How to Perfectly Pour a Craft Beer
Craft beers are always meant to be enjoyed from a glass, even if they’re getting popped as a bottle. The glassware isn’t the only important factor in providing a craft beer experience for your patrons; the perfect pour is also in order.
Craft beer requires attentiveness to smells, colors, tastes, and mouth-feels, so pouring it wrong can easily affect any one of those selling points. Zach Mack, certified cicerone and cofounder of Alphabet City Beer Co. in NYC, had this to say about the perfect pour:
“I personally think that you’re not getting the full experience when you don’t pour it out. You’re not releasing a lot of the carbonation. You won’t get all the aromas out of the skinny neck of a bottle or a can.”
The perfect pour can be achieved by anyone, as long as you remember a few simple rules:
First and foremost, always make sure the glass is clean. The best way to pour most craft beers, is to hold your glass at a 45° angle, while trickling the beer down the side. Never let the tap or bottle touch the edge of the glass where a customer would put their mouth, as this can contaminate the beer.
When pouring from a draft, it is best to allow the first ounce to flow from the tap, before placing the glass. This is to clear the line of any old beer that may be the wrong temperature. A craft beer poured at the wrong temperature, will not be presented in the way the brewers intended.
Anyone that loves craft beer, knows that a foamy head can be a good thing, depending on the style of beer. Most heads are poured by titling the glass at the half-way point of the pour, to a 90° angle.
Continue the pour in the middle of the glass. You can even move it away as you pour, to encourage a bigger head. The ideal head of a beer is generally 1″- 1 1/2″. The head carries all of the flavor profiles, proteins, and body of the beer. How long it takes to dissipate “retention,” and the residue it leaves “lacing,” are both indictors of a beer’s quality and style.
Most craft beers are all poured the way described above, but there are a few special types of beers that have a slightly different pour.
- Wheat Beer – These craft beers are rich in protein, so they tend to have a larger head on them. They also contain yeast, which should be evenly distributed throughout the beer. You can do this by gently rolling the bottle/can back and forth before opening to pour.
- Bottle-Conditioned Beers – These craft beers are called “bottle-conditioned” because they have natural CO2 built up from adding extra yeast. The opposite of wheat beer, these craft beers should be stored upright. The yeast settled at the bottom, should be kept out of the pour as much as possible. Stop pouring at the neck, and etiquette says to leave the remains with the customer, as some enjoy the taste, just aside from that of their beer.
- Nitrogen Beers – Just like their name, these craft beers are forced with carbonation containing nitrogen, rather than carbon-dioxide. Take everything you know about pours and throw it out the window with this one. A true show-stopper, pour these beers hard, and as upright as possible. Once the head of the beer is done cascading, it is ready to drink.
Make sure you are keeping on top of how to pour any new craft beers, and informing your staff. TapHunter is a great program that allows you to enter any new craft beer in one main dashboard and it will notify all your fans of the recent tap switch. You can also search their database of 40k+ beverages, to help you keep track of the necessary finishes for each beer.