I've seen people complain when served a beer without foam. Equally, getting a glass full of foam is no use.

When serving a beer, how much is the right amount of foam and why is this important?

  • 2
    It (also) depends on country - for example in UK usually there is no or minimal amount of foam (possibly as they are serving Imperial pints of beer using standard glasses which leaves no room for foam - serving with foam could be considered cheating customer out of 2.4 fl oz. of beer). Feb 1 '14 at 17:03
  • 1
    Here in New Zealand beers are typically served without foam, with the exception of Guinness. Drinkers will be displeased if you serve them a beer with foam, as they feel they are being ripped off (fill the glass to the top with beer).
    – dwjohnston
    Feb 9 '14 at 23:27
  • 1
    Here in japan the foam is quite important, and most of the time people know how to pour the beer in the right way to produce foam. In the Philippines though I remember my friends not liking being served beer with foam.
    – IBG
    Feb 16 '14 at 6:51
  • The importance of foam is has been discussed in a few other questions here: alcohol.stackexchange.com/questions/3414/… and here: alcohol.stackexchange.com/questions/728/… But the "proper" amount is an interesting question and it'd be worth it to ask that as its own question or edit this to focus on that.
    – Sloloem
    Feb 14 '17 at 17:01
  • I’ve had beers thrown at me in the past if there was more than a millimeter of head. DON'T pour a beer in Australia with a head. Nothing annoys us more than English bar staff who serve beer that’s been flattened by a bad pour with two inches of white air on top.
    – Matt
    Sep 20 '18 at 13:01

Most importantly, a good head helps release the aromas of the beer, especially the hops. Aroma is everything for enjoyment of a good brew. When enjoying a super-hoppy IPA, you should always use a glass that provides a large surface area for aromatics to rise from.

It can also provide the a pleasant mouth feel. Stouts definitely benefit from a thick, silky head.

And lastly, it's eye candy.

As for the right amount of head, it varies. Generally in an average pint glass you want 1-2 finger-widths of head. Some hefeweizens and wit beers are best with a bit more.


Apart from the simple explanation of people liking the foam, the lack of head could indicate problems with the beer. For example:

  1. It could mean that the glass is dirty, or there is left over soap residue on the glass. This can affect the taste of the beer.

  2. It could indicate that the beer has lost its carbonation (the head being formed by the gas quickly coming out of solution in the beer). For many forms of storage a lack of internal pressure will indicate that they are no longer sealed properly, which makes it easier for infections to enter the beer or for it to oxidise.

As for the ideal amount of head, to some extent it will depend on the style of beer.

  • 3
    The lack could also mean that you got the glass that was poured an hour ago but accidentally left in a corner...
    – PlasmaHH
    Feb 5 '14 at 12:10
  • A poorly brewed beer can lack a good head of foam. Also low alcohol beers such as Coors Light, Bud Lite come to mind as lacking a head. Feb 4 '17 at 17:45
  • @farmersteve, I can't comment on Coors/Bud lite (don't drink them), but ABV % does not impact foam. It's more a matter of the malt & protein makeup of the beer and how it was carbonated. By way of example, surely you've had a 0% ABV Coke (or similar) foam all over...?
    – Olie
    Sep 19 '21 at 15:55

One of the most important tasks of the foam is to protect the beer against oxidation. This is why some beer glasses have a rough patch at the bottom so the bubbles will have place to "sprout" from. In a Duvel glass for instance it is a laser engraved Gothic "D". When the beer is in the glass (Duvel is highly carbonated) you can see the bubbles rising from the rough spot and creating a protective blanket on the beer, thus preserving the taste long after you poured it.


Here in the Netherlands, we mostly drink poured beer with like 1/4 of the glass filled with foam and we think the beer is not as good anymore when there is no foam in it as the carbonation is gone. But I don't know how it is in other countries, so I believe it is beer and country-specific how much foam there is in a glass.

  • thanks for inproving my grammar it is not that great yet Oct 11 '18 at 13:41
  • 1
    "carbonation" - minor typo Mar 12 '19 at 14:56
  • 1
    bigbadmouse how it is fixed thanks for the comment to Mar 14 '19 at 8:06

I must say that before starting to brew myself I disliked the head, but when you start to deal with low carbonated beer, it becomes interesting. Just bought this weird "head maker" an ultra-beer thing it is really weird, looks like a sex toy, but creates head with ultrasound. Just stick it in the beer and press the bottom. With some beers it definitely adds flavor, especially hoppy beers.

  • do you have a link ? Sep 20 '18 at 13:43

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