How to Perfectly Serve Beer

If Beer is your favorite drink, like it is for me, you are certainly keen to know how to serve it like a real pro. Or you are working as a bartender or barkeeper in a pub and one of your key skills should be serving beer in a manner that at least pleases the visitors of the location. Way better would be getting the beer drinking aficionados passing by your beer tavern to recognize your talent and proficiency.

How to Serve Beer

Photo by Quentin Dr (Berlin, Germany)

In this blog post, we will have a look on the beer serving skills, hacks and tricks. Read on, if you are prepared to enter a new level. Let’s first turn our focus on serving beer in a private place:

For Individuals: The Best Way to Serve a Beer at home

When serving beer at home, you should closely adhere to the following points:

  1. Storage: Bottled beer should be stored in a dark, dry place
  2. Cool the beer: place the bottles of a lager beer in the fridge at least 3-4 hours before serving. You may cool a dark beer down to 16 degrees at home by putting it in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Best Serving Temperature: +/- 20°C for lagers and +/- 16°C for dark beer
  4. Only use clean glasses with cold water in which a good detergent is dissolved and rinse thoroughly with water. Glasses for gourmet beers should be dried before pouring the beer.
  5. Pour the beer all in one go when serving thirst-quenching beer. Tip the glass slightly to one side and then raise it gradually to an upright position. Let the froth flow over the sides and then skim off the surface bubbles of the froth with a clean knife. Rinse the outside of the glass.
  6. It is a slightly different process for gourmet beer: serve the beer slowly here, so as to create a rich foamy head. Leave some beer in the bottle so the glass can be topped up afterwards. For beers that are refermented in the bottle, leave the yeast deposit in the bottom of the bottle and present the bottle with the glass.

For Professionals: The Best Way to Serve a Beer in a Pub

Beer Serving Skills

Photo by Christal Yuen (Berlin, Germany)

As you may be already aware of, the most important thing when serving beer professionally is the right temperature. The right flavour nuances of the beer are lost when it is served too cold or too warm. Thus, place a lot of focus on the right temperature when serving.

Step 1: Preparations

Also true for your own home, in a beer tavern casks and bottles of beer should be stored in a dark, dry and clean place, at a temperature of +/- 15°C.

Cooling the beer is pretty much the same as already mentioned in the last section. Place the bottles of a lager beer in the fridge at least 3-4 hours before serving. You may cool a dark beer down to 16 degrees at home by putting it in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes. If you are already familiar with the customer frequency of the pub you are working in, then you should have also some experience in timing the cooling of enough bottles in the fridge for not running out of well cooled beer. If you are a new employee, ask the owner or your colleagues for help.

Barkeeping Techniques

Photo by Taylor Davidson

Then, check a proper functioning of the taping system. Especially, ensure an optimum flow pressure. There are loads of splendid beer engines and tapping systems out there. If you would like to know more, then you should check the corresponding guide on machineapression.beer.

The last but not least part of a perfect preparation is all about the beer glasses. Clean glasses with cold water in which a good detergent is dissolved and rinse thoroughly with water. A clean synthetic leather cloth (“chamois”) is used for drying glasses for gourmet beers.

Remember that a beer glass is meant only for beer. The beer will not develop a proper head if the glass is not properly washed or there are even tiny bits of fat residue in it. Depending on the type of the beer, it is usually served with a 2–3 cm head. The right head helps the drink stay fresh for a long time and to preserve its taste. The consistency of the head should be thick and it should consist of tiny bubbles. The main preconditions for achieving this are the correct temperature of the beer and a clean glass, but the pouring angle is also very important.

Step 2: Pouring the Beer

There are several differing techniques for pouring beer, depending on the way it is served. Do you tap the beer? Do you serve it from a bottle? Do you handle wheat beer? Let’s have a look at the specific characteristics.

Tapping Beer

  1. First, grab a tall, narrow glass for serving
  2. Make sure that the glass is clean (as described above)
  3. Place the glass under the tap at a 45-degree angle and open the tap
  4. When three quarters of the glass is full, turn it upright and pour a 2–3 cm head on the glass by pushing the tap backwards
  5. Serve the beer promptly before the head goes down
  6. Place a coaster under the glass when serving

Serving Beer from a Bottle

  1. Ensure that the beer temperature is between 6–9 °C
  2. Take a clean pilsner or footed glass
  3. …then follow the same steps as if serving tapped beer… (see above)

Serving a Wheat Beer

  1. Wheat beer should be served at a temperature of 5–8 °C
  2. Wheat beer bottles must be stored upright so that the yeast can settle on the bottom
  3. Hold the glass at a 45-degree angle when pouring
  4. Pour the beer slowly into the glass
  5. Leave ca 1–2 cm of beer and yeast in the bottom of the bottle
  6. Swirl the bottle lightly to mix the beer and the yeast, then pour a 2–3 cm head on the beer
  7. Place a coaster under the glass when serving

You find some more useful tips in the subsequent video guide:

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