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The glass:
Use the specially designed glass, specific to each beer, (see "the right glass") to maximize the experience in terms of taste, aroma and colour. Make sure the glass is clean (see Beer Glass Care) as residue can spoil the flavor of the beer and inhibit head creation.
Never chill your glassware, and decline if served a frosted glass. Why? As the beer hits the frosted glass condensation will occur and dilute your beer, while at the same time alter the serving temperature.
Temperature:
Beer temperature varies with personal taste and with the style of beer. The rule of the thumb is simple: the thicker and stronger the beer the closer the temperature should be to ambient temperature, ranging from 6º to 16ºC. So, generally speaking:
lagers and pilsner-type of beers – serve chilled from 6º - 8ºC
light-colored top-fermented beers – served chilled from 8º - 10ºC
amber-colored top fermentation beers – served at cellar temperature from 10º - 12ºC
complex Belgian ales – served at room temperature from 12º - 16ºC.
Also, chilling beer below 5ºC may be detrimental to the taste. There are exceptions however – Stella Artois and Hoegaarden Witbier recommend serving their beers at at 3ºC and Leffe Blond Abbey recommends 5ºC.
Although warm beer does not taste good it should not be served on the rocks, as it loses carbonation and taste immediately!
Pouring:
There are different ways to pour beer – depending who you ask. Guiness prefers a two-stage method that takes several minutes, and Leffe Blond Abbey suggest you pause after pouring half of the bottle, swirl the remaining beer to ensure have all the goodness and complete the pour.
This method is general purpose:
hold your glass at a 45° angle.
Pour the beer, targeting the middle of the slope of the glass. Don't be afraid to pour hard or add some air between the bottle and glass.
At the half-way point bring the glass at a 90° angle and continue to pour in the middle of the glass. This will induce the perfect foam head. And remember, having a head on a beer is a good thing. It releases the beer’s aromatics and adds to the overall presentation. You may also want to gradually add distance between the bottle and glass as you pour, to also inspire a good head. An ideal head should be about 3 cm (1" to 1-1/2") or simply two fingers thick.
Tip: The bitterness of the hops tends to be most concentrated in the foam of the head, so if you like a good hit of hops to jolt the tastebuds, give yourself a more generous head and sip the beer through it.
Savouring your beer:
Bring the glass to your lips and inhale gently to take in the aroma of the beer. This will awaken your tastebuds to the flavors that are to follow. Then sip, letting the beer flow over the tongue so you savour the full complexity of the flavor. Perfect!
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