Beer is beer, right? Just pop open the bottle and take a drink! Or dump it in a glass if you’re feeling refined. No matter how you drink it or pour it, you’ll enjoy it just fine, thank you very much.
Not so fast.
The World of Beer is governed by Beer Laws that dictate proper ways of pouring to ensure you’re enjoying each beverage at its best. And why wouldn’t you want to? A lot of care goes into brewing each batch, and the right pour is a continuation of that care.
So before you pour your beer into the wrong glass at the wrong time at the wrong temperature, and definitely before you drop an ice cube in it (the horror!) because you don’t want to take the time to let it chill, take a look at some of the guidelines that will give you a better glass of beer every time.
To Tilt or Not to Tilt?
- Tilt the glass to 45 degrees.
- Pour the beer, whether from bottle, can, or tap, aiming for the middle of the side of the glass.
- When the glass is half full, tilt it upright, maintaining your aim at the center.
You want 1-1.5″ of head (foam) on the top of the glass. (Too much more than that, and a nearby Beer Snob might make fun of you.)
Mind the Weather
“Cold” isn’t descriptive enough when describing the right temperature for a beer. Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine says, “When in doubt remember this rule of thumb: light body and low alcohol beer tastes better cold while full body and high alcohol examples are better warmer.” They offer the following temperature guidelines:
35–40°F (2–4°C): Mass market light lagers
40–45°F (4–7°C): Czech and German Pilsners, Munich Helles, wheat beers, and Kölsch
45–50°F (7–10°C): IPAs, American pale ales, porters, and most stouts
50–55°F (10–13°C): Belgian ales, sour ales, Bocks, English bitters and milds, Scottish ales
55–60°F (13–16°C): Barleywines, imperial stouts, Belgian strong ales, and Doppelbocks
Craft Beer Restaurant varies ever-so-slightly in their temperature recommendations, saying “cold” is appropriate for light beers, but it shouldn’t be below 41°F. Most craft beers can be “chilled” at no lower than 46°F, while rich-flavored beers with higher alcohol content can be served at “cellar” temperature, which is about 53°F.
The Glass: Wet or Dry? Cold or Warm?
This is a mostly a matter of preference. Rinsing the glass before pouring the beer may help you control the head if you have an especially foam-happy beer on your hands. Some people are concerned that the water left in the glass is too much, and it waters down the beer. As a solution to that, you can let it drain for a moment or give it a good shake, then you get, perhaps, the best of both worlds.
A cold or frosted glass is also a matter of preference in most cases. Some bars do it and some don’t; some people like it and some don’t.
The Glass: Size and Shape
In general, stronger beers are served in smaller glasses. As for shape:
“Usually the shape of the glass will highlight the defining feature of the beer that should go in it. With wheat beer glasses, for example, the tall, thin, lower portion of the glass highlights the striking color of the beer, while the bulbous top portion leaves plenty of room for a large fluffy head of foam. The overall size of the glass also makes it easy to drink large, thirst-quenching sips.”
Read more about specific glasses at Craft Beer Temple.
Special Considerations: Guinness
Guinness plays by its own rules, which are as follows when it comes to pouring:
- Select a dry, 20-ounce glass that is tulip-shaped.
- Tilt the glass away from you at 45 degrees, and pull the tap toward you.
- Pour until it touches the bottom edge of the tulip.
- Let it sit until you see a clear line between beer and head. Seriously, don’t touch it until that distinction is clear.
- Hold the glass level and push the tap away from you, aiming for the center of the head. Pour until the top of the head is a half-millimeter away from the top of the glass. (Skip the measuring stick, you’ll have to eyeball it.)
Visit us at 571 Grill & Draft House for a perfect pour every time. Contact us to learn more about our beers or to chat us up about frosted vs. unfrosted glasses.