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The Correct Way to Pour a Bottled Beer

by Warrick Steabben on September 2, 2014

How to Pour a Beer

What could be easier than pouring out a bottle of beer? As it turns out, a lot of things. Pouring a bottled beer so that it comes out with a perfect head and doesn’t lose any carbonation takes a decent bit of technique and preparation. What are the dangers of pouring a beer badly? You’ll either end up with a headless beer that doesn’t yield that wonderful initial nose full, or even worse, a glass that’s half-full of foam and half-full of flat beer that is nearly impossible to drink without getting foam on your face. Here are a couple of bartenders’ tips to keep you from making a critical pouring mistake.

How to pour a beer
How to pour a beer

The Glass Matters

While the shape of your glass doesn’t particularly factor into how the pour will turn out, condition and cleanliness do. An old and poorly treated glass will probably be covered with tiny scratches and chips on the inside, which is a perfect environment for bubbles of carbonation to form. That’ll make the beer go flat faster and could create too much foam, as well. A glass that’s got dust in it will have the same problem—not to mention that it’ll have dust floating in it. On the other hand, if there’s a layer of oil dirtying the glass, it won’t be able to form much of a head at all. In order to avoid pouring into a dirty glass, quickly rinse it out with a little water before you pour the beer.

Temperature is also important. The colder any fizzy drink is, the less gas that it can actually keep dissolved. Cold drinks fizz—they lose their carbonation—faster than warmer ones. We often pour beers into chilled (but not too cold) glasses partially to take advantage of that fact, so it fizzes attractively while it pours.

How to Pour the Beer

The way that you pour the beer into the bottle is the biggest factor in how the head is going to turn out. In general, there are two ways of going about it. The first and most universal method is to tilt the glass by between 30 and 45 degrees while pouring so that the beer flows down the side. This keeps the beer from getting too agitated and foaming up excessively. In order to create a good head, bring the glass to an upright position as you pour; the steeper the pouring angle, the more foam is produced.

However, highly carbonated beers like hefeweizen—wheat beer—will still be overly foamy no matter how gingerly you pour them. The trick with hefeweizen is to place the clean glass upside-down on top of the bottle. Quickly invert this contraption and slowly lift the bottle up as it pours out so that the bottle’s lip remains just under the level of the beer.

There’s a lot that goes into pouring a beer correctly, so imagine how much there is to know about serving alcohol in general. Our RSA classes and other hospitality courses cover everything you need to learn about alcohol service. If you’re looking for professional training to take your beer pouring skills to the next level, why not enrol in a Melbourne bartending course? You don’t need to be a service professional either; you’ll learn skills you can use at your own parties or simply to impress your friends!