I’m sure that we all remember one of the most important lessons we learned in college, how to pour beer into a cup. I’m sure for most of us, this was pouring Bud Light in a can into a plastic cup, or perhaps Natty Light from a keg into a solo cup. What was the most important technique in pouring a beer that we learned? POUR IT DOWN THE SIDE OF THE CUP. Well, I’m here to dispel that practice and let you know there is a better way.
Now that we’re all grown up and drink more sophisticated beers, like Michelob Ultra, I find that many people still pour their beers with the “down the side” method. (Check out this article if you want a super-sciency reason why beer foams less when you pour down the side.) The reason we all do this is to minimize the head on the beer once it has been poured into the glass. Did you know that head on a beer, in moderation, is not a bad thing? In fact, it is beneficial!
Because of the gases that remain trapped in the head, much of the aroma of a beer is captured there. And as you may have heard, most of our sense of taste is actually derived from our sense of smell. So, if you can smell the beer better, you can taste the beer better. And if you’re drinking a good beer that you just paid $5 for, don’t you want it to taste as good as possible?
There are also aspects of mouthfeel and oxidation that head can help with, but we’re not going to go into that much detail. After all, this is meant to be instructional, not a science lesson.
Anyway, now that we’ve explained why you should pour your beer perfectly, we’ll explain how you pour your beer perfectly. There are three aspects to the perfect pour:
- a clean glass
- pour down the center of the glass, aiming for the center of the bottom, like a bullseye
- patience (don’t pour too fast or your head will overflow)
If you are pouring a 12 oz. beer into a pint glass, the goal is to get the head up to the rim of the glass by the time you have poured all of the beer. It’s really a wonderful feeling of accomplishment when you pour it perfectly. I’ve included an instructional video to aid you in your quest for the perfect pour. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t get discouraged if your first few beers end up mostly foam and all over your table. Enjoy, and cheers!