How to Properly Pour Beer

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Tradition holds that St. Patrick himself spearheaded converting the pagan Irish countryside to Christianity in the second half of the 5th century. Today, on the day that celebrates the revered saint (and the day which marks when he died, according to tradition), I’d like to convert you from improper beer pouring to perfection in a glass.

Why does it matter, you say? Isn’t beer a beer, no matter how it’s poured? Well, that may be the case if you’re drinking low-quality beer (I won’t name names), but when drinking a fine brew, it can mean a world of difference. When properly poured, the beer produces aromas and flavors that can only be present at the right conditions, and with the agitation of a proper pour.

In this short tutorial, I’ll teach you how to pour beer from a bottle/can/tap, as well as the special technique to employ when pouring a Guinness.

How to Properly Pour Beer from a Bottle/Can/Tap

The process for pouring beer into a pint glass is the same whether you’re doing it from a bottle, a can, or a tap. It’s also the same no matter the style of glass. Keep in mind that the process may vary slightly depending on the carbonation of the beer. India Pale Ales and Belgians will be a bit foamier than stouts or porters, so adjust accordingly to always get that perfect “head” (the foam on top).

1. Hold the Glass at 45 Degrees 

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Make sure you have a clean glass, and hold it at a 45-degree angle while pouring.

2. Pour Beer at Midpoint of the Glass

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Begin to pour your beer, and aim for about halfway down the glass. Don’t be shy; if you’re too slow, you’ll end up with no head, and none of those wonderful aromas that enhance the flavor.

3. Tilt Glass Upright as You Reach the Halfway Point

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When you tilt the glass upright, you’ll notice the head start to form.

4. Finish Pouring with 1/2-inch to 1 1/2-inch Head beer5

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The head had already mellowed a little by the time we took this picture, but you’ll notice it’s right at about half an inch. Anywhere from half an inch to an inch and a half of head is perfect.

5. Too Much

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If there’s too much head, you’ve poured too quickly, or not at your correct angle. If there’s no head atop the beer, you’ve poured too slowly or at too steep an angle without tilting it upright.

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