You cheat yourself each time you lose sight of the fact that each beer has a story to tell. Every time you drink a beer, remember that its recipe was dreamed up by a brewmaster, its ingredients were tweaked in dozens of pilot batches, its yeast was chosen methodically and even its packaging choice was part of its journey. All of this was done so that when the beer reaches you, the consumer, you can enjoy each sip exactly as the brewmaster intended. With all that in mind, know that by not presenting the beer properly, you’re denying yourself an awesome experience.
Proper beer presentation encompasses many things like serving temperature and glassware, but in this case, we’re going to talk about the pour. Yes, there’s a proper way to pour a beer.
The fewest ingredients you can have in a beer is 4: Barley, Hops, Water and Yeast. Depending on the style of beer you’re drinking, it could have a heck of a lot more. All of those ingredients have unique flavors and aromas that were crafted to taste well together. Creating a nice frothy head on your beer helps draw these flavors and aromas out front and center. So lets look at what the proper pour does to all that fun stuff in your brew:
- It Makes it more aromatic – “Volatile Aromatics” is the fun name for the smell of the hop oils, character from yeast (alcohol, fruitiness) and any other spices that are released by the foam on your beer. Some of these only linger for brief seconds (like the sulfuric smell from a lager) so an initially good pour is important in order to capture all fascets of the aroma.
- It Releases Carbonation – Carbonation in beer does a few things but the major contribution is mouthfeel. There are but a few styles of beer that don’t want those lively bubbles. For most beers, it’s a must.
- It Makes it prettier – Head on a beer looks nicer than a beer without one. Is an Oktoberfest or a glass of iced tea more visually appealing? Without a nice head, they would look nearly identical.
All those things sound nice, don’t they? Now that you know why you should pay attention to your pour, below is how it’s done. Keep in mind that if you’re pouring from a draught faucet the only additional rules are to open the tap fully and for sanitary reasons, NEVER dip the faucet into the beer (It can contaminate your beer or contaminate the lines with bacteria and give a metallic taste to your beer as well). Without further ado:
- Hold your glass at a 45 degree angle 1 inch below the glass or faucet.
- Pour down the side of the glass until the glass is filled approximately halfway.
- Adjust the glass so that it’s now straight up.
- Continue pouring down the middle of the glass until there’s approximately 1 in of foam (some Belgian styles call for 2-4in of foam)
- In some cases, there may be a small amount of yeast lingering at the bottom of the bottle. Leave the yeast in the bottle unless you (or the customer) would like it poured or if the style (like Hefeweizen) calls for it.
There you have it. Now you can pour a beer like a champ every time. What a life skill.
With all of that being said, by no means am I implying or encouraging that these rules are to be followed religiously. This is just meant to give you the knowledge on how and why. It’s up to you when/if you want to use it. If you want to sit on your couch sipping a can of your mass light lager while watching TV, by all means do so. I was doing that this past weekend, so to say not to would be hypocritical. However, when you’re drinking a beer with a story to tell, just take a couple extra seconds to make sure you let it do so.