Mouthfeel, or the mouth feel of a beer, is the mouth’s perception of the body of a beer and is typically described as light, medium, or full. A beer’s body is formed from the residual proteins, minerals, salts’ and unfermented sugars that remain in the finished beer. The body of a beer is perceived as viscosity or thickness by the mouth. Each style of beer has a coinciding expectation for mouthfeel, and beers are rated on that expectation. For instance, a lager or pilsner should have a light body, and an imperial stout should have a full body if brewed correctly.
Head retention refers to a beer’s ability to retain its foamy head once the beer has been poured. In most styles of beer, a thick foamy head that does not dissipate too quickly is very desirable. The three primary factors that impact a beer’s head are the carbonation level of the beer, residual proteins that form the body of the finished beer, and isomerized humulones pulled from the hops that were added during a beer’s boil. Hops that are added during fermentation or once the beer has cooled below approximately 175° F will not isomerize and will have very little impact on head retention. A stronger or hoppier beer will tend to have better head retention because it will usually have more residual proteins and a greater amount of isomerized humulones.
The most common ways of enhancing a beer’s head retention are to add high alpha acid hops during the boil, utilize grains such as crystal malts or wheat, or add an adjunct such as maltodextrin to your boil. Striking the right balance is a bit of an art, as you do not want to compromise the taste of your beer or risk clarity issues by pushing too hard for good head retention.
Maltodextrins are a group of mostly unfermentable carbohydrates produced by the partial hydrolysis of starch or glycogen. Maltodextrins typically impart little or no flavor upon the finished beer, but are important because they can be a valuable method for adding gravity and perceived body and mouthfeel to a beer.
This can be extremely helpful when you are brewing a heavy adjunct beer, such as a gluten free ale, that might have a thin or diminished body. Maltodextrin is often made from corn, and a typical composition will be .5% dextrose, 2.5% maltose, 3.5% maltotriose, 93.5% higher saccharides. You will want to consult your vendor for actual numbers.
Dextrins, and in this case specifically maltodextrins, are a group of mostly unfermentable carbohydrates produced by the partial hydrolysis of starch or glycogen. Dextrins and maltodextrins typically impart little to no flavor upon the finished beer, but are important because they can be a valuable method for adding gravity and perceived body and mouthfeel to a beer. This can be extremely helpful when you are brewing a heavy adjunct based beer such as a gluten free ale that might have a thin body. Maltodextrin is often made from corn, and a typical composition will be .5% dextrose, 2.5% Maltose, 3.5% maltoriose, 93.5% higher saccharides. You will want to consult your vendor for actual numbers.
Body in brewing terms is often described as the thickness or viscosity of a beer as judged by your mouth. The body of a beer is typically described as thin, medium or full. Different varieties of beer are assumed to have a specific body profile; for instance a light lager or pilsner would be expected to have a thin body profile, whereas a stout would have a full body. The term mouthfeel is oftentimes used synonymously with body.
Determining factors in defining and making up a beer’s body include proteins, carbonation level, unfermentable sugars such as maltodextrin, water profile, and alcohol level.