BY: PETER R. CLARK
A common misconception in the world of beer is that there is no technique when it comes to pouring beer. A lot people just turn the beer over and pour it into a glass, with no method. In order to get the full flavor from a craft brew the proper technique must be performed.
When a beer is poured correctly a decent head (or foam) appears at the top. This head affects the flavor of the beer in many ways. Foam causes a physical perception, in the same way mint “cools” and peppers are “hot.” The head of beer softens the palate. The head is where most of the aromatic characteristics of beer stem from. In the same way we eat with our nose, we also drink with our nose too. So when you drink a beer with a good head you are not only gaining the flavors of the beer through your taste buds, but also through the smell. However, different beers produce different types of foam. A good knowledge of what kind of beer you are pouring will also aide in the amount of foam you see in the glass. Always consult the bottle or beer can to see if there are specific directions on how much foam is desired.
No matter how much foam is desired for a specific beer, the pouring process should always be the same. It all starts with good glassware. Different styles of beer demand different types of glasses. Not all beers are designed to be drank out of a pint glass. However, you can use a tulip glass for most types of beer. Unless otherwise directed by the bottle/can, a tulip glass is the most universal glass. In addition to the type of glass, a clean glass is also required. A dirty glass contains oils or leftover beer. These leftovers may cause undesirable foam or flavors.
After you have chosen a beer, it’s time to get ready to pour it. Open up your beer, and hold your glass and beer in each hand. This is assuming you are using a tall glass, such as a pilsner glass or a pint glass. Tulip pouring will be covered next. Start pouring the beer by holding the glass at a 45 degree angle. It is at this stage you decide how heavy you want to pour. Pouring heavy allows more air to get into the glass and thus allow for more foam. When the liquid in the glass gets to the halfway point, start tilting the glass back to a 90 degree angle. Do this slowly, so by the time the beer gets to about ¾ of the way up the glass, you should be at 90 degrees. Then pour the rest.
If you are using a tulip glass, this process is much easier. Place the glass on the table. Start pouring the beer and stop about halfway up the glass. No tilting required, and the foam produced will be enough for the flavors to develop. You can choose how heavy you want to pour in this instance too. Remember, a heavier pour means more foam.
Below is a video demonstrating the pouring of a beer into a pint and tulip glass.
With these tips, you too can enjoy a tasty brew the way it is meant to be tasted.