I’ve decided to write something a little different for this week’s blog.
Rather than a review (don’t worry, I’m not sworn off it), I thought I’d do a piece on pouring beer.
Until recently, I hadn’t considered the various ways that this should be done. I thought of it as having two options: Guinness and everything else. I learned how to pour a pint when I was a barman, aged 18, but it wasn’t exactly in a high quality ale establishment and, so long as the head was roughly the right size and it didn’t taste of vinegar, all was well in the world.
However, with a box of various beers that was delivered to me last year, a gift from my brother, purchased through Beerhawk, came a pouring guide, from which I will, hopefully, pass on some great tips.
It seems there are different ways to pour ale, stout, pilsner and wheat beer, from the bottle, to get the best from each style.
Beerhawk tell us that there are roughly three stages to each of the four styles. So, let’s start with ale. The first stage with ale is to tilt the glass at 45 degrees and gently pour, before moving on to stage two, slowly straightening the glass to control the head at around a finger’s width. The trick in the final stage is just to keep the head from getting too creamy, to stop the hops getting in and affecting the taste.
That is probably closest to how I was taught and how most people will pour their beer. It almost seems like second nature.
Stout is a little closer to the “Guinness method” and is a slower process, best done in two stages, to stop the head getting too big. Now, from a bottle, the head is clearly not going to get as creamy as it would from draught, or from a can with a widget. However, it still requires care.
Patience is key as you again tilt the glass at around 45 degrees, and slowly start to pour. Give it a break to settle at half way, maybe two thirds, then start again. But remember – patience!
Now pilsner requires a “blossoming” head, say Beerhawk, and should “froth over the top of the glass to give you a better sniff”. They don’t say “go hog wild and just pour away freely” – after all, judging by the fact that you bought it and are pouring it for yourself, you like the drink, so you want some to be left. You can relax a bit on the 45 degree tilt, though, and let the bubbles flow. Just make sure you leave some in the glass.
Finally, wheat beer has its own little quirks. Again, like pilsner, it likes a bigger head, but do pour gently and slowly, so the froth isn’t premature. The trick with wheat beer is to get the yeast out of the bottle and into the glass. Swill the final bits in the bottle to loosen the yeast and then pour into the glass.
Above all, enjoy, experiment and love beer for its diversity. I’m still enjoying the beers from Beerhawk, so I’d certainly recommend you check it out if you want to explore what’s available.
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I’m 44, I don’t (always) have a beard (partly because when I try it is patchy, has gaps, with ginger and grey bits) and don’t take a clipboard to the pub. So, I’m not the stereotypical real ale fan of old, in the style that I was always told to look out for...read more