How to Pour the Perfect Draft Beer
Posted on February 25, 2014
Draft beer may seem like one of the simpler, less flashy aspects of service in the bar. However, people are typically aware of how their drinks are poured, and they pay attention to whatever there is to see. Pouring a beer involves a degree of presentation, and the method of pouring can affect the drinker’s experience. Not only that, but how a bartender pours a beer can affect the overall taste and consistency of the beer. Consider these tips for pouring the perfect draft beer.
Pouring the Perfect Draft
Pouring a beer from a draft system seems simple. And really, it should be simple. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when actually pouring the beer.
Start with a Clean Glass
Using clean glasses may seem like a no-brainer. But, busy nights can wear down even the experienced bartender, and leftover residue can ruin the customer’s experience. Then there’s the other culprit—the low-temperature dishwasher. Glassware washed in a low-temp machine is sanitized with chemicals rather than high heat. This type of sanitization process does not always remove lipstick and fingerprints as well as high heat. What’s more, it can leave chlorine deposits on the glass that will kill the beer’s foamy head. The take-home message here is to make sure your bar glassware is always rinsed completely clean, and use a high-temp dishwasher if you use one at all.
Hold the Glass at an Angle
When pouring a beer, either from the tap or from a bottle or can, hold the glass at an angle—experts suggest about a 45 degree angle. Open the tap quickly and fully, allowing the beer to flow freely. The beer should hit the middle of the glass, allowing the beer to slide down to the bottom. This prevents too much head from developing too quickly. Once you get about half to 2/3 of the way full of beer, straighten the glass out and hold it upright.
Look for the Right Amount of Foam
A little head on a beer is a good thing. It can help the beer drinker notice the flavors and aromas as he or she takes the first sip. You should aim for about a half inch of head in a pint glass. A little more is fine for a different type of glass. By adding distance between the tap and the glass, you can help create more of a foamy head.
Achieving the Perfect Taste
Pouring the beer the right way, as described above, can bring out the best in presentation and appearance of a beer. However, the right amount of head and the proper technique can actually make the beer taste better. Here are a few more tips on pouring for the right taste.
Take Your Time
Some beers require more time for the perfect pour. Guinness is the prime example. Guinness experts suggest using the two-part pour or double-pour method for this thick and nitrogenous stout. Pouring the beer about 2/3 of the way up the glass and then waiting a good 30 seconds or more helps the nitrogen bubbles in the beer settle. Guinness enthusiasts swear that the double pour brings out the perfect amount of head and the best tasting Guinness. This is how they do it in Dublin; it’s best to follow suit.
Keep the Dispenser Faucet out of the Beer
Dunking the faucet of the tap into the beer as it fills is severely frowned upon. Some bartenders use this as a means to avoid excess foam. This is a major taboo since the mouth of the faucet could be carrying yeast or bacteria on the outside or underside of the metal faucet, and dunking this faucet into beer is unsanitary. Not only that; it’s unprofessional. This is the wrong way to solve the problem of foamy beer.
Assess the Final Product
Before you serve the beer, take a look. Does it have the right amount of head? Is it the right color? Does it smell like a good beer should? If anything looks or smells off about the beer, there may be an underlying problem with the tap system or the beer itself, and it will be worth your while to investigate.
Pouring the perfect draft beer requires attention to detail and consistency with every order. Even during busy nights, take the time to care for each beer as though it were poured for you. This, coupled with a healthy draft system, will give you the perfect pour every time—something your customers will recognize and appreciate.
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