A Three-Part Blog Series Covering the Importance of Beer Foam, Choosing the Appropriate Glassware and How to Properly Pour a Beer
Now that you’re educated in the subjects of the importance of beer foam and how to choose the appropriate glass, it’s time you learn how to properly pour a beer. These three mentioned topics are very closely associated; understanding them collectively will benefit you greatly when choosing, pouring and drinking beer.
The steps below are what we will call the “45°-angle rule”. These are the basics that everyone should know when pouring a pint of beer from a bottle or can. But when it comes to filling a glass from a tap, guidelines tend to generally go beyond the 45°-angle rule. Your approach should depend on the type of beer you are pouring, the amount of head to expect with that beer and the glassware you chose. The goal is to not only experience your beer to its maximum potential, but to also avoid feeling like a bloated beach ball that comes with not allowing the C02 to release in the pour. Remember, this was explained in the first post of this series titled, “The Importance of Beer Foam.” To accomplish a fool-proof pour every time, follow the steps listed below. But, be sure to take note of the tips near the bottom of this post regarding the variations of pouring different types of beer. This will help you know what to expect regarding head formation.
The 45°-Angle Rule
- Always rinse your glass prior to pouring
Any oil or residue will quickly dissipate the carbonation and greatly affect the formation of the head. Remember, cleanliness is godliness when it comes to serving beer. If you are using a plastic cup, make sure it is static-free before pouring. Otherwise, you will end up with too much foam.
- Tilt your glass at a 45° angle
By altering the angle and speed at which you pour, you can take control of how thick the head of beer will be.
- Pull the tap handle so it is open all the way
Only opening the beer tap partially will allow too much foam to pour into your glass.
- Hold your glass about an inch below the facet or bottle; Aim the pour at the midpoint of the side of the glass
This allows for the most surface area for your beer to travel into the glass without over-foaming. Be sure to never allow the faucet to touch your glass when pouring from a tap.
- As you reach the halfway point, tilt the glass upright
This will let the C02 do its work toward creating the perfect head. Remember, you want the CO2 to release in the pour; not in your stomach.
- Pour the rest of the beer from directly into the center, gradually adding distance between the bottle or tap and the glass as you pour.
Once the glass is back at a 90ۜ° angle, pour the remainder of the beer directly into the center from higher up. This will allow more air into the beer and will produce more foam. Generally, you’ll want to finish pouring with a ½ inch to 1 ½ inch of head at the top of your beer.
- Prolong the head
Now that you’ve poured your beer with the perfect amount of head, it’s up to you to maintain it! This can be done by drinking carefully, not taking mouthfuls by sipping from the top of the glass. More importantly, it can be prolonged by having chosen the right type of glass, as explained in blog #2 of this series, titled “How to Choose the Appropriate Glass”. Many glasses are designed to maintain the head as much as possible for certain types of beers.
No matter what style of beer, the ideal measurement of head should be a ½ inch to 1 ½ inch. This all depends on the amount of carbonation the type of beer contains. Beers with more carbonation will have more head than those with less carbonation.
If you are getting too much head on your beer at the beginning of your pour, tilt the glass more to increase the surface area. If there’s too much head at the end of your pour, you’ve poured too quickly or not at enough of an angle. If you find no head at the top of your beer after you’ve poured, you’ve either poured too slowly or at too steep of an angle without tilting the glass upright.
To be sure you’re pouring the beer in the best way possible to create the right amount of head, review the tips on variations (listed below) prior to pouring.
Types and Variations
Ale: You can follow the general rules above for the most part, but with ales, too much head can detract from the flavor of the beer. The way to avoid this is to leave the glass at a 45° angle a little longer before turning the glass up to a 90° angle. Your goal for head on ales should be about a finger-width.
Stout: Stouts always deserve a thick head. Slowly fill your glass until 2/3 full and be sure to pause and let the beer settle. Finish the pour with your glass at 90° by pouring the beer into the center at a much slower rate (if you’re filling your glass through a tap, push the tap handle back a little to decrease the flow speed).
Pilsner: A healthy pilsner head characteristically extends over the lip of the glass. With this type of beer having as much carbonation as it does, a large head can be achieved by not tilting the glass at all, but instead pouring the entire beer right in the center of the glass.
Wheat Beers: Wheat beers (including hefeweizens) have a particularly strong foaming potential. It can sneak up on you, so you must be more attentive when pouring this style of beer. To avoid creating too much head pour extra gently along the side of the glass at a 45° angle. If you find that your beer isn’t forming enough head, tilt it to 90° at the very end of the pour. Wheat beers have a yeasty sediment on the bottom of bottles that needs to be mixed into the beer. To do this, very gently rotate the bottle, bottom end over, a few times before opening. This will loosen the sediment and blend it with the rest of the beer.
This can be a lot of information to take in at once so don’t be discouraged if your first try doesn’t end as well as you thought it would. It will take a couple attempts just to get the hang of the technique. Do not give up; you are bound to be pleased with the results once you have a little practice. Pretty soon you will be coaching your bartender on how to properly pour that beer you ordered. Just remember, the subject of how to properly pour a beer goes is closely related to the other topics covered in this three-part blog series. If you haven’t already, take time to go back and read the first two blog posts titled “The Importance of Beer Foam” and “Choosing the Appropriate Glass”. Understanding the reasoning behind having a good head on your beer and why you should use a certain glass for each type of brew can really help you execute that pour technique! You may even find a new appreciation for beer altogether. Above all, enjoy yourself and always remember to drink responsibly! Cheers!
Written By: Aubree Winkles, Stein Employee