The perfectly poured craft beer can often be a hard thing to find. Too much head, too little head, fizzy, flat, warm… there can be many pitfalls when pouring. So unwanted are these undesirable characteristics that beer brands even produce guides on how to achieve a perfectly poured beer.
Pouring a great beer takes time and patience, an element of skill, good glassware, and of course, an excellent craft or speciality beer! So, here are our top tips to pouring the perfect St. Stefanus.
Selecting the right glass
Firstly, it is important to select the correct glass to complement your beer. Many brands have their own bespoke glass that is specifically designed to showcase that particular beer’s best attributes and improve the drinking experience. The glass can enhance the aromas and flavours, while also protecting the froth and temperature of the beer.
The goblet shaped St. Stefanus glass is specially designed to be wide and open so that you can breathe in the aromas. The goblet also “helps the foam to form and to keep the aroma of the beer in the glass,” says Jef Versele, our St. Stefanus Master Brewer. The stem of the glass minimises the heat transfer from your hand to help keep the beer at the recommended serving temperature of 8°, thus ensuring your perfectly poured beer stays chilled.
Taking your time
The next step is to take your time. Any craft beer enthusiast will know that a well-poured beer is worth waiting for. The method in which a craft beer is poured should reflect the skill and craftsmanship that was put into its brewing. Some beers, like St. Stefanus must even be poured in steps, and left to settle in between pours.
As our Master Brewer notes, pouring St. Stefanus from a bottle must be done in two phases. In phase one, slowly tip the first two thirds of the bottle, holding the glass at 45° and gradually returning the glass to an upright position. At this point, the beer should have a beautifully crystal clear clarity. Jef advises that you taste the beer at this point and again after the second pour to note the distinct difference between the beer with and without the extra yeast.
In the second phase, one must leave the glass for a moment and swill the remaining beer in the bottle. This removes the thick and sticky yeast from the sides of the bottle, ready to be poured into the glass. This yeast turns the beer very cloudy, and enhances the smoothness of the beer.
Furthermore, to achieve the best quality taste when pouring St. Stefanus, it is important to pour from a height and let it drop into the glass. St. Stefanus is a high fermented beer with refermentation, which means it will have a high carbon dioxide concentration. Pouring from a height allows the carbon dioxide to escape from the beer, creating a smoother, more drinkable experience.
How much head?
Having covered the glass and technique, we now come to perhaps the most contentious question in pouring a craft beer: ‘how much head?’ This is hotly debated, and while beer connoisseurs swear by a good head, many beer drinkers believe that a large foamy head deprives them of a full beer.
Jef is adamant: “I always recommend to have a minimum of two fingers of foam”. Ensuring that you have a large head helps to create that smooth taste, and indicates that you have allowed the carbon dioxide to be released from the beer. To create this foamy head with bottled St. Stefanus, hold the glass at an angle while pouring.
Now that you know how to pour St. Stefanus from the bottle, find out more about pulling the perfect St. Stefanus on draught in our latest video.