How to

Jim Attacap

Here are some guidelines to help you pour a better beer.  A good beer deserves it
and you will actually add to the beer's flavor.

Lets start with some general basics that apply to most but not all beers:

Angle the beer glass.  Tilt that glass about 45 degrees.

Gently pour your beer down the side of the glass, aiming for about the halfway point
of the glass.  When slightly more than half of the beer is poured, make the glass
perfectly vertical again and pour the remainder directly into your beer to create a
nice head.  A good head should be somewhere between a finger-width and 1.5
inches tall.  Optimal head size depends on the beer.  The head is important since
many beers require the head to reveal their aromatic and flavorful character.

Now let's get a tad more specific.

For ales- follow the general rules, but  pour a little longer along the side of the glass
while tilting it.  Your goal should be a head that measures about a finger-width.  Too
much head means that you lose some of the ale’s characteristic bitter or hoppy

For hefeweizen- this brew has strong foaming potential which means that you should
pour extra gently along the side of the glass.  You don’t have to straighten the glass
halfway through your pour.  If any straightening is necessary for your head, you
could do it at the very end.  

For stouts - this beer deserves a thing head.   Watch how a  Guinness on tap is
poured at a good bar and just do the same.   The bartender slowly fills your beer
glass halfway while titled at 45 degrees, and then lets the beer settle a bit before
finishing the pour.  

For pilsners - merely pour straight down into a vertical glass in order to achieve a
healthy head, which characteristically extends over the lip of the glass.

Beer with residue at the bottom of the bottle -  If you look at the bottom of some
beers, you’ll see yeasty sediment that has settled to the bottom of your bottle.  In
some cases, you should leave this sediment out of your glass, pouring gently so as
not to agitate it.  Bottle-conditioned beers are famous for the sediment at the bottom.  
Some people don’t mind drinking it, but many feel that this yeasty sediment should be
kept out of the beer in order to allow more delicate flavors to come forth.

But for other beers (such as hefeweizen and unfiltered Belgian whites), this
sedimentary component can hold some pretty important flavor for the beer.  In these
cases, you should actually adjust your pour to include as much sediment as
possible.  Pour almost all of the bottle’s contents gently, leaving only a couple
ounces in the bottle.  Then swirl the contents of the bottle in a circular motion, tilting
the bottle slightly, to loosen all of the sediment and blend it with the remaining frothy
liquid.  Then pour these flavorful last ounces into your glass and enjoy!

Pouring into the right glass.  It's almost as important as the pour.  Beer glasses are
designed to aid in the full appreciation of different beers.  Because a stout and a
hefeweizen are very different, for example, they fare better in very different glasses.  
(editor- that will be the subject of an upcoming Special Report.  For another take on
glassware check out
The Saga Of The Blue Glass

Be aware of the importance of cleanliness.  Dust, grime and oils can interfere with the
flavor of a beer, and can  disrupt carbonation and the production of a good head.  
Always pour your beer into a clean glass.  If you’re worried that the head will be too
large, wet the inside of your glass prior to pouring the beer.

Enjoy and Cheers! - SPECIAL REPORT
How to Taste Beer