Bottoms up! Serve one right this International Beer Day
Here's one for the next time you're hosting a guzzling session! A few suggestions on how best to serve a beer -
Beer tastes best when it’s served in appropriate glassware. I’ve already written about the kinds of glassware, so here’s what comes next!
Always ensure you use a clean glass. Now I don’t mean a glass that looks clean, but rather a glass that is “beer clean”. And yes, that term does exist.
The two ways to test a clean glass is to rinse in water, and then flip it upside down. If the water forms a solid sheet on the inside surface, that’s beer clean. The other test is the salt test, where you sprinkle salt on the inside of the glass. If it clings to the entire surface evenly, that’s a clean glass.
I don’t prefer this technique because I then have to wash my glass again! Washing dishes is a pain in the you know what. If you’re really dedicated, you could even order some special cleaning agents and have your own little glass cleaning setup at home.
Ultimately though, the best way to test beer clean glassware is to pour a beer and drink from it! A beer clean glass will have lacing cling to the glass with every sip.
Never ever serve a beer in a frosted glass! Carbonation bubbles will likely stick to the tiny frost crystals on the inside of the glass, and cause excessive foaming. That’s a waste of beer!
Plus, make note of the fact that today’s full-bodied and full-flavoured beers tend to taste a lot better when they aren’t served extremely cold.
Which leads me to my next point – temperature. While we all enjoy a chilled pint, lagers are best suited at a temperature of 4°C or below. If you truly want to enjoy the finer nuances of your favourite IPA, Stout, Porter, or pretty much every English or Belgian beer, they're all best drunk at about 8°C to 12°C. These higher temperatures release a lot more character in the beer that can get muted when it’s chilled.
Storage is another important aspect of beer that a lot of us tend to ignore. We've all had arguments will our fellow beer buddies about which bottled beer tastes better – the green, clear or brown ones! Without going too much into technical detail, allow me to put that never-ending argument to rest – it’s the brown ones!
Suffice to say that brown glass bottles block up to 98% of harmful wave lengths of light, and thus protect the beer inside from off-flavours. Regardless of colour, always store your bottles in a cool dark place, out of light.
Back and froth
Finally, the pour is another important aspect of beer serving. If you are like me, you probably like the usual “two fingers” of head on your beer. This is a good thing – the head formed from the carbonation releases a lot of the aromas in the beer. No head, no fun!
While the best way to pour your beer is to tilt the glass at a 45° angle, and pour the beer down the side until the glass is half full – not half empty if you’re a pessimist! Then straighten the glass back up and continue pouring into the centre. You’ll soon get the hang of pouring heads of varying thickness. If not, keep practicing! And appreciate the beer responsibly!
George Jacob is the Founder and Partner of the brewing consultancy, The Beer Chronicles.