Beer Break

Beer Break Vol. 2, No. 10
How to pour a beer

Dec. 13, 2001

It may sound unlikely, but pouring a beer can be controversial. Some would advocate pouring it directly in the middle of the glass, throwing off a great deal of head and releasing all the C02 possible. Others would have you pour it gently down the side of a glass, leaving almost no head.


We defer to these tips from Michael Jackson in his book "Ultimate Beer."

Pouring an ale
* A gentle, steady pour down the side of the tilted glass will stop the beer from foaming excessively.
* b) Steepen the angle and pour more directly to avoid the beer being too flat. Aim for one "finger" of foam.
c) Too much creaminess will rob the beer of its appetizingly bitter character. The hop oils will migrate from the beer itself and hide in the head.

Pouring a stout
* Pour stout slowly, to allow the head to develop. If it grows too quickly, stop for moment.
* A two-staged pour will make for a denser, creamier, more solid head, which will suit the coffeeish flavors of the stout.
* A bottled stout will have a rockier, less rich head and a more natural flavor than the "draft" versions containing a "widget" (nitrogen capsule).

Pouring a pilsner
* Bottles may take less than seven minutes prescribed for a draft, but a real pilsner must have a blossoming head.
* A soft, sustained carbonation further enlivens the golden color with a consistent rise of small bubbles (known as the "bead").
* The head should rise, almost like a soft ice cream, above the rim of the glass. This brings forward the hop aroma and holds back bitterness to the finish.

Pouring a wheat beer
* Beers containing yeast have high carbonation, so an especially gentle pour is required. The Belgians wet the glass to control the head.
* In Bavaria, wheat beer is typically served with a huge head, especially if it is a bottle-conditioned example. Some yeast is included in the pour.
* If the beer is deemed insufficiently cloudy, the last few drops may be rolled in the bottle to loosen the remaining yeast sediment. This is then added to the glass.

For information about "Ultimate Beer" and other books by Jackson:

Tasting notes
Brewed by the Huyghe Brewery in Belgium

From the Celebrator Beer News Blind Tasting Panel:

This beer will have you seeing pink elephants in no time. The nose includes hints of baked apples, sweet malt and spicy citrus. Creamy, chewy, warm, rich flavors with a long, lingering finish; this strong beer is surprisingly well-balanced with pleasant cherry wood notes. A good beer to enjoy with a spicy cigar.

Brewed by Rio Grande Brewing in New Mexico

Real Beer tasting notes:

The 2001 edition pours a deep reddish brown. Malty, nose-filling aroma. Rich, full flavor, toffeeish, maybe a bit of chocolate. Warm and alcoholic. This is at least a doppelbock, if not more. The monks of St. Francis of Paula first brewed doppelbock to sustain them during Lent. This beer tastes big enough to last you from Christmas until Lent.