When heaven on earth becomes hell: no beer could ever deserve this

I’m sitting in my favourite tavern, and nonetheless I’m feeling somehow a mite dissatisfied. A fresh beer has just been brought to my table, I’m surrounded by friends, and the familiar faces of the regulars, and the TV in the corner is showing the Friday evening Premier League match. And nevertheless I can feel an attack of grumpiness approaching when I look at the lager in front of me. Because this is a fate that no beer could ever, ever deserve. Foam is meanwhile conspicuous by its absence – the word “head” would be totally inapposite here – and nonetheless the golden-yellow liquid doesn’t even get close to the calibration mark. It looks dejected, this poorly poured lager. What I would really like to do is get up, go to the bar and explain to what’s seemingly a tyro barkeeper how to handle a tap properly. From a distance, I watch him juggling glasses and bottles with a visible effort, and creating veritable inundations behind the counter.

And yet: pouring a beer is not really an insurmountable problem. But because it’s seemingly (even in Bavaria) not in fact a universally shared basic skill, I’ll attempt here to provide some helpful hints.

Exercise No. 1: pouring beer from a bottle

This is particularly relevant when you’re pouring a wheat beer.

You need:

  • a bottle of beer (wheat beer, for example)
  • a suitable (!) glass
  • a bottle-opener

Rinse the glass: the wheat-beer glass has to be clean. Properly, thoroughly clean. So directly before you fill it, it’s best to rinse the glass once again with cold clear water, so that a nice-looking head can form afterwards.

Hold the glass tilted: while you hold the glass at an angle of approximately 45°, upend the bottle into it.

Allow the beer to run along the sides of the glass: then raise the bottle of wheat beer slowly inside the glass so that it’s always just a little bit above the beer level. It’s best to allow the beer to flow along the sides of the glass, then it won’t foam as much. At the same time (careful: fine-tune your coordination)!) slowly return the glass to an upright position. Foam will now gradually start to collect.

Swirl the yeast: in the case of wheat beer, swirl the last swallow inside the bottle, so as to detach the yeast from the bottom of the bottle.

Top it off with a nice head: use the final beer from the bottle to place a head on top.

That wasn’t so difficult, was it? Well, then, now it’s time for the second exercise:

Exercise No. 2: pouring a draught beer

This is even easier, and with only a few beer-specific differences.

You need:

  • an operational beer tapping system
  • an already-tapped barrel containing the beer of your choice
  • a suitable (!) glass

Rinse the glass: here, too, the glass should be as clean as possible and freshly rinsed with cold water.

Hold the glass tilted: hold the glass under the tap at an angle of about 45°.

Allow the beer to run along the sides of the glass: pull the tap fully forward and allow the beer to run along the sides of the glass. While you’re doing this, intuitively move the glass gradually to an upright position, otherwise the good hop juice will sooner or later gush out of the glass like a waterfall.

Regulate the beer flow: if the beer is spurting out of the tap in a rush of foam or is just quietly dripping out of it, it’s time to intervene. You adjust the beer’s flow velocity directly at the tap until you’ve reached the golden mean.

Top it off with a nice head: shortly before the calibration mark is reached, you have to complete the head. To do this, lower the glass slightly (away from the tap). Since the beer is travelling a greater distance, more foam will now be collecting in the glass – but be careful: you need a bit of practice here, because the head will still be “growing” even when the beer has stopped cascading into the glass. So it’s better to be cautious at first and then readjust if necessary.

Pouring Video

And now it’s accomplished – a properly poured beer ready to quaff, savour and relish.


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