How to Pour a Beer From Bottles, Cans & Taps

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Perfectly pouring a pint requires skill. Do it improperly, and you’ll end up with a glass of foam or flat beer that fails to satisfy. Pouring the ideal beer allows full aroma and flavour to emerge while producing that picture-perfect frothy head we all love. 

This guide gives you practical tips on how to pour a beer and breaks down the science behind it. You’ll discover the right glassware for different brews, pouring angles and speeds for ultimate taste, and how to coax the best head. Follow our simple techniques to draw out the complex flavours within and impress friends with your bartending prowess. Now let’s dive into creating the perfect pint.

Table of Contents

Choosing the Right Glass

When pouring a pint, the glass you choose can tremendously impact the drinking experience. Beyond aesthetics, the shape, size and material of beer glassware affect the aroma, flavour, and mouthfeel of your brew. While pubs typically serve ales and lagers in pint glasses, certain styles benefit from specific glassware to unlock their full potential.

An Overview of Beer Glass Types

  • Pint glasses remain the quintessential vessel for sessionable beers like bitters, pale ales and IPAs. Their slender, cylindrical shape allows you to appreciate the colour and carbonation while maintaining a frothy head.
  • For more robust, malty beers like stouts and porters, tulip glasses or snifters better highlight the complex aroma and flavour. The rounded bowl captures the head to release malt and roast notes as you drink.
  • IPAs shine in tulip glasses as well, the inward taper concentrating hoppy aromatics. Belgian ales similarly suit this style. When dealing with bottle-conditioned beers, the narrow top traps the bubbles while providing room for a healthy foam stand.
  • For wheat beers, the iconic weizen glass directs banana and clove esters towards your nose.
  • Delicate Belgian lambics require a stemmed tulip glass to truly savor their funky Brettanomyces character.

While glass shape plays an important role, also consider thickness. Thinner glasses retain less heat, keeping lagers and low-ABV session beers cooler for longer on hot days, resulting in a crisp, refreshing pour.

How to Pour Beer from a Bottle

1. Examine Bottle Sediment

Before opening, check the bottle for any sediment accumulation at the bottom which can cloud your beer if agitated. If visible, make a mental note to pour gently. Some beers feature natural residue while others may indicate an old bottle.

2. Open and Hold at 45 Degree Angle

Using an opener, remove the bottle cap. Tilt the bottle to a 45 degree angle, keeping it upright rather than on its side. Position it 1-2 inches above the angled glass. The tilt prevents excess foaming upon pouring.

3. Pour Gently Down the Glass Side

Pour slowly and gently to minimize foam and rouse sediment – focusing the stream down the glass side rather than directly into the liquid. Gradually straighten the bottle as the glass fills, preventing sediment pour.

4. Assess Foam and Stop Mid-Way

About halfway, stop pouring to assess foam development. Wait for the foam to settle before topping up the glass to your desired level. This produces a good frothy head without overflow.

5. Final Head Adjustment & Serving

Allow foam to subside to preferred height – around 1 inch thick. Gently tip the glass upright and serve immediately at optimum temperature, taking care not to disturb settled yeasts. Enjoy your freshly poured bottled brew!

How to Pour Beer from a Can

Cans make portable, economical vessels for beer. But pouring from aluminium cans into a pint glass demands care to produce a proper head and avoid excess foaming.

1. Open Can and Let Settle

Use a can opener near the rim so beer doesn’t spray out. Let the can stand 1 minute after cracking it open – this lets the foam subside so you can pour smoothly.

2. Tilt Glass at 45 Degrees

Tilt your glass at a 45-degree angle about 1 inch from the can opening. This angle optimizes foam production and prevents splashing during pouring.

3. Pour Down the Glass Side

Pour gently, directing the stream down the glass side rather than straight into the liquid. Tilt the can gradually upright as the glass fills to maintain the angled pour. This produces smaller bubbles for a nice frothy head.

4. Assess Foam and Stop Mid-Way

Stop pouring when the glass is half full. Let the foam settle before topping up to your desired level. Leaving ample room prevents overflow as the head expands.

5. Allow Foam to Settle

Gently tilt your glass upright and give the beer 1-2 minutes for the foam to settle at about 1 inch thick. Enjoy your perfectly poured pint.

Following this method ensures you get the most flavour and aroma out of canned craft beers like IPAs and pilsners. So grab a cold one and pour with confidence into your favourite glassware.

How to Pour Beer from a Tap

1. Get Familiar with the Draft System

When approaching an unfamiliar bar tap, take a moment to understand the draft system. Identify the tap handle that dispenses your desired beer and make sure you know how to operate the faucet lever. Modern draft towers feature flowing CO2 to push beer from the keg, through the lines, and out the faucet.

2. Start Pouring and Watch Foam Development

Grip the pint glass at 45 degrees an inch below the tap faucet. Pull the tap handle smoothly and halfway open to start an angled, gentle pour. Tilting the glass gradually upright as it fills. Monitor foam production – stop pouring momentarily if it threatens to overflow.

3. Top Up and Settle Foam

With the glass nearly full, allow the foam to settle before topping up to your desired level. Give the beer 1-2 minutes for bubbles to subside, then serve. Resist tilting the settled pint to avoid rousing yeast sediment from the keg during your first few sips.

Common Pouring Mistakes

When pouring a beer, a few simple errors can drastically impact the final product in your glass. Avoid these common mistakes for optimum refreshment.

Pouring Too Quickly

Opening the tap or bottle at full blast creates excess foam and cuts short the pour. The rapid stream injects too much air into the solution, generating a fluffy overflow while leaving you with a half-pint. Instead, start smooth and gentle, assessing froth development before topping up.

Glassware Contamination

Even minor residues in your glassware risk flattening or spoiling your ale. Oils from wiping leave soap scum while water droplets dilute that first sip. Ensure glasses are beer-clean before pulling a pint. For bottled beers, even fingerprints on the inside of the glass can weaken the cascade and cap your frothy ambitions.

Serving Temperature Extreme

Draught beer lines and cool cellar temperatures give pub beer an inherent chill (learn more in our guide How to store beer). But frigid lagers straight from the fridge risk numbing your tastebuds. Likewise, neglected warm beer destroys refreshing carbonation. Before imbibing, confirm your brew sits around 3-7°C for ales or 7-13°C for lagers – cold enough to cool, not freeze your mouth.

Avoiding these amateur errors lets you professionalize your pour and unlock the aromatic bouquet within your beer. Keep it smooth, clean, and cool when tapping the tap or popping the cap.

Wrap Up

The glassware you use to serve beer directly impacts the drinking experience. Shape, size, thickness and material affect aroma, flavour, mouthfeel and presentation. Specialized glasses like tulips and weizen better capture the complex qualities of certain styles. Proper pouring also matters – gently angling the bottle prevents excess foaming. Even seemingly simple tasks like pouring a pint demand care and attention to elevate the beer. Respect the brew by choosing a vessel fit for a king.

How to Pour a Beer: FAQs

What is the proper way to pour a beer?

Hold the glass at a 45-degree angle, pouring down the side until the glass is half full. Let the foam settle, then pour down the middle to fill up, leaving a 1-2 finger width head. The pour should be smooth to avoid excess foam.

Should you pour beer with foam?

Yes, some foam is desirable when pouring a beer. Pour smoothly down the side to minimize foam. Let it settle before finishing the pour. The ideal is a 1-2 finger width creamy foam head that lasts while you drink.

How do you pour beer for dummies?

Hold your pint glass tilted 45 degrees. Pour beer gently down the side until halfway full. Let foam subside before straightening the glass and pouring down the middle to fill. Top with 1-2 fingers of foam.

What is the proper amount of head on a beer?

The ideal amount of foam or head on a properly poured pint of beer is 1-2 finger widths. This helps release aroma and flavours as you drink while preserving carbonation and looks appealing. Too much or too little head can negatively impact the drinking experience.

By Tickety Brew

Ivor Ardghal : Brewer and Writer at Tickety Brew