There is an art to pouring the perfect pint of beer. The angle of the pour, amount of foam allowed and even the temperature of the glass all effect the quality of the beer as it settles. Unfortunately, many of us don’t know how to pour the perfect pint. So getting things right is paramount. Drinking beer from a properly formed glass improves the tasting experience, allowing all of the aromas and flavours to emerge in perfect unison.
To help us is Stephen Rich, head brewer at the Beer Academy of Toronto, Ontario, certified Cicerone, Prud’homme Beer Sommelier and Beer Judge Certification Program judge. He has imparted to us the tricks to pouring a good brew.
Pick the appropriate glassware for the beer style you are enjoying.
Always start with a clean glass at room temperature.
Never store glasses in a freezer.
Rinse the inside of the glass with cold water to reduce surface tension, then let water drain from glass.
Open the bottle of beer at the optimal serving temperature for that specific beer style.
Lift the glass with one hand, and tilt slightly to a 30 degree angle.
With the other hand, begin pouring the beer down the wall of the glass, gently, with no glugging.
When the bottom third of the glass is filled, tilt the glass upright and continue pouring the beer right into itself rather than along the wall.
From half-filled to fully, increase/adjust the rate of pour to create the desired amount of foam without glugging.
When the bottle is empty, watch the foam settle to a dense cap; admire, and enjoy.
These tips are mainly for your basic beers from a bottle or pitcher. Specialty beers like Wheat, Stout or Belgian Ales all require their own distinctive pour in order to take full advantage of the unique production methods associated with these styles.
“Consult a beer or brewing professional for best practices,” advises Rich.
Practice your new pouring technique and, once you've perfected it, host your own beer tasting (see page 46 of the May - June 2014 issue)!
A Visual Guide to the Perfect Glass
IIn the wide world of beer, there are many different types, makes and brands. Branching out from your favourites can be overwhelming… it’s just a matter of figuring out where to start. This easy, simple run down of the different styles of beer is the road map you’ve been waiting for.
All Ales are made with top-fermenting ale yeasts at warm temperatures (12 to 21 degrees Celsius). This produces robust, fruity and aromatic beers; many are complex and pronounced. Serve at 7 to 12 degrees Celsius.
Different types of Ales include:
British Pale Ale
North American Pale Ale
India Pale Ale
All Lagers are made with bottom-fermenting yeasts at cold temperatures. This produces lighter-tasting, highly carbonated, crisp, smooth and mellow beers with subtle, clean and balanced taste and aroma. Serve at 3 to 7 degrees Celsius.
Different types of Lagers include:
North American Light Lager
North American Lager
European Style Lager (aka Pilsner)
Strong Lager – Bock, Malt liquor, Oktoberfestbier/Marzen
Wheat beers are made with a lot of wheat malt. The two most popular are German Wheat – 50% wheat malt and 50% barley malt – and Belgian Wheat – flavoured with coriander and orange peel. Wheat beers can technically be considered Ales because they’re made with top-fermenting yeast.
Pouring wheat beers has an important twist to the usual technique – you pour half into the glass, then shake up the bottle to mix the yeast with the beer; top off the glass with this yeast-filled liquid.
Different types of wheat beers include:
Sour beers – Berliner Weisse, gose and lambic
Now that you can pour a great glass of beer and know a little about what you’re putting in that glass, let’s go to the experts for their reviews of the classics.
Great Lakes Brewery Crazy Canuck Pale Ale, Ontario
Blond in colour with citrus, yeasty and malty aromas, and a lightly hoppy scent. More flavourful than the rather mild aromas would suggest, showing robust fruity malt, good body and surprisingly hoppy bitterness on the finish. (SW)
This milk chocolate-tasting brew sets the bar for milk stouts worldwide. It is a stunner of a beer: a full-bodied stout sweetened with lactose and caramel, it has the creaminess and airy bubbles of an ice cream float with milk-chocolate notes that fade into a drier, dark chocolate finish. So yummy! (CL)
Innis & Gunn Lager, Scotland
With the introduction of its lager, I&G breaks from its tradition of bottling cask-aged brews to offer a lighter, more approachable style with (perhaps) a more universal appeal. Based on the traditional German Helles style of lager first brewed in the 1800s, it delivers clean, slightly malty, mildly fruity (banana?) aromas, and a crisp palate that nicely balances the hop/malt components. (TS)
Relatively mild nutty malt and light yeasty aromas give way to fruity-sweet citrus, apple and mild malt flavours, finishing with subtle, light yeasty bitterness. Though slightly reminiscent of wheat beer, the style is pleasing in its own right. (SW)
Muskoka Brewery Spring Oddity, Ontario
A Belgian-style spritzy golden brew spiced with juniper berries, heather and orange peel, it packs a fruity, floral punch and a long, gin-like finish, all supported by a full, boozy base. The beer’s herbaceous quality makes this a great accompaniment to fresh asparagus or fiddlehead. (CL)
Brasserie Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic, Brussels
This Cantillon is made from a blend of lambics (up to 3 years old) and sour cherries. The result is a bright pink, very dry, puckering brew with a funky, sour complexity – barnyard, lemon peel, must and hints of cherry. It’s a stunner of a beer, well worth seeking out. (CL)
For more tasting notes from these experts and more, visit The Notes.
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How to Pour the Perfect Glass of Beer first appeared in Quench Magazine - July/August 2014.
Photography and media provided by:
- Stephen Rich video provided by TheRyersonian via youtube.com
- Beer Tasting notes originally published in various issues of Quench Magazine.