“Sound is the forgotten flavor sense,” says experimental psychologist Charles Spence. At his lab at Oxford University in England, he manipulates sound in ways that transform our experience of food and drink, making stale potato chips taste fresh, adding the sensation of cream to black coffee, or boosting the savory, peaty notes in whiskey.
It is, because foam, essentially, is air bubbles trapped in different phases. The foam on top of a beer—those are air bubbles surrounded by liquid. When you churn an ice cream mix, you are driving air bubbles into it. And then the mix freezes and you end up with a bunch of bubbles inside a solid matrix. The same is true of bread.
A bit of grease from pizza residue or lipstick doesn’t do too much to eliminate soda bubbles, but if flattens the head on beer. Why?
The bubbles at the top of a newly-poured glass of soda and the bubbles at the top of a newly-poured glass of beer look pretty much the same – at first. Differences make themselves obvious fairly quickly. Soda bubbles lack fortitude. They fizz down to nothing quickly. Beer foam stays, even when it’s not wanted, until something greasy hits it.
Wheat beers typically have the most voluminous and persistent head. Especially Weissbier. This is because wheat has a higher protein content than barley, and Weissbier has a higher amount of dissolved carbon dioxide relative to most other styles of beer.
The traditional glassware is even designed to accommodate all that fluff.