Enjoying Craft Beer: Mastering the Perfect Pour (Part 3 of 3)

18 December 2020
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Are you ever tempted to drink your beer from the bottle or a can? Perish the thought! A product that is as carefully crafted as a well-made beer needs to be treated like the natural wonder it is—and that means pouring it properly. Pouring your beer into a glass before drinking it allows you to savor the yeasty, hopsy aromas in the head and really taste the beer the way it’s meant to be tasted. Select one of the “perfect pour” techniques below to enhance your beer-drinking experience and help ensure that you are enjoying your beer the way the brewer intended. 

First, A Little Knowledge

The head of the beer is formed from bubbles of carbon dioxide (CO2) which occur when the liquid C02 suspended in the beer is converted to gas. Controlling the rate at which the process, called nucleation, occurs is the key to producing the perfect amount of head in your glass—1″–1.5″ of head on your beer. Better living through chemistry, right?

Pouring from a Tap: Easy as 1-2-3

True or false? Pouring your beer into a frosty mug is the best way to create the perfect head. Nope. That’s a myth. Using a cold mug speeds up the nucleation process, causing the beer’s aroma to diminish and the product to go flat faster. 

  1. Start with a fresh glass. No scratches. No dust.
  2. Rinse it with cold water. 
  3. To keep nucleation to a minimum, tilt the glass at a 45° angle and pour gently down the side of the glass. Nucleation is determined by a few factors—how aggressively you pour and the temperature of the beer, but most importantly, the angle at which you are pouring. 

A partially opened faucet leads to foamy beer, so open the faucet fully. Try filling the glass about ¾ of the way while tilted at 45 degrees; for the last ¼ of the pour, tilt the glass straight up for a perfectly delicious beer. 

Also take care not to swirl the glass while pouring. You may get the right look, but it won’t last. The head will quickly disappear, causing the beer to go flat. Try not to let the faucet touch the glass. Beer residue, as well as outside bacteria on the faucet, can contaminate the beer.

Pouring From a Bottle 

Use the same techniques as pouring from a tap. Make sure your beer is as cold as possible before pouring, and start with a glass freshly rinsed with cold water. Tilt the glass 45° and fill it in the same way described above when pouring from a tap, finishing with an inch to an inch and a half of head. Don’t touch the side of the glass to the outside of the bottle to avoid bacteria.  

Pouring from a can

To keep your canned beer from “glugging” into the glass, here’s a tip: Rinse your glass. Open the can and flip the tab back. As you begin to pour, rotate the can in your hand so that the spout will be at a 90 degree angle away from the ground when you begin to pour. Just as when pouring from a bottle, tilt the glass 45 degrees for the first ¾ of the pour. Then, finish with the glass straight up. No glugging—just a smooth, perfect pour.  

As with many things in life, when it comes to pouring beer, the devil is in the details. Master these small but important techniques and enjoy your beer the way the brewer intended!

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