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The Anatomy of the Perfect Pint

pouring the perfect pint knowledge

In the 1980’s, the UK market began to centre on a few, lower ABV lager brands as ale and stout consumption declined. In the 1990’s we saw draught lager continue to rise and continental 5% lagers gaining ground. By the 2000’s draught lager growth began to slow as more world beer brands entered the UK market.

And then, the craft brewery revolution, an explosion in British, American and Continental small-scale breweries introduce UK consumers to a wealth of beer styles, reigniting interest in ale and stout. With a thirst for new and interesting styles, the beer market has continued to thrive. Statistics tell us that world and speciality beer volumes are growing in the UK On-Trade.

Consumer habits are changing. The market is moving towards premium products, and as a result, consumers are more considered about their purchases. This, however, is not something to worry about, alongside ensuring you have a range of beers to suit individual needs, serving a perfect pint every time will mean money in the till.

Keeping it clean

One of the critical elements of a perfect pint is regular line cleaning. Cleaning lines is relatively straightforward and typically takes around 2 hours a week. Ignoring line cleaning will negatively affect the taste of your beers. After line cleaning always check that the beer coming through tastes as it should.

There is a term often bandied around, beer-clean, referring to a perfect pint glass that is not just clean, but clean enough for beer. This relates to a glass being free of any residual detergent, soap or grease as these residues degrade the beer foam. Maintaining the foam contains the aromas of the beer.

The right glass for the right beer

We know that serving good quality beer in a branded beer glass is proven to enhance the consumer drinking experience. As soon as the beer hits the glass, visual receptors tune in, and anticipation is tweaked. Hidden nuances become more pronounced, colours shimmer and the enjoyment of the beer becomes merely a better, more complete experience. Customers insights show that they believe that drink served in branded glassware is a sign of a quality beer, with the shape of the glassware enhancing the beer.

Branded beer glassware isn’t just a way of presenting good quality beer in the best way. Scientific studies show that the shape of glassware will impact the beer bubbles, foam head development and retention of both. The foam created by pouring a beer acts as a net for many of the volatiles in a beer. Volatiles are compounds that evaporate from beer to create its aromas, carried by its bubbles, such as hop oils, all kinds of yeast fermentation by-products like alcohol, fusels and fruity esters, spices or other additions. A pint glass that promotes a healthy beer foam head may enhance the trapping of specific volatiles.

How to pour a pint of beer

A perfectly poured beer not only provides an excellent customer experience but also saves money on wasted beer. Before you start pouring a pint, make sure the pint glass is held at a 45-degree angle and not touching the faucet. Quickly open the tap and allow the glass to fill down the inside of the glass. Gradually tilt the glass back upright from the angle, so you finish pouring the beer directly into the centre of the pint glass. This allows the head to build. Ensure the faucet is always above the surface of the beer and not in the beer or foam.

Pouring a pint in 5 steps

  1. Hold the glass at 45 degrees
  2. Do not let the glass touch the faucet
  3. Gradually bring the glass upright as it fills
  4. Allow a foam head to form, moving the glass up and down may help
  5. Never dip the faucet into the beer

Finally, make sure it's retailing at the right price. Ensure that your pricing model for beer offers value on every rung of the ladder. Your entry point should reflect the local area, the type of outlet and your customers. Above this, you should offer a mid-range of beers at a slightly higher price that can be easily traded up to from your entry-level offer. Finally, add a top rung tier for your world, discovery or speciality beers where the quality of the product is the most important thing for the consumer. Avoid duplication of beer styles on each rung of the ladder to promote trading up.

So, to sum up, pouring a great beer starts with ensuring glassware and beer lines are clean. Customers are more willing to spend money on a good pint than ever, so getting the service right not only provides an excellent customer experience but makes you money. Save money on wasted beer by perfecting the art of the perfect pour, it's a simple five step process that ensures a foam head is formed. A good beer foam head ensures the beer retains its aromas and bubbles.

About the author

Luke Siddall

I'm Matthew Clark's resident content creator, looking after our social media, website and customer communications. I was a cocktail bartender for while before joining but I now spend most of my time on the other side of the bar.

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