Let me preface why I am writing this article. A little while ago my wife and I found a babysitter for our five children and decided to meet some friends for dinner. Since we only go out a handful of times throughout the year we chose a slightly upscale four star jazz restaurant that I had heard had a good beer selection.
Upon opening the menu, I realized that while the dig offered over a hundred martinis, the best brew I could order was a Stone Pale Ale. What a let down! Not that there is anything wrong with a Stone Pale Ale (it is quite refreshing!), just on this rare outing I was hoping to have my mind blown by the selection and order something elusive.
After ordering the beer, the waiter dropped the bottles off at the table. No glass. I asked him for a glass and he returned with two pint glasses and a look of irritation. I looked over, and horror of all horrors, the guy was slaughtering the pour on my wife’s ale, gently caressing the flowing of the beer along the edge of the glass, so that when he was finished, there was absolutely no head in the glass. It looked like Kool Aid.
He grabbed my glass and hastily, and without thinking, snatched it back and said, “I prefer to pour my own.” My wife and buddy at the table gave me an odd look, so I quickly explained that the waiter had poured the beer incorrectly, and that I like to pour my beer so as to achieve a certain result. Unfortunately I didn’t realize the waiter was right behind me. While I meant no harm, he took offense and gave me horrible service the rest of the night and even rejected my coupon. (Yes, I went to a fancy restaurant with a coupon).
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, how should you pour a beer? My experience behooves a response.
While this subject is open to opinion and preference, I think the average beer geek would agree that a formidable one inch head is a desirable trait, as it unleashes the aroma of the beer, which in turn enhances the flavor. There is a rampant myth out there that our waiter’s pour is the desired pour, and a big head is a nuisance.
In the video at the end of this clip, I’ll demonstrate how to pour a Stone Pale Ale into a pint glass. I must insert, that this method, while representative of the majority of the beers bought and consumed is not a one size fit all glove. Imagine pouring a sugary and highly carbonated beer into warm pint glass using the method below! Beer and froth would quickly over flow the glass.
Pouring a beer requires adaptation and observance of what is happening inside the glass so that a desired level of head remains after the pour. You won’t always get a good, as the style of beer may inhibit it. Bell’s Expedition Extra Stout comes to mind. The less carbonated a beer, the less prone to head formation a beer is, typically.
If the beer is foaming out of control, slow your beer or take a break. If the beer is putting up a fight and refusing head formation, lift up the bottle and aim the stream toward the center.
This is how I pour a beer. It may not be the only way, but I think it’s a great method. Enjoy the quick video below: