It may not rival the old debate on whether to have your toilet paper unroll from the top or bottom, but how to properly pour beer remains a controversial subject. Poll a series of bartenders, and you’ll receive a range of responses, but that doesn’t scare us.
We have some generally-accepted pouring rules down pat, but feel free to submit your own!
How to Pour Beer: Basic Skills
Pouring beer starts at the sink. The glass needs to be clean, dust-free and void of any paper or cotton towel lint. Air drying your glasses is preferable to towel drying or relying on drying agents in a dishwasher, which can leave a chemical residue that might not impair your heath, but can deflate the head of the beer you want to pour. Oil and dirt mess with your head.
Pick up your can or bottle in one hand, and a glass in the other. Hold the glass at a 45¡ angle.
Pour slowly, targeting the middle of the side of the glass.
When the glass is half-full, tip it upright.
Continue to pour into the middle of the glass.
Your goal is to create roughly three centimeters (a little over an inch) of foam. With just a bit of practice, you will master the technique.
Pouring Beer: Advanced Techniques
Bartenders achieve better results by adjusting their pouring technique to the needs of various brews and even the preferences of familiar customers.
When pouring ales, flatten out the angle of the glass a little, and let the beer slide extra gently down its side. This prevents the head from growing too large. The technique also minimizes agitation as you pour, and keep the hop oils down in the body of the glass, rather than moving up through the head. Your ale will show its best flavor.
On the other hand, if you truly want thicker foam, create a steeper angle as you pour, or pour from a higher distance.
Stouts are a type of ale, but darker, thicker, more full-bodied, with loads of hops. To fully enjoy a stout, you will want to create a healthy head.
Interrupt your pour with a few pauses. Allow the head to accumulate. A dense, thick, creamy head enhances a stout’s deep flavor.
If a pour for stout demands patience, a good pour for a pilsner requires some spirit. Let your pilsner flavor and bouquet flourish by developing a substantial head. With a bit of practice, you’ll master the technique of pouring with vigor until the soft foam curls just a touch above the rim of the glass. Some bartenders pour pilsner from a greater height than others.
Like little rabbits, pilsners are light and hoppy. Allowing foam to form releases carbon dioxide, an essential, signature component of pilsner; no pilsner worthy of the term lacks carbonation. Pilsners are perky, bubbly, not flat.
Pouring Weizenbier or Wheat Beer
Yeasty and full-flavored, with high carbonation, Weizenbier shows best if you offer it a gentle pour. Yeast is a focal point for the flavor of wheat beer. To extract the maximum yeast flavor, you need to drain all of the yeast that tends to settle in the bottom of the bottle. To do so, leave a little beer in the bottle, the swirl it gently, angling the bottle so that the liquid cleans off the bottom of the bottle side, then pour the dregs into your glass.
Folks in Belgium sometimes wet their glass prior to pouring to minimize formation of a head; others reject this technique, claiming that it dilutes the flavor of the brew.
Remember, we offer these tips on how to pour beer as guidelines only. Don’t be afraid to innovate! And share your beer-pouring techniques with our community.