How to Drink Better Beer, Part Two: Getting the Most Out of the Glass

This is part two of a six-part series (click here for part one, part two, part three, part four, part five & part six) on improving your beer drinking experience. While the series is written for Better Beer newcomers, it is advice that is beneficial to even the most seasoned beer drinkers out there. Cheers.

glass of beer

If you’re drinking at home, pouring your beer can be a delicate process. Too quickly and you’re left with more head than beer; pour too slowly or use the side of the glass too much and you’re left without any head at all. The perfect pint should, of course, have a nice, balanced combination of the two.What’s the best way to do that? Well, start by pouring the beer straight down the middle of the glass. Then, as the head forms to your liking, slow down the pour and shift to pour from the side.

People drinking wine will always leave room at the top of their glass and swirl and smell their wine before drinking, but this process isn’t unique to wine-drinking (or at least it shouldn’t be). You always want to leave a little open space at the top of your glass in order to smell the beer and swirl it in your glass (without spilling). Doing this will release the carbon dioxide carbonation — which brings with it the aromas of the hops, malt, and fermentation — out of the beer, through the foam of the head and to your senses. Like wine, gently inhale as you quaff your brew.

Next, be cognizant of your senses as you drink. I know this is easier said than done but if you do so, you’ll begin to notice exciting shifts in flavor and aroma balances as you drain your glass and the beer warms. Look for floral and spicy hop smells and tastes, sweet and roasted malt characters, fruity fermentation, bold, complex alcohol, and other intended (or not) surprises. Can you taste the beer on the front of your tongue or the back? Is the beer slick on the tongue or drying, and how does the taste change from sip to swallow?

There is no need to be obsessive about these observations (at least not when you’re starting out on your journey of beer appreciation) but just being aware of the subtle nuances and differences in all beers will quickly elevate your appreciation and heighten your new obsession.

Be sure and check back tomorrow for Part 3 of “How to Drink Better Beer”. Be sure and subscribe to the RSS feed so you don’t miss another moment of BAB!

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One comment

  1. Great points. I always try to take my time when trying a beer for the first time. By sipping, you will get a completely different taste than when you take a good sized swallow. It’s like having two different beers in the same glass. Also, letting the beer warm a bit is always good. Unless you enjoy watching your “mountains turn blue”. Ha! Good post!

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