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Have you been pouring beer the wrong way this whole time?
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Methods of pouring beer vary with each option producing a different sized head. - photo by Austin Steele

I was always taught the standard pouring method: Tilt the glass at a 45-degree angle, softly pour for the first two-thirds, then finish the last one-third with a straight, vigorous pour.

This should assure a nice head on the beer and decent expression of carbon dioxide — a perfect pour. But, as most know, we don’t live in a perfect world.

“It's a fallacy to do it every time,” Stephen Upchurch, brewer at Pontoon Brewing Co. said. “I don’t think there can be a proper way to pour. That would require for every beer to be the same.”

Upchurch said he thinks people have a tendency to be overly technical on simple ideas.

“In all things beer, make it what you want,” Upchurch said. “Figure out what you enjoy and do it that way.”

While there’s no perfect way to pour beer, there’s definitely a wrong way.

Eric Johnson, brewmaster at Wild Heaven Beer, said the worst method involves ending up with zero head on the beer.

“With zero head, my first concern as a brewmaster is whether or not the beer was well made,” Johnson said. “The best made beers in the world have fluffy cloud-like foam. That’s the way the beer should look.”

For Johnson, he keeps in mind the environment when serving beer.

If indoors, the standard two-thirds side pour and one-third straight pour typically does the trick. This method releases the carbon dioxide and imparts better aromatics and overall flavor.

Drinking beer outdoors proves a different story.

When outside, Johnson said people should be drinking beer straight from a can, instead of a bottle or glass. His concerns lie mostly with sunlight than the correct pour of a beer.

“Light will ruin beer in 40 seconds,” Johnson said. “Pour a pint of IPA in a glass. Wait less than a minute and it will become completely skunked and terrible.”

Every time someone tilts a can to their lips and sets it down, he said the beer naturally becomes agitated and carbon dioxide expels. Bottom line — cans are fine, sunlight is bad.

Johnson also factors in temperature when defining the ideal brew.

He said most want a beer at around 45 degrees and anything below 40 numbs people’s taste buds.

“People will oftentimes make fun of Europeans for dispensing warm beer, but I would say they definitely have a much firmer grasp on the temperature it should be dispensed at,” Johnson said.

So there it is: Whether you enjoy a glass full of foam or a frigid beer, do what you love. Beer snobs may shed malty tears, but they’ll get over it. There’s no right way to pour beer after all.

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