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Pouring Beer: How to Pour a Beer

Joshua Weatherwax
Table of Contents
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If you don't know how to pour beer, you'll end up with a poor beer.

There are many ways to enjoy this wonderful, hoppy beverage. You can drink beer cold or warm, on a beach or in a bar. 

Still, there are a few steps to take whenever pouring beer to optimize the taste. We'll walk you through the best practices for pouring and why each step matters. Adhering to our guide will ensure you achieve the best flavor, mouthfeel, and overall appearance in your beer pour.

How to Pour a Beer: Perfect Beer Pour

Whether you're pouring from a normal tap, nitro tap, bottle, or can, the perfect beer pour consists of the same few steps.

  1. Use a clean glass. Any remnants of another drink or even dish soap will change how the beer tastes and develop foam. Don't waste a great beer on a subpar glass.
  2. Tilt the glass 45 degrees. This will allow the beer to slide down the edge of the glass and prevent too much foam, also called head, from forming.
  3. Pour beer into the center of the glass. You can avoid splashback or overpouring by pouring into the optimal area.
  4. Level the glass when half to two-thirds full and pour until full. This will achieve the proper amount of foam. The head should be one-half inch to 1 1/2 inches.

How to Pour the Perfect Pint of Guinness

There are unique steps to take when pouring a Guinness that sets it apart from other beers. Just make sure you know how many ounces in a pint.

  1. Use a Guinness glass. When pouring, use a glass designed specifically for Guinness. It is essential for the steps below.
  2. Tilt the glass 45 degrees. There are no exceptions to this rule as it is needed for proper foam creation.
  3. Slowly tilt the glass while pouring. Instead of waiting until half-full, slowly tilt the glass throughout the pour.
  4. End on the harp. End the pour three-quarters of the way up the glass, not when the glass is level. This optimizes the head for a Guinness.
  5. Let it rest. Wait to drink until the beer has settled and shows off the deep, black color that is synonymous with Guinness.

How to Pour Beer Without Foam

To minimize the amount of foam in a beer, pour beer into a glass angled at 45 degrees. Pour as closely as possible to the glass, and slowly level the glass once it's too full to continue to pour at that angle. The longer you pour a beer into a tilted glass, the less foam that will be present in the final product. You may still have to wait a moment after pouring for the small amount of foam that does appear to dissipate.

Foam is an integral part of a properly poured beer. If you truly don't enjoy the taste or feel of foam, try to aim for only half an inch. A beer with no foam at all often tastes flat and the presence of foam indicates proper carbonation. If you pour beer and it doesn't develop any foam at all, you might want to check the expiration date. You don't want to find out the hard way that beer goes bad.

How to Pour Beer from Tap: How to Pour Draft Beer

To pour draft beer, tilt the glass 45 degrees and place it as close to the tap as possible. Pull the handle and fill the glass halfway to two-thirds, then level the glass and fill to the top. This is the standard pour for beer and ensures you get the optimal amount of head in your beer.

Pouring draft beer is a bit different from pouring from a can or bottle. You need to keep track of the beer left in the keg when pouring from a tap. You don't want to end up with a glass full of beer dregs and foam. Make sure to understand how much beer is in a keg and how many pours you can get from different beer keg sizing before replacement. Draft beer inventory is important!

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How to Pour a Nitro Beer

Pour beer from the nitro tap into a glass at 45 degrees until the glass is two-thirds full. Wait until the foam fully resides and fill the now-level glass to the top. The added period of settling allows the excess foam to dissipate and ensures you get the most beer possible with the silkiest texture. Guinness claims that the perfect pour for nitro beer takes about 120 seconds, or two full minutes. Every type of drink has a different optimal pour, so it’s important to pay attention when you free pour.

Nitro beer is carbonated differently than a regular beer on tap and should be handled as such. In addition to carbon dioxide, nitrogen is added to change the consistency of beer. The use of nitrogen makes the beer smoother to drink, but also extends pour time as it adds foam more quickly.

How to Pour Beer from a Can

Tilt your glass to a 45-degree angle and align the can so it pours directly into the center of the glass. Once half full, tilt the glass to a level position and fill to the top. This pour should produce an ideal head that is around one-half inch. Pouring beer from a can should be treated no differently than pouring it from a tap. Treat even the cheapest can of beer like a high-end craft beer and get the best flavor out of it. As a bar owner, this can help you price beer higher since it will taste better.

You may have to allow the beer to settle for some time in the can prior to pouring. As with wine that develops bottle shock, beer can react poorly to the jostling of transportation. Nobody wants to pop open a can of beer and have it explode everywhere.

Beer Me!

No matter what beer you drink, you should always aim to achieve the best result possible. You don't have to be a cicerone certified beer server to pour a good beer.

If you pour beer properly, you'll maximize taste, look, and texture. An improperly poured beer can end up with too much foam, no foam, or an unenjoyable taste. Break out the steps listed above at your next gathering and show all of your friends the perfect pour. Their taste buds will thank you.

All alcoholic beverages have unique steps that should be followed when pouring. Doing it correctly will ensure you always get to enjoy them at their best. We can also show you the proper steps when pouring wine and the standard pours for a variety of liquors. You can become even more of a master bartender with just a few tips.

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