I am, unapologetically, a beer geek AND on occasion, when the moonlight is just right, a beer snob. I adore it, its history, the process, the business, the craft, the sub culture, etc.
To me, one of the most beautiful things on this earth is a perfectly poured pint. I have spent hours studying the science and the art behind the perfect pour. I believe, in my warped Jekyll and Hyde-esque mind that you can tell a lot about someone by how they pour and treat their beer or in many cases how they treat YOUR beer.
Let’s talk sacrilege at the bar and restaurant.
You know that cute little thing servers do to “revive” the dead head on the beer? The one where they take those dirty black straws, stick it in the beer, give it a nice violent stir and voila!!! Head!!! Much to my chagrin, physical and verbal abuse is forbidden in the work world so I do my best to keep the beast from feeding when I see an amateur beer server pull this one. You as a guest though, DO NOT hesitate to send that beer back. That server just released some of the essential gasses and esters into the afterlife and you can’t get those back. I thinks it’s just gross…the idea that someone would stick a dirty straw straight into your nectar from heaven. I assume that those who would do this kill puppies for fun.
The next murder scene is the “pour and pour” move. You see this often with 1) an amateur bartender who lacks the patience to let that foam settle a bit while they take care of the other drinks on that ticket. 2) Even the most seasoned of bartenders who find themselves in the middle of a blood bath/ shit show. This wastes more beer than you think you’re saving, it flattens the beer, and it really is, for all intents and purposes, a sloppy short cut and we should never sacrifice quality for speed. Depending on the bartender and the situation, this can be forgivable. The lopping off one appendage is the minimum punishment though.
I pour beers two ways. At work in the corporate restaurant world, we take a clean glass, hold it a 45 degree angle, aim about half way down the glass, pour (without letting the spout dip into the beer in the glass) until the foam hits the lip of the glass, then tilt the glass into an upright position and fill to the brim. This should (depending on the efficiency of your draft system) give you a nice one inch head of foam. This is in no way “wrong” and when speed is the name of the game, this is the most efficient way to pour a beer. At home, I take my chosen bottle or can of beer, I pour it straight down to the bottom center of the glass and I let it foam to about ¾ of the way up. Despite popular belief, if quality and sex appeal are your thing, that first blitz of foam is ideal. Let it settle a bit, then pour a bit more straight into the center, again, letting it foam. Repeat this until your bottle or can is empty. You should have a nice “ice cream” head on the beer, strong and sturdy, not spilling over the side. There is some science behind this and in many cases highlights the quality of certain beers. Every now and then, when I have time at work and a guest who I know appreciates the intricacies of beer as I do, I’ll give them this little treat, the perfect pint, the sexiest pint they will ever see, until the next perfect pint.
I try my very best to live my life the way I pour a beer. Never rushing it, always taking time to appreciate the craft, the colors, and the smells. The best things in life take time and the perfect pint is no exception.
I know it’s silly and unreasonable to judge someone by how they pour beer or how they treat it. That’s the Jekyll in me, the reasonable man behind the self-righteous beast. This is what I do though, it’s what I’m passionate about. This subject always reminds me of a little conversation from the great baseball classic flick “Bull Durham”. Tim Robbins and Kevin Costners character are sitting there on the bus. Robbins, a cocky, ignorant, meathead…Costner, the wise Zen like Yoda master veteran. Costner, in what is one of my favorite lines EVER tells Robbins, “You don’t respect yourself, that’s your problem, BUT you don’t respect the game…and that’s my problem”