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LTP1: the Master of Beer Foam (VIDEO)

May 14, 2014 05:16 PM EDT
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What makes a good head of foam on your beer? Food science researchers say that it is all about just the right amount of a barely lipid transfer protein (LTP) classified as "LTP1."

Cornell University's Karl J. Siebert, the principal investigator who sought the "secret" of a good beer head explains that despite brewer tradition and tried-and-true techniques, "LTP1 is the key to perfect beer foam."

Seibert insisted in a Cornell new release that a thick head of foam on a beer is "of vital importance" to the experience of drinking a beer.

Seibert, teaches a class about beer at Cornell as the answer to other agriculture and chemistry schools' famous wine classes. In these classes, he explains a rule of thumb common among many beer critics is to draw a face into the foam with your finger before drinking.

This practice isn't just for the fun of playing with foam. It supposedly tells aficionados about the proper height, consistency, and duration of a beer's head.

"If the face is still there, when the glass is drained and the liquid is gone - that's seriously good foam," Seibert said.


(Credit: Cornell University: Micah Cormier)

 Seibert investigated the most important factors of foam, concluding that LTP1 is the end-all of what makes that face stick around to the last drop. This detail, among others, is slated to be published in the Journal of the American Society of Brewing Chemists later this year.

Still, you may notice the next time you order a draft, that some bar tenders like to pour their beer into a glass at a moderate pace and at an angle, limiting how much of a head each beer has. Generally, this depends on the establishment, but this practice tends to be most common for craft beers distributors. Volume and flavor, not the aromatic experience, may tell customers they are getting more bang for their buck.

Jim Cohen, a beer aficionado for Beer World writes while this can be true, many European brewers in particular will argue that the smells that waft from a subtly bubbling head add to the overall experience of the drink, and even influence how a drinker's taste buds respond.

As the Cornell paper has yet to published in a peer-reviewed journal, it is recommended that the findings be considered as preliminary until official publication.

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