Serving the Perfect Beer
Contributed by Roger Mittag
The temperature of the beer, the type of glass, the proper pour and the right amount of foam all contribute to highlighting the distinct characteristics of the beer you’re serving or drinking.
As Canadians are becoming more and more familiar with the variety of beer styles available to them, the different flavours they offer and the appropriate foods to pair them with, serving a beer properly is still not always top of mind.
Serving a beer the right way can lead to an enhanced tasting experience. Try my advice and see if your next beer tastes better.
Pouring beer from a bottle or can to a glass is a crucial step to enjoy the beer the way the brewer intended. Avoid very cold or frozen glasses, as aromas cannot exit the liquid at such low temperatures.
Make sure the glass is clean and free of any soap residue. Residue can lead to poor foaming. Ideally the glass should be rinsed with cold water immediately prior to pouring.
Here's a tip: to test the cleanliness of your beer glasses, dip them in clear water and turn them upside-down to drain. If the glass is clean, the water will sheet off the inside of the glass. If the glass shows droplets of water or streaks inside, it means there is still some residue left inside the glass. This in turn will cause the CO2 to cling to the inside of the glass and cause your beer to go flat.
Pouring beer from a bottle is a key skill. Hold the bottle and glass almost horizontally when you start pouring. Tilt the glass and begin pouring the beer down the side. This helps keep the carbon dioxide in the glass and maintains flavour.
When the bottle is half poured, straighten the glass and pour into the centre of the glass until the foam nears the top of the glass. Leave just enough space for the foam to rise to the lip of the glass.
The right amount of foam is important. Apart from making the beer look more appetizing, foam provides a natural cap for carbonation, ensuring that it remains fresh for as long as possible. It also helps to trap aromas.
Where possible glasses should be handled by the stem rather than the rim.
Suggested serving temperatures vary slightly for different beer types. Thirst quenching styles like lagers and pilsners are best served at 2-5°C. Robust styles like brown ales, porters and stouts can be served between 7-12°C.
Remember, these are only suggestions. You may find that drinking the same beer at two different temperatures brings out different flavours – so feel free to experiment.
Finally, the style of glass depends on the strength of the beer.
Ales can be poured into a pint or shaker glass. More bitter beers, or those with higher alcohol flavours may be more appropriate in smaller glasses that will capture the aroma. Pilsners are better served in flutes, which are often tall and shaped like a cone in order to create some foam and trap the aromas further.
Try this at home: Take a sip from your bottle and take note of how it tastes. Then pour the beer into a glass with a good inch to two inches of foam. Smell it, savour it and notice if it is smoother and easier to drink.
- The Perfect Pour infographic