Step 7: Variety, The Spice of Life
Here is a list of variations in pouring for different types of beer.
ALE. Follow the general rules pretty closely, but pour a little longer along the side of the glass while tilting it. The goal should be a head that measures about a finger-width. Too much head means that you lose some of the ale's characteristic bitter or hoppy flavors.
STOUT. A stout deserves a thick head. If you go to a bar and order a Guinness on tap, you'll notice the bartender slowly fill your beer glass halfway and then let the beer settle a bit before finishing the pour. Imitate this method when pouring your own stouts. After you've very gradually poured half of the beer, pause to let the beer settle, and then continue with the rest.
Reverend Dan says:
Stout should be poured at 45 degrees down the glass until 2/3 of the way full then left to settle. Then fill up by pouring in the middle at a much slower rate (TAP: by pushing the Tap back a little).Then when just near the top put in a shamrock which you draw out with the pour. Move the glass not the bottle/can/tap.
PILSNER. Many suggest that you just pour straight down into a glass (without tilting) in order to achieve that healthy pilsner head, which characteristically extends over the lip of the glass.
HEFEWEIZEN. A hefeweizen's head can sneak up on you and cause quite a surprise. Its strong foaming potential means that you should pour extra gently along the side of the glass. Don't straighten the glass halfway through your pour. If any straightening is necessary for head, do it at the very end. As a general rule, include yeasty sediment at the bottom of the bottle (more on that below).
With hefeweizen or other beers where sediment should be mixed in, try slowly rotating the bottle end over end a couple of times before opening. This will distribute the sediment evenly and you won't need to swirl the bottle before pouring the last bit. It also means that with larger bottles you can pour two glasses with the sediment distributed evenly between them. Surprisingly, agitating the bottle gently in this way doesn't seem to cause the beer to froth as you might expect.
If you look at the bottom of some beers, you'll see yeasty sediment that has settled to the bottom of your bottle. In some cases, you should leave this sediment out of your glass, pouring gently so as not to agitate it.
Bottle-conditioned beers are famous for the sediment at the bottom. Some people don't mind drinking it, but many feel that this yeasty sediment should be kept out of the beer in order to allow more delicate flavors to come forth.
But for other beers (such as hefeweizen and unfiltered Belgian whites), this sedimentary component can hold some pretty important flavor for the beer. In these cases, you should actually adjust your pour to include as much sediment as possible. Pour almost all of the bottle's contents gently, leaving only a couple ounces in the bottle. Then swirl the contents of the bottle in a circular motion, tilting the bottle slightly, to loosen all of the sediment and blend it with the remaining frothy liquid. Then pour these flavorful last ounces into your glass and enjoy!
For the novice beer pourer, try wetting the glass first. Swirl some water around in the glass then pour it out. The water smooths the inside of the glass covering and filling any imperfections. It is these imperfections which create nucleation sites for the bubbles to form. You still need a little care when pouring, but can be much more cack handed with this method.