. If there is something wrong the small bubbles will not be able to sustain themselves and collapse, forming bigger bubbles that will also collapse. It’s like watching your work being destroyed without being able to do anything about it. A dead beer is a sad, sad sight.



No problem with this beers head


So what are the things that attack our beloved heads?

  • Higher alcohols. When we talk about alcohol we usually mean ethanol. Ethanol has 2 carbon atoms. Higher alcohols have 3 or more. A strong beer contains more higher alcohols and this has a negative affect on foam.
  • Esters. Esters are formed by acids and alcohols. Stronger beers contain more acids and alcohol and therefore again they have more problems with foam.
  • The biggest influence are lipids: Fats, oils, wax, sterols. Drinking a beer while eating cheese is killing the beer. The best advice is to clean your glass with hot water and rinse it thoroughly to get rid of soap residues.
  • Mashing. Malts of the past needed more steps in mashing. These steps were needed to break down proteine chains. If you do this with “modern” malts the proteine chains are broken down in small chains that cannot sustain foam. So it is advisable to start with a mashing temperature of at least 60 C. In case you use a high percentage of unmalted ingredients you may need to start mashing at a lower temperature.
  • Boiling too long causes alpha acids to be removed from hop. These acids are a positive factor in head retention. Boiling longer than 90 minutes should be avoided. For other reasons you should not boil less than 60 minutes.


And what can be done to improve our head?

  • Hops. Isomerized alpha acids have a positive effect on foam. So a beer with enough IBU’s has a better chance of a good head.
  • Malts. Cara malts contain longer proteins and do not contain enzymes anymore to break them down.
  • Racking. Remove the wort from the yeast after the first fermentation stage is finished. Dead yeast may fall apart and enzymes will form that break down the protein that are helpful for the head.
  • Fermentation temperature. Yeast is extremely important for your beer in more than 1 aspect so you should do your best to keep them happy. In the case of head retention it is advisable to ferment at temperatures that are not too high. Esters and high alcohols are formed and they are not good for your head. (High alcohols are really not good for YOUR head as well.)
  • Shake the bottled beers 2 weeks after bottling. I am not sure if it is a myth or truly helpful but the idea is that shaking the bottles dissolves the CO2 in the neck back in the beer.

I am merely an amateur and do not have the intellectual background to explain all the above. I doubt that there is any person on earth that possesses so much knowledge. I gathered these tips and translated them in “normal people language” because I found them helpful and I hope that it helps to give you a healthy head.




P.S. Visit our shop: Leven in de Brouwerij.


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