Pour it Right
Beer is meant to be enjoyed, and one doesn’t need to be an expert in the subject to do so. However, while most beer drinkers focus exclusively on the taste of beer and the experience once it’s on the tongue, a very important part of the process is often neglected- the pour. Though it may seem like a trifling matter, how your beer gets into the glass greatly affects how it tastes when you bring it to your lips. Not only that, but the style of glass you’re holding also contributes to the overall experience, and a bad combination of either may leave you dissatisfied. In order to avoid such a depressing situation, let this article guide you through the steps of the perfect pour in the perfect glass of whatever beer you may desire.
The Proper Glass and Why It Matters
Despite what some bars might try to tell you, there is no such thing as a ‘universal’ beer glass, so the first thing you want to do is be sure you’re using the right glass for the type of beer you’re drinking. Different beers react to pouring differently, and what might be right for one may not be right for another. Brewers have developed glasses designed specifically to enhance not only the presentation of their beer, but its flavor and aroma as well.
First Of All
No matter what beer you’re pouring into what glass, it’s imperative that the glass is clean. Dusty or greasy glasses have particles that will ruin a beer’s clarity and taste. It’s also recommended that you keep beer glasses out of the dishwasher, as residue from aggressive detergents can keep a good head from developing, which will then result in loss of aroma and flavor.
What’s So Great About Foam?
Foam, or ‘head’ in beerspeak, is more than just a fancy decoration or cruel barrier between you and your delicious beer. In fact, it is a good type of barrier, one which not only keeps out flattening air and nasty molecules, but also keeps in the delightful aromas of the beer that will serve to enhance your drinking experience. As you will see below, many glasses are specifically designed to promote the development of the head, just for this exact purpose. Yet even with the non-fancy everyman beers, some foam is better than none. A general rule of thumb is to aim for 1 to 1 ½ inches (or two finger-lengths) of head on each beer poured.
Often seen with inexperienced bar tenders, the worst crime of the over pour is that it wastes beer. Letting the beer flow up and over the rim of the glass uses more beer than needed, and is also detrimental to the development of a properly sized head.To the top:
Closely related to the over pour, beers should not be filled to the very top of the glass. Though it may seem you’re getting a good deal with some extra beer, the loss of smell and flavor from the lack of foam will not make up for those few extra sips. It’s all about quality over quantity.Under pour:
That’s simply not enough beer! The proper glass is designed to hold the correct amount, whether poured from bottle or tap. Cheating the pour only cheats yourself (or the person you’re serving).Yeasty pour:
Some beers, particularly Belgian and German, contain a sediment of yeast in the bottom of the bottle. Unless this leftover yeast is meant to be part of the taste (as with Heffeweizens and some other brews), you should take care not to disturb it (i.e., mix or shake it up into the rest of the beer). A gentle, slightly more angled pour is required to keep the yeast at the bottom of the bottle. Afterwards, give the yeast a little swirl, and let the drinker choose whether or not to add it in. This will depend on the type of beer, as well as the flavors preferred by the drinker. Adding the yeast will increase the taste of breadiness, and may affect other flavors as well.
Brand Specific Pouring
Stella Artois requires a specific set of steps (called a ritual) in order to pour ‘the perfect Stella Artois’. Each step has a fancy name, like ‘Liquid Alchemy’ or ‘The Bestowal’, and basically follow a similar format as the basic tips seen above, with emphasis on keeping the glass clean, and pouring it in just the right way to unlock the beer’s head and flavor. The brand even has an annual worldwide competition, the Stella Artois World Draught Masters, in which bartenders compete to see who can best follow the 9 step ritual. The winner of this competition becomes a brand ambassador for Stella Artois, and travels around the world until the next championship. Not a bad prize for pouring a beer!
Article by Jessica Smith